Day 31 of Lupe’s Summer of 2016 Dingo Vacation to the Canadian Rockies, Yukon & Alaska
Glenn Alps Trailhead on the SE edge of Anchorage was a busy place. (11:52 AM, 55°F) It was certainly the first trailhead Lupe had ever been to where SPHP could pay the $5.00 parking fee by credit card. Spiffy. So uptown and 21st century.
Up town wasn’t where Lupe wanted to be. She was looking forward to adventures up mountain in spectacular Chugach State Park! Lupe and SPHP left the parking lot heading for the Powerline Trail. Turned out there was a closer, lower parking lot. Learn something new every day.
Lupe had a beautiful sunny day for her adventures. Not so long ago, SPHP had almost despaired of ever seeing the sun in S Alaska. Twice Lupe had been on the verge of leaving the state. However, she wound up spending the last few days exploring and adventuring in brilliant sunshine out on the Kenai Peninsula. A high pressure system must have finally chased the gloom away from the Anchorage area, too.
The Powerline Trail turned out to be an old road. Lupe took it SE toward Powerline Pass. The trail was busy with people jogging and biking. Mountains were in view ahead. From almost the very start, Lupe could see The Wedge (4,660 ft.), her first peakbagging goal, in the distance. For Alaska, it looked like an easy, not too inspiring climb.
To be honest, both Lupe and SPHP found the Powerline Trail rather dull. Too sunny, too warm, too busy, too low down, and far from the mountains. A long, boring trudge on a dirt road. It’s easy to get spoiled in Alaska! Hopefully the experience would improve.
It did. Gradually, the mountain views seemed less distant. To get to the valley leading to the saddle between The Wedge and The Ramp, Lupe had to leave the Powerline Trail after a couple of miles. A smaller side trail led down to a footbridge across the South Fork of Campbell Creek. As soon as Lupe left the Powerline Trail behind, suddenly everything seemed better and more beautiful.
After crossing the South Fork of Campbell Creek, the side trail went NE up a moderately steep slope. The trail entered a forest of stunted conifers. A couple of women came down the trail toward Lupe. They had seen a moose and calf only a little farther up, right on the trail!
Lupe and SPHP proceeded slowly, cautiously. Lupe saw the mama moose, but only got a glimpse of the calf. The moose were no longer on the trail, having wandered off into the forest. Lupe and SPHP got by them at a good distance without incident. Lupe was very interested in those moose! She was a good Dingo, though, and never barked.
Once past the moose, Lupe kept climbing through the forest on the trail. By the time the trail left the forest, it had deteriorated considerably. Only a simple single track path remained. Ahead to the ESE, Lupe now had a clear view of the big saddle between The Wedge and The Ramp. The saddle was still a couple miles away.
The trail crossed some fairly level terrain heading toward the valley leading to the saddle. Lupe arrived at a tributary of the South Fork of Campbell Creek. The trail could be seen on the other side, but there was no bridge, or even any decent arrangement of stepping stones across the creek. No problem for Lupe, but SPHP would have liked to avoid getting wet feet.
In the end, even though the stream wasn’t all that big, SPHP found no way across in this area without simply fording it. Squish, squish. Puppy, ho! Onward! Lupe climbed up the embankment on the far side of the creek and kept going.
It would have been better if SPHP had gone farther upstream before crossing. The trail vanished. Lupe soon found herself in boggy terrain on the S side of another small tributary. Higher, drier ground was over on the N side, but it took a while to find a reasonably dry way to get there.
Once on the higher ground N of the boggy creek, Lupe quickly found a trail again. Lupe and SPHP followed it toward the big saddle. For quite a long way, Lupe could run down to the creek for a drink any time she wanted. She enjoyed availing herself of this opportunity at regular intervals.
As Lupe continued up the valley, the trail became intermittent. In fact, there seemed to be multiple trails, but none of them was a firmly established dominant route. All started and stopped in unpredictable fashion. It hardly mattered. Lupe could always see the big saddle up ahead, and kept going toward it.
Eventually, the stream reduced to a trickle, then disappeared. Lupe was getting close to the saddle between The Wedge & The Ramp. She could have chosen to climb either mountain first, but went for The Wedge (4,660 ft.). It wasn’t as high, and looked like the easiest climb.
Lupe got up on a big rounded ridge that swept down into the valley from the saddle. On the other side of the ridge, she could see a large snowbank. Except for tiny tundra plants, nearly all vegetation disappeared as Lupe made the final climb up the rounded ridge to the saddle.
Lupe followed the rounded ridgeline all the way up to the saddle. The saddle was a very broad, rounded area as well. Lupe turned SW to ascend The Wedge. Although The Wedge had looked like an easy climb from way back down on the Powerline Trail, it was steeper than expected. Lupe roamed the wide slope at will, as SPHP trudged slowly higher.
The climb was steep, but not the least bit scary. The slope was covered with small rocks and plants. For the most part, it was all fairly stable. Lupe didn’t come to any trail going up, but she didn’t need to. Staying far from the cliffs was easy. Lupe could take any route she desired up the huge, broad slope.
It seemed like a long climb, but the terrain finally started to level out. Lupe reached The Wedge’s summit ridge near the NE end. The true summit wasn’t far away at a rocky prominence. While SPHP took a look an initial look around at the tremendous views, Lupe relaxed.
My, how those views had improved since Lupe started out way back down on the Powerline Trail!
The views of the nearby peaks were impressive, but far toward the E & SE horizons, Lupe could see even higher mountains and big snowfields. The camera’s telephoto lens provided a better look at what was out there.
Naturally, Lupe went over to the true summit of The Wedge to claim her peakbagging success.
After half an hour spent on The Wedge, Lupe started her journey back down to the big saddle leading to The Ramp. She stayed farther to the E than where she’d come up, hoping to see Ship Lake, which hadn’t been visible from the summit of The Wedge. As she lost elevation, Ship Lake came into view.
Lupe continued on down toward the saddle leading to The Ramp (5,240 feet). The Ramp is nearly 600 feet higher than The Wedge, and looked considerably steeper from afar. The upper slopes were much more rugged, and the top of the mountain comes nearly to a point. Lupe couldn’t expect any nice big summit area to relax on at The Ramp!
SPHP started wondering if Lupe could even make it to the top of The Ramp? Meaning, of course, SPHP wondered if SPHP could make it to the top! The first part of the climb wouldn’t be bad, but the closer Lupe got to The Ramp, the more concerned SPHP became.
Meanwhile, Lupe was leaving Ship Lake and The Wedge farther and farther behind as she progressed across the saddle and started up The Ramp.
For quite a long way, climbing The Ramp wasn’t any harder or steeper than climbing The Wedge had been. However, the way up was slowly getting progressively steeper. Lupe had already regained all of the elevation she’d lost going down from The Wedge and more, when suddenly a woman was in view above. She was coming down toward Lupe.
Lupe and SPHP soon met up with her. She had made it to the summit of The Ramp. She advised staying near the closest ragged, rocky ridgeline to the E. She said there was a sort of intermittent trail along there. Near the very top, though, Lupe should swing around to complete her climb along the W ridge. Going back down, Lupe could either return to the saddle or go down the W ridge, slowly turning SW into the valley.
SPHP thanked her for the advice, and she was gone. She was the only person Lupe saw all day after the two women who had seen the moose early on. The woman did seem to know what she’d been talking about, and apparently she’d made it to the top. Per her advice, Lupe and SPHP angled over to the ragged ridgeline.
The woman was right. An intermittent trail went up the ragged ridge. Lupe had less loose rock to contend with. There were also some fearsome drops only a few feet away on the E side of the ridge. Lupe and SPHP kept climbing. Lupe was getting there! More and more of The Ramp was down below. Less and less remained above.
As the woman had advised, and the terrain virtually dictated, Lupe gained much of the last 60 feet of elevation by moving over to the W ridge and climbing up from that direction. Very close to the top, Lupe traversed a narrow 30 foot long level ledge toward the SE, then scrambled 10 feet almost straight up to a small grassy area.
The narrow ledge had way more exposure than Lupe and SPHP are used to, but SPHP had good hand and foot holds all the way. Lupe seemed unconcerned. She had no problem crossing the ledge. She scrambled up to the grassy area as easily as if she were only part Dingo, with a good dose of mountain goat in her.
At the little grassy area, Lupe was only 15 – 20 feet below the summit. After a brief pause, Lupe and SPHP finished the climb. The last 10 feet were very steep, but once again, there were good hand and foot holds. Lupe managed to get all the way up to sit a only a foot or two below the tops of the highest rocks at the summit of The Ramp.
SPHP wouldn’t let Lupe go up that last foot or two. Huge exposure was only a couple feet away to the N. This was it. Close enough for Dingo work! Lupe was claiming her peakbagging success! With one hand, SPHP clung to the rocks, while operating the camera with the other.
Of course, the views were amazing from The Wedge. In fact, they were dizzying. SPHP clung to the rocks, taking pictures. At SPHP’s bidding, Lupe got down off the summit. She retreated to a less precarious position close to the grassy area where she could rest comfortably, while still enjoying the stupendous view. SPHP soon joined her. Wow, what an incredible place!
After 15 minutes doing nothing other than enjoying the views together, Lupe and SPHP started down. Once safely past the 10 foot down climb and 30 foot ledge, SPHP felt more relaxed about the situation. A long pleasant evening trek down the mountain ensued. Lupe took the alternate route down along the W ridge, eventually dropping well below it on her way to the valley.
The route stayed steep and rocky for a long way. Slowly the slope decreased. Tundra vegetation started taking over, and the way became less rocky. For Lupe, this was the best part of the entire excursion. For a long time, she ran free over great distances to her heart’s content. The tundra glowed with color in the evening light. The air was fresh and cool. Lupe was in American Dingo paradise!
Of course, Lupe always remembered to come running back to SPHP at frequent intervals, even though it was a chore having to constantly regain all the elevation she’d just lost.
Lupe and SPHP saw no one in the broad valley. The return trip was a glorious, peaceful, happy time.
By staying farther N in the valley, Lupe was able to avoid most of the boggy terrain lower down. SPHP even found a way over the tributary of the South Fork of Campbell Creek without having to ford it again. By the time Lupe was getting close to the Powerline Trail again, the sun was disappearing behind the mountains far to the W beyond Cook Inlet.
As Lupe and SPHP finally drew near the turn off the Powerline Trail leading to the Glenn Alps Trailhead, some of the lights of Anchorage came into view. Mountains were silhouetted against an orange sky beyond the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet.
SPHP remembered there was a small hill near the upper Glenn Alps Trailhead parking lot where the G6 was. Why not spend a view extra minutes to climb it and get a sweeping view of the lights of the entire city of Anchorage? It sounded like a great idea!
Lupe never got to. Someone else had the same idea, and had already claimed both the hill and the view as their own. (10:33 PM)Note: The Glenn Alps Trailhead is on the SE edge of Anchorage. To get there, take O’Malley Road off Seward Highway going E toward the mountains. Turn R on Hillside Drive, L on Upper Huffman Road, and follow the signs to Toilsome Road. The upper trailhead parking lot is at the end of Toilsome Road.
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