Last week was spent fulfilling a childhood dream of mine to visit and photograph Alaska. I finally decided this was the year I was going to do it, and right before Fall semester begins too. I took a nice 7.5 hour long flight to Anchorage, Alaska, booked a hostel downtown, and began an adventure I'll never forget.
At this time of year, the sun doesn't fully set until about 11:00 P.M; which left lots of time to explore. Anchorage is beautiful, and the area is commonly referred to as the "Anchorage bowl" by Alaskans. Basically the entire city is flanked by mountains on every side except from the west, which is the Pacific Ocean. Even some of the views from in town are spectacular.
I woke up at 6 AM, and quietly packed my gear as to not wake up my Hostel mates. One was a South Korean foreign exchange student leaving for a tour in Denali (huge Alaskan state park), and the other was a French backpacker whose been all over Canada and ended up in Anchorage.
I was a bit nervous, since my contact with the group I had decided to hike with had been solely online, and today I would finally meet them and hopefully trek my first Alaskan trail.
The hike was going to be in an area called "Hatcher's Pass", and it's about an hour drive out of Anchorage. We'd be car-pooling there together, a girl whose been in Alaska for years named Lauren offered to give us the ride.
My face was lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. Even at just the head of the trail I was already in awe of the mountains surrounding me, and being from Florida, this isn't a common sight. I had no idea what was ahead down the trail. Slightly raining, and temperature in the low 60's, the conditions weren't ideal but they were comfortable. The hike made you sweat, and the small amounts of rain cooled you off.
Our hiking group was four strong and consisted of: Tyler, a back-packing adventurer from Atlanta; Aimee, a born and raised native who's cross country skii'd across Alaskan winters more miles than she can count; and Lauren, who moved to Anchorage years ago, found work, and loves the place so she hasn't left since.
The trek was nothing short of pure beauty. We crossed the bitter cold river by jumping boulder to boulder, and hearing the water rushing underneath you was a thrill I couldn't compare to anything else. We had hit the half-way point of our final destination, and Upper Reed Lake was just one more peak away. It's supposedly a beautiful crystal blue water that lies at the base of that enormous mountain looming over in the distance, Lynx Peak.
And there it was, Upper Reed Lake. Aimee quickly ran down the trail and hopped onto that flat rock and just kind of stared at everything in awe. It was her first time seeing this sight, mine as well of course. I snapped this photo as fast as I could, I knew she might not have stayed there long, and to my surprise she stood for a long while just staring. After I knew I had the shot, I lowered my camera and just began to gaze as well. In my head the first thing I thought was "This is what I flew 7.5 hours for. This is everything."
We decided we'd relax at the lake a bit and eat lunch before descending back down. Greatest part was, as we were eating the skies began to clear. The grays turned into sunny blue skies and the descent looked so different than our initial hike up.
The sun gave the landscape a fresh new look, and as if it were even possible, the hike back was even more incredible than the hike up because of this.
Near the end of the hike, we stopped and sat in a grassy patch that over-looked the last descent down. The breeze, the air, the whole day was just perfect. I couldn't have asked for a more amazing experience, and I'm so glad I got to spend it with three incredible people.
- Fuji x100s