Thursday, June 16, 2016

There Was A Reason I Stopped Climbing Flattop

I stopped climbing Flattop years and years ago.  Trudging up a steep gravelly slippy slidey trail with lots and lots of people got old.

But something got into me today and I decided I wanted to go up the Flattop trail.  J said she wanted to come along, despite the fact that she hates climbing up and she broke her wrist a couple years ago negotiating the sidewalk in Santa Monica.

But with our State Park parking sticker in the window, we drove up to the Glen Alps parking lot and started up.  It wasn't quite as bad as I remembered at first.

The steps from the parking lot are gone and a new winding trail starts things.  But it goes up pretty quickly.  We first climbed Flattop when we arrived to Alaska not quite 40 years ago.  Our bodies are a lot slower than they were.

J was telling me to just go on ahead, so I pulled out my camera and started taking pictures of butterflies and flowers while she moseyed along.  I'm not sure what kind of butterfly that is.  I couldn't find it in my Insects of South-central Alaska book, nor looking fairly quickly online.  But I did find this tribute to Kenelm Philip - apparently the premier collector and student of Alaskan butterflies.

Wild geraniums.

At this point it looked like the trail was leveling off for a while and it had this fancy post and chain fence.   But it was a short-lived break.

When we first got to the 'steps' we thought, wow, they've improved this a lot since our last visit.  But these railroad ties were at various angles, and the dirt packed against them had been washed out in may places, so these were tricky walking.   

I'd say except for one woman, we were probably the oldest folks on the trail that we saw.  Most were half our age or less.  And it was warm to hot still at 9 and 10 pm when we were out.  

We did run into a six year old who was not happy at all.  The man I assumed was her dad said she'd been fine to the top, but coming down she had begun to cry.  My grandpa mode is just below the surface, so I talked to her about the trail, the chocolate bar I'd left in the car, but would have given her if I hadn't, and how our kids had spent a number of years ready to turn back on our hikes, then one day, said, "We'll wait for you at the top."  I didn't get a smile, but she did stop crying and maybe her dad got a little more sympathy for her limits as a hiker.  

Somewhere along these steps J decided it was getting too treacherous for her and decided to sit on the side and wait for me.  

I went on a little further.  Below is a picture of the people climbing the ridge toward the top.

I got to the second 'saddle' and started up the last part.  We'd been going up almost an hour already and I was thinking when our son would run up and back in 30 minutes.  

I was also thinking about my heel which after several years of issues hadn't bothered me at all in several months.  (I should probably write an update on that saga.)  And  mostly I thought about J sitting on the side of the trail.  

I looked back with my telephoto lens to see if she was still in view.  

No, those two guys were probably on the 'steps' but she was well below them and that ridge.  So I turned around and found her quickly enough.  We got down, as usual, much faster than we got up. 

It was a big energy booster though.  It felt good to be out and about.    The last couple of years with us flying down to visit my mom every month made it too easy to not get out into the hills above and around Anchorage.  But I'm going to get my money's worth from our parking stickers this year.  

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