This is my fourth summer in Alaska. I’m not sure when they official count started, but we have all ready had more sunny days this “summer” than the last three combined. It’s all over the news. This is legit folks. Not only sun, but breaking records of HEAT. Like 75-80 degrees! Don’t even roll those eyes, that’s incredible. I think we’ve had 2 days of “rain” in the last 5 weeks. My skin’s consistency looks something like a strawberry fruit leather, usually shined with a fair amount of dirt. My hair chalky with dust. Smile marks etched in my face from the sheer JOY the summer weather has provided.
I also have a summer for the first time in almost a decade where life is actually balanced with work, meaning I can actually have a weekend off, enjoy an afternoon adventure and talk about something other than being stressed about work. It’s almost surreal. Like Santa, someone’s going to wake me up soon and tell me it’s a fake.
My list of mountains to conquer this summer is lengthening. I rounded up a group last weekend and knocked the first one off the list! Copper Mountain, pictured below. Elevation: 4,537 (but we start at 243, so don’t judge). About eight miles down Lake Clark from Port Alsworth. No trails.
We camped on Friday night, enjoying the scenery and midnight sun. The Copper Crew was Carlon, never to be lost whit his fluorescent orange hat, Spence, the man who ran an ultra-marathon for fun in Hati, Katie, the spunky girl from Colorado who asks good questions, Beau, the backcountry ranger who hikes mountains in his sleep and me, the adventure schemer and cookie provider. We’re looking for a reality show to pick us up.
Sleeping on rocks always provides a good nights rest before a hike, but waking up to this view of Lake Clark is always worth it. Morning people everywhere know the secret that life is more beautiful at this time of day.
After a hearty bowl of oatmeal, we packed camp up and headed up. The woods quickly gave way to the nasty, patience testing alders. It’s like trying that awful dream where you’re running in waist deep water and moving ….. so ….. slow…. ly never quite getting to your destination. They’re almost claustrophobic.
Beau and Spence scaled an occasional tree to see the best way out of the alders, but perseverance and moving up was really the only way to beat them.
I was breathless then, so I’ll be breathless now…
Finally we enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the knee and enjoyed the view!
Then we made it to the tippy top and time for a yoga pose!
Looking back at Port Alsworth, where you can see the two runways if you look closely.
This is looking up Lake Clark, down at Current Creek and at Lake Clark National Park.
Give me a C.O.P.E.R. Guess we needed one more person to spell it correctly. Oh well.
After a few shenanigans on the top and resting, we headed down the fun way. In the snow! We even got to slide on our bums down most of it and had races. Grand fun.
Then it was back into the alders, but we went a shorter, less insane way. It was a steep decent, but like Disney Land compared to what we hiked through on the way up. There were even snow cones on the way down.
I was a hot mess when we got back. I dropped my pack and bolted for the
tropical warm water glacier fresh water of Lake Clark. It was quite the gut punch of cold, making me stammer for words and air when I surfaced, but so worth it. I went back for seconds and thirds. Then we dried out in the sun as our chauffeur came to pick us up! A pretty fantastic day.
I feel like a kid who’s sticky happy from all the chocolate ice cream left around his face from stuffing it with deliciousness. That’s been summer so far. Sticky happy with sweat and dirt and loving it.