IDITAROD WITHOUT MUSHING – HOW TO CROSS A GORGE WITHOUT GETTING WET! ALASKA, PART THREE

IMG_7158

Day two of our Kenai Peninsula hiking adventure was so packed with activities that once again I will multi-post. First up: taking the Iditarod Trail to Winner Creek Gorge with a somewhat intimidating add-on.

Iditarod Trail – The original trail was used years ago for all winter travel by dogsled so that fur, gold, mail and groceries could be delivered from Anchorage to Fairbanks.  Today the official dogsled race traverses almost 1000 miles from Nome to Anchorage.  There are actually two routes – alternated by year to make sure that some smaller villages are not adversely impacted by the heavy influx of dog sleds – here are the two routes – you can see that the odd year southern route actually goes through the now ghost town of Iditarod:

route_northern1 route_southern

Our version of the trail was to take us about 3 miles with a total 400 ft elevation gain by way of the Winner Creek Trail which conveniently began right behind our hotel.

winnercreekmap

The first part of the trail was through the hushed beauty of the northernmost rain forest in Northern America – thick with moss coated spruce trees and lush vegetation – even blueberries that were just becoming ripe. A few of our more adventuresome gourmands tried some – not bad!  The trail was simply stunning:

IMG_7152

IMG_7155

IMG_7166

Seems so peaceful, right?  However, once we got to the Gorge itself – we were faced with a rather strange means of getting across:  THE HAND TRAM. Honestly, I had done my usual research before the trip so had some idea of what to expect – yet seeing this contraption in front of me still sent my heart racing:

IMG_7161

IMG_7160

The cage itself barely fits two people and as its name suggests – gets across the gorge by mean of pulling on the rope that is strung through it.  Okay let’s do this!

IMG_7354

Below us was Winner Creek Gorge—a churning cauldron of glacial meltwater. We just had to stop the tram in the middle and take video of this powerful sight, courtesy of Lenore:

With a little help from our fellow travelers we landed safely on the other side – and there to meet us was Winner Creek Falls, a 10 ft. cascading beauty that rushed into the creek.

There were so many perfect photo ops on this side of the trail with the water in multitudes of blues ranging from deep sapphire to teal,  it was hard to keep hiking  – here are just a few:

IMG_7169

IMG_7179

IMG_7177

IMG_7175

IMG_7170

IMG_7182

gorgewater

photo courtesy of Lenore

Despite our entreaties to ride the hand tram again and again, John and J had us muster on – besides there were other travelers waiting to use it (sigh).

But our day wasn’t over yet – having worked up quite a hunger through our exertions, we needed to refuel – and to get to the restaurant we needed to once again soar into the sky this time via a normal sized tramway from the hotel to the top of Mt Alyeska, 2300 feet above the valley floor:

Once again the views getting to our destination were spectacular:

IMG_7188

tramwayviewside mt

tramway view mts

tramviewtram

IMG_7340

At the top we ordered up our light lunches and while waiting, admired the view.  As is my wont, as my friends back at home will agree – I am constantly drawn to cloud formations and the sky over Mt. Alyeska obliged with some of my favorites:

Here are some lenticular clouds (thanks for the heads up, John Lorec) which are stationary lens-shaped clouds that form at high altitudes, normally aligned at right-angles to the wind direction:

IMG_7194

I think this one qualifies as a lenticular formation – either way it is aesthetically pleasing:

IMG_7192

The landscape below us was breathtaking:

IMG_7195

Fortified, we headed off to our next destination, which was so awesome that it will get its own posting, but here’s a peek:

IMG_7292

#

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s