Gull Rock Trail kicks off the hiking season

April 26, 2014 at 8:24 am | Posted in alaska | Leave a comment
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It’s a good idea to pick an easy hike for the first one — something fairly leisurely without too much elevation gain.  I was struggling a bit at the end of this one, a 10 mile RT.  If I keep this up, by August I can be scaling 2,000 ft peaks with relative ease — it just doesn’t seem like it right now.

I only made the popular Gull Rock trek one other time, in 1996.  That time I had three boys with me, ages 11, 11 and 7 [my two and one of their friends].  This time it was just me.  I found a picture from that day, and took a photo at the same place this time.  [These kids are now 29, 29 and 25!]

Gull Rock 1996 and 2014

The little town of Hope, AK is still kind of a gem — relatively pristine, undeveloped but enough there to remind you of a rollicking past dating back 120 years.  The Seaview Cafe was built in 1896 and is a former General Store and Grocery.

Seaview Cafe, Hope, AK

Hope Social Hall corner log detail

And about a block away, a couple of cabins from the same era [one in better condition].

Cabin, Hope, AK

Cabin ruins, Hope, AK

It was a great time to be there, for a few reasons: 1. We had a relatively warm and dry Spring, which means the trail is less muddy than typical for this time of year; 2. The views are better before there are leaves on the trees; and 3. It was eerily quiet in Hope and on the trail because it’s still a month before tourist season.

Beginning at the new trailhead

Quite a few changes since 1996 — the campground is much larger and nicer, and the trailhead has been separated from the campground, with its own parking area connected by a new segment of trail.  Starting off, the groundcover vegetation is out and it’s looking more like June than April.

Devil’s Club.

Blue jay pair

A pair of blue jays.  There were many of them all along the trail.

dead large spruce

Saw many spruce stumps and some whole and partial non-living examples that were amazingly huge compared to the ones around today.  I guess logging took them out in round one, and any that remained were killed by bark beetles?

Interesting cut

On parts of the trail there are many stacked, sectioned downed trees.  The trail maintenance is very good.  Somebody had already been through there and removed all but one of the trees blocking the trail.  The artistic split/tear of this log caught my eye.

pushki

Pushki left over from last year.  This year’s crop wasn’t quite out of the ground yet.

wind sculpted

Wind sculpted branches of a spruce that sprouted from a shoreline rock bluff.

gull rock trail vegetation

Turnagain Arm view

Hope is reached via a 16-mile spur off the Seward Highway.  From Hope and the Gull Rock Trail one looks back across Turnagain Arm and the main part of the road.  Can make out glimpses of the towns of Indian, Rainbow, Girdwood, etc. and see the cars and trucks on the highway.  But they’re really small, and mostly too far away to be audible, and [it was described this way in a book] they look comical, like ants crawling along at the base of an anthill.

Turnagain Arm from Gull Rock Trail

Shady part of trail

The trail is great because it passes through so many different types of terrain and vegetation — from dense sections that are dark and foreboding even at noon, to grassy fields, windswept sandy portions, rugged rocky outcroppings, across steep faces.  There’s a rock flume crossing, and two or three places where the trail dips into [and back out of] small creek valleys.

mossy

boardwalk section

Will have to not let 18 years pass before going back!

Gull Rock Trail

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