Yesterday it rained all day so I took it easy and Jennie went to Walmart in Wasilla.
Today didn’t go according to plan but in a good way.
The road through Hatcher Pass, just north of Palmer, is the second highest in Alaska although it is still not very high at about 3600 feet. It is a loop road going between Palmer and Wasilla that is supposed to have great scenery. There is also a restored mine in a state park at the top that run tours. We were going to drive up to the mine, look around a bit and get the 1pm tour.
First stop was a small parkette and rapids that explained some of the local geology.
Heading up the pass road. Still lots of low clouds.
I knew there were some hikes in the area, most of which were too long for us. Heading up the pass at around 11 we decided to just do the beginning of a hike and then go to the mine. Well we started the hike at about 11:30 and got back to the car at 5.
The Reed Lake Trail trailhead is at the end of a 4 mile dirt road off of the Hatcher Pass Road. Low cars need not apply. This had to be one of the most potholed roads I have ever been on. You just could not avoid them so it was about 10 mph driving in. Even with the CRV’s high clearance I was worried about some of the rocks on the road and in the “parking lot”.
These people were going for a serious hike and I assume camping.
The trail itself is a 9 mile out and back to two glacial lakes. The first two miles were pretty easy and follow the valley floor between the mountains.
Today was supposed to be sunny but there were low clouds all day where we were. I don’t think we missed much because at times we could see the top of the mountains.
After you get down to the valley floor the first 2 miles of the trail are essentially flat out to an abandoned gold mine. Since this is all we originally intended to do and there were lots of wildflowers we took our time while Jennie examined all the flora.
The mine was at the end of the valley. You can see one of the buildings over Jennie’s head.
We first had to cross a pond on these conveniently placed stones.
We could see the trail started up the hill and said “We’ll just got up a bit to find a nice view for lunch”
It was a nice view.
But then we said “The view is probably better up higher. Let’s go to that tree”,
then that rock in the upper left, below,
then that ridge, etc. You get the idea.
It looked like Palmer was having a nice day under that patch of blue off in the distance. We couldn’t complain as this was great hiking weather.
We just kept going up.
Then it got like this. Boulder hopping but we kept going.
You can tell by the lighter coloured rocks, marked with mud, where the “trail” went. Each of those rocks is about the size of Jennie.
In the video below I am standing near those people on the ridge left of Jennie. I zoom in on a spot and say that we are not going to go there but that is actually where we ended up.
Now we faced this:
By now we were getting up in the clouds and a bit of drizzle so it was muddy and the rocks were slippery. We were probably still about a mile from the lake. Afterward I read that after this jumble of boulders the rest was easier but we decided that this was a good place to turn around.
Looking back to where the car is. I drew an little red arrow to point at it. About 3 miles and 600 or 700 feet down.
Back on the valley floor looking up, we got to that deep V notch just to the right of center.
This panorama video was shot from the top of the ridge above the mine shack.
This is one of the tougher hikes we have done and we were definitely beat when we got back but we felt good about doing it and the views were great.
We will try for the mine tour tomorrow.