Thursday, June 22, 2006

Alaska

We got in this morning about 5:00 am - we took the red-eye from Anchorage last night. We had a wonderful trip - the weather was mostly cloudy, with heavy rain a couple of times, light misty rain at others, and even a few sunbreaks. In other words, a lot like home!

We spent Friday exploring Anchorage, Saturday racing and then on Sunday, after going for a five mile trail run in the middle of Anchorage, moved to Girdwood to a wonderful bed and breakfast for the rest of our stay. The Alyeaska resort is located in Girdwood and is a destination ski and hiking area. We rode a huge tram to the top of the mountain on Sunday for a look around. It was snowing up top, but beautiful.
Monday we hiked up to Crow Creek Pass - about 6 miles, 2000 foot climb. On the way back we took a different route that involved crossing a lot of snow fields and scree (talus slope rubble). At one point when we stopped my leg muscles were actually quivering. We didn't run on Monday because we were considering it a rest day - and a recovery day for Eric - but I'm not sure it really counted as a rest day after that hike! After the hike (and a nap) we drove to Seward, just to check out the area. We saw a moose and calf right beside the highway on that trip. Plus, though we didn't see them, I guess you can often see beluga whales from the highway. How cool is that?




Tuesday, I ran seven miles along a bicycle/pedestrian path that paralleled the Alyeaska Highway, then turned and paralleled the Seward Highway. It is way better than it sounds - Alaska has these paths everywhere - they wind through Anchorage, and along the highways and through every little town we visited. The one I ran on went through a marshy area that attracted tons of birds. It also went through a stand of dead spruce - the land there dropped eight feet during the 1964 earthquake - allowing saltwater to flow inland. It killed the trees and preserved them at the same time. After our runs we left for Whittier. Whittier is a former military base that is only accessible by boat, or through a three mile tunnel. The tunnel is one lane and is shared by cars and trains. It runs on a schedule with all cars flowing into Whittier on the half hour, and leaving Whittier on the hour. The train gets a slot somewhere in there too. The population is 200, and they all live in one highrise. There are only a handful of houses on the edge of town. We went there to catch a glacier tour. We got to see 26 glaciers, three of them up close. In fact, we were able to see them calving (dropping chunks). It was well worth the time and very interesting.

Wednesday, Eric and I decided to check out a trail we had heard of that had a hand-tram over a creek. We chose to run it as a big loop - we were kind of vague on the distance, but had seen a sign for it on our way up to Crow Creek. We ended up running a nine mile loop - and it was a good four to five miles of running up hill before we even got to the trailhead. My legs were already sore from the hike on Monday, followed by the longer run on Tuesday, but I held in there. We ran for about 2:15. This hike was through the northern-most rainforest in the US. I came away from that run thinking that maybe I should take up trail running - that was one of the best runs I've ever experienced. Eric and I didn't have the camera, so we didn't get pictures of the two of us. However, Eric and Riley went back later so Riley could see it and got pictures. They did an out-and-back and hiked it rather than running it. After all that we checked out and went back to Anchorage. We pretty much wandered around town and killed time till about 8:00 when we finally went to the airport. Our flight out wasn't till 1:00 am, so we killed time reading.

A couple of interesting things about Alaska - once we got outside the city, only the main roads were paved, the rest were compacted dirt. Very nice for running. The other thing about Anchorage is that there are all these wild areas right in town. The trail we ran on Monday had one fork closed - because there was a fresh moose kill there that was attracting bears - right inside the city! The "midnight sun" was something too - it was bright daylight till about 11:00 pm, then would sort of fade, but it never seemed to get really dark like it does here.

We had a wonderful trip - I enjoyed every minute of it (except that middle of the night flight home). Our host at the bed and breakfast made the comment that they had had all kinds of people stay with them for all kinds of reasons, but they had never had anybody come to "run Alaska". Personally, I can't think of a better way to see the country than to run it!

15 comments:

olga said...

Wonderful pictures! And somebody shaved the head:)

angie's pink fuzzy said...

gorgeous pictures! your son's hair is beautiful :)

sounds awesome!

matt said...

you make me want to visit there right now :)

Donald said...

Wow, that sounds awesome. What a great trip. I think I could do without the snow, though.

TryAthlete said...

I've never been to Alaska but now I feel like I have.

Thomas said...

A highly impressive trip, and I can see you didn't exaggerate when you said you went there to run Alaska. Those photos are great, and it looks like you had one hell of a time up there.

Liv said...

Soooo beautiful... ooh, I'm envious :) I think one day the Midnight Sun marathon is going to show up as a "to do" on my sidebar...

Anne said...

What gorgeous pictures! It sounds like the trip was everything you could hope for (except maybe a few less days of 'liquid sunshine') It really made me homesick reading all about your adventures, running and otherwise.

D said...

Beautiful photos. I agree with you...no better way to see a place than to run it!!

Robb said...

I would love to visit Alaska. Your photos tell of a wonderful trip. Beautiful! Welcome back.

robtherunner said...

Yes, I am jealous of your trip. I am sure you felt guilty the whole time knowing that I was at home studying.

Sarah Elaine said...

That sounds just fabulous! Great pics, too.

Dawn - Pink Chick said...

I think going somewhere just to run is a fabulous idea. Great pictures.

susie said...

Those pictures are glorious. I have some friends who just left today for Alaska. Oh, and welcome home! Rest up now:)

E-Speed said...

sounds like an amazing trip! Great pictures!