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 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.


boardwalk section

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

Gull Rock Trail



April 1, 2014 at 5:35 am | Posted in alaska, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Interesting ribbon cloud over the end of Turnagain Arm, on the way to Homer earlier this month.

Turnagain Arm Pit

March 31, 2014 at 5:47 am | Posted in alaska | Leave a comment
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This place is about to awake from a long winter’s nap.  Have never been here but heard it’s pretty good.  The name is unfortunate [Turnagain Arm is the name of the body of water south of Anchorage].  These guys also have a Midtown Anchorage location that’s open year round.

Wheely dream

April 10, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Posted in alaska, Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I became concerned when I got close.  Something had gone wrong  at our cute little split level while I was away for a few months.  Maintenance was out the window.  The yard was littered with junk cars.  Windows were broken, doors displaced and hanging loosely, trash everywhere.  Water trickled from a hole in the wall.  Inside the place looked like it had been ransacked.  Unattended children and others were milling about.

I found a woman who seemed to be my stepmother.  She looked ashamed and began to explain.  I said, ‘Wait!  Hold that thought!  I just need to go up to my room for a few minutes.’  In my 11×11 room in the back corner of the upper floor I found my friend Bruce sitting on a little cot in the corner.  There was also a hastily and badly built large bed that filled up most of the rest of the room, with three sleeping positions in a row with light blue wool blankets with dirty white pillows.  Boarders from Russia, to judge from the style of the blankets and the few personal items.

‘Bruce, I have to have my room back immediately.  Isn’t there someplace else you and these guys can go?’

We walk downstairs to the basement.  Only it isn’t the same basement.  It is as big as a football field with a 24 foot high ceiling.  On the far end there are some big gates and it appears to be open to a light filled valley beyond.  There is nobody around but there is some earth moving equipment parked there, and some walls have been framed.  We walk to a spot on the far wall.  ‘The Russians could move down here,’ I suggest.  ‘They could each have a suite as big as a house, instead of sharing my small room.’  Bruce looked at me with a frown, as if to say that isn’t going to happen and I can’t tell you why.

Such a strange atmosphere.  It’s like the owners have become tenants.  The house is part of a huge project, but the profits are going to an absentee slumlord who is letting the property become a rundown health hazard!

Awake and thinking about it for awhile, I decided the whole dream was a metaphor of Alaska.


April 10, 2013 at 3:32 pm | Posted in alaska, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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sue's deck on easter

Short sleeve weather in Homer on Easter! Short lived, back in Anchorage there have been two more Winter storms since.


October 28, 2012 at 6:17 am | Posted in alaska, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Eye of the Beholder Dept.


October 24, 2012 at 8:44 am | Posted in alaska, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Got wood!


October 22, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Posted in alaska, anchorage, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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October 22, 2012 at 5:55 pm | Posted in alaska, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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Heading out of Whittier on a fishing charter.


June 2, 2012 at 7:03 pm | Posted in alaska, anchorage, photo du jour | Leave a comment
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beautiful america

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