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Hike to Eagle & Symphony Lakes

Fall Colors Along the River (Symphony Lake) Why This Hike: This hike through the South Fork Valley offers stunning views of Eagle and Symphony Lakes, tarns and valleys surrounded by rugged, glaciated mountains. During September and early October (until the first snowfall) you will have the added bonus of vibrant fall colors. This trail is considered easy and can usually be hiked well into winter depending on snow conditions.  Directions to the trailhead: Take the Eagle River Loop/Hiland Road exit off the Glenn Highway just past the weigh station. Turn right at the traffic light onto Hiland and continue about eight miles up the road. Take a right onto South Creek and follow it to West River Drive and take another right. The parking lot is on your left.   South Fork Valley Trailhead:  Google Driving Directions  (Eagle Lake & boulder field in the foreground)  The Nitty-Gritty: The trail to Eagle and Symphony Lakes starts from the South Fork parking lot.  It has become  extremely popu

Alaskan Hiking Groups

Get out and enjoy Alaska's long summer days with a hike. To find a hiking buddy, here's a list of Alaska hiking groups compiled from various Facebook posts, meetup groups and websites. The groups range from easy family-friendly to more challenging for experienced hikers. Some welcome anyone; others are women only and are geared for various ability levels. I included website and/or Facebook links if available. If you know of others, just send me a message and I will include. FOR EVERYONE, VARIOUS ABILITIES Anchorage Trail Walkers   -   https://www.meetup.com/Anchorage-Trail-Walkers/ Website says: "We get out 2-3 times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays during the day, usually at 10am." Kenai Peninsula Outdoor club on Meetup  (Very active - open to all Alaska Outdoors   http://alaska-outdoors.org/?page_id=222 As per website, hosts 2 hikes on Monday and Thursday year around. FOR WOMEN, VARIOUS ABILITY LEVELS Alaskan Wild Women Hiking & Backpacking Grou

Did You Know (DYK) - Llamas Have Fighting Teeth?

Because llamas are herbivores, which means they eat exclusively plant materials such as grass, hay, shrubs - their teeth are mainly designed for crushing, grinding, and juicing their food. They do not feed on meat and other tough materials like nuts or shells.  Llamas use their teeth the same way goats, cows, camels and sheep do. They cut grass from the ground using their sharp-edged incisors and dental pad, tear them, and push them towards the cheek teeth or the grinding teeth to further be chewed. Llamas are not true ruminants but are “pseudo ruminants” even though they have a similar digestive system as that of ruminants. Like ruminants, llamas are often spotted chewing because they regurgitate their food and chew it repeatedly before digesting. Llamas and alpacas are camelids, and camelids do not have front teeth in their upper jaws. This is why when you take a closer look at a chewing llama, you will notice that only its lower jaw has visible teeth. In place of the upper front tee

Hike the Root Glacier - Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

Why I Like This Hike: Non-technical glacier hike suitable for most skill levels with great views of Mt. Blackburn, Regal Mountain, and Donaho Peak. This trail is generally rated easy / intermediate due to its grade and creek crossings. You can safely hike the glacier on your own with micro-spikes (or take the glacier tour and they will provide crampons.) This is an incredible glacier hike and well worth it if you (and your vehicle) can survive the drive from Chitna, Google Maps Driving Directions -  Kennecott-McCarthy Directions to McCarthy Road & Kennecott Note: This trail departs from Kennecott Mill Town and you must access Kennecott from McCarthy by either walking the road between McCarthy and Kennecott (an extra 4.5 miles), taking the commercial shuttle, or riding a bike.  If you plan to take the shuttle (recommended) be sure to check the schedule as it operates seasonally.  According to the NPS website:  There are 3 shuttle companies providing services between the pedestria

FAQ - Do Llamas Attract Bears?

Bear Busters! "Do llamas attract bears?" This is a frequently asked question (FAQ), especially during the summer months. Bears have been known to attack llamas but our experience has been that llamas don't attract bears anymore than other pets or pack stock. In fact the llama's "alarm call" may act as a good deterrent for bears. Llamas are instinctively alert and aware of their surroundings, and usually draw attention to an intruder by making a startling "alarm call" when it senses danger. A llama is usually aware of a bear long before we can see or hear it and will let off their "alarm call" when the unwanted intruder is around. Click on the YouTube link to hear our Raul llama making an alarm call -  Llama Alarm Call   However, I would not recommend leaving llamas tied out unattended while camping. In that situation llamas would not be able to defend themselves from predators such as bears or even an aggressive dog. Even in

Rabbit Lake via Upper Canyon Rd.

Why I Like This Hike: This is a quintessential Alaskan hike, family friendly and suitable for most skill levels. It's about 4.4 miles to Rabbit Lake, a large beautiful alpine lake some 3,000 feet above sea level in the shadow of 5,000-foot Suicide peaks. Once at the lake, the hiker has a number of options including hiking, camping and climbing nearby peaks. This trek is a short drive from Anchorage and can be hiked in all seasons depending on weather. Google Driving Directions:   Rabbit Lake Trailhead This hike is extremely popular during the summer so be advised that parking can be very limited at the Upper Canyon Road trailhead.   Overview: There are two main routes to  Rabbit Lake , the easier is from Upper Canyon Road off DeArmoun. The longer and steeper route starts from the McHugh Creek trailhead. You can hike to Rabbit Lake in a day (out and back) from either trailhead or as a one-way "through" hike. This post will describe the day hike from the Upper Canyon Road t

Twin Peaks Trail to Eklutna Overlook

The Hike: Twin Peaks Trail to the Eklutna Overlook  Why I like this Hike:  This well maintained trail offers spectacular views of Eklutna Lake and surrounding mountains with the potential for dall sheep viewing. It's family friendly and suitable for various skill levels depending on what hiking option you choose. Located in Chugach State Park about an hour's drive north of Anchorage, the trailhead is easily accessible with good parking. (Parking fee required.) How to Get There: Google Maps - click  Eklutna Lake Overview: Length: Twin Peaks Trail is 2.6 miles one-way, with first bench located about halfway up. Overlook of Eklutna Lake is about another .75-mile, and Pepper Peak at least one additional mile. Elevation: Twin Peaks Trail gains about 1,800 feet in elevation to the second bench. Pepper Peak is 5,450 feet elevation. The Nitty Gritty: From the day-use parking lot, cross a small footbridge, bear left onto the Twin Peaks trail and start climbing. You’ll begin getting gre

Llama Beans - What are they good for?

What are llama beans? "Llama beans" or “Alpaca Beans” are the droppings / poop / manure produced by these animals. These droppings do look like brown beans so that's where the name comes from. Alpaca or Llama Beans can be used to enhance your soil and produce superior flowers and gardens and are considered to be environmentally friendly. What are llama beans good for?  As per  Home Guides  by Gemma Craig-  How to Use Llama Manure Llama beans or llama manure "is used as a potassium, nitrogen and phosphorous-rich organic fertilizer in gardens and flowerbeds. Unlike fertilizer sprays and sticks, llama manure is earthy-friendly, and reduces your carbon footprint by recycling a part of nature; it has the added benefit of being odor-free. You can either gather llama manure yourself from your own llamas, or order it from a llama farm, then use it as-is to improve your soil and provide plants with much-needed nutrients. Shovel llama manure into a bucket, then moisten the man

Peaks in Chugach State Park

Here's a list of peaks in Chugach State Park * "This list shows all major summits of Chugach State Park, a massive recreational resource that borders the Anchorage, Alaska metro area on the east. This park is the primary mountain playground for residents of Alaska's largest city..."   (*From Peakbagger.com) How many will you climb in this summer? Click here for - Peaks in Chugach State Park Click here for - Map of Peaks in Chugach State Park Some hikes here for the non-peakbaggers - Alaska Hikes

Awesome Arctic Valley (Spring Conditioning Hikes)

(Photo: View of Eagle River Southfork Valley from above the Saddle.) The climb to either Mt. Gordon Lyon (elevation 4,134 feet) or Rendezvous Peak (4,101 feet) are shorter less demanding climbs with a breathtaking 360 view of Anchorage, Eagle River, and the South Fork Valley. Starting north: Denali and the Alaska Range (on a clear day) Knik Arm, Highland Mountain, the town of Eagle River (and the river), its surrounding peaks (Magnificent, Baldy, Black Tail Rocks, Harp, Vista & Roundtop), the south fork of Eagle River with Eagle and Symphony Lakes in the distance, Rendezvous Peak, Ship Creek and Indian Valley, Anchorage, Turnagain Arm, and Cook Inlet. You will also get a good view of the Site Summit where Nike Missiles were held years ago. (As a side note, take care not to trespass on the military instillation which borders the trail near the trail head. There may be fines if you are caught.) Why I like this hike:  Good for all skill levels, trail is easy to follow with va

Raul Gets a Haircut

In Alaska we only do a partial shearing of our llamas in the spring. This is because it takes about two years for the wool to completely grow back and llamas need a good coat of wool in the Alaskan winter. First we clean the llamas by using a Circuiteer blower (below) and brushing. Otherwise, the dust in the llamas' wool will dull the shears.  Notice in the YouTube video, how Phil is using a downward motion with the shears. He is also taking care to keep the shears parallel to the llama's body. Otherwise the shears could injure the llama if they were to shear too close and clip the skin.  We have used Stewart Shearmaster shears for many years which have worked well for us. 

Hike to Heritage Falls, Icicle Creek and Beyond

  View of Eagle River Above the Perch Overview:  The Historic Iditarod (aka Crow Pass) Trail which spans the Girdwood Valley to Eagle River is considered one of the  best trails to hike in the Chugach mountain range because it offers such diversity including glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife. It’s not only a quintessential hiking/backpacking route but an historic portion of the Iditarod Trail that led from Seward to mines in the Interior. It was (reportedly) rebuilt in the 1970s with girl scout labor.  This section of the Historic Iditarod Trail starts from the Eagle River Nature Center (ERNC) and makes for a versatile spring, early summer hike or overnight.  Driving directions to the ERNC :  ERNC Driving Directions Why I Like This Hike: It's a lovely all-season hike (or overnight) suitable for most skill levels. You can make this trek as easy or challenging as you want. If you want a shorter less demanding hike, just make your end point Echo Bend (mile 3), the Perch (mile 4.0), He

Baldy and Blacktail Rocks

Walking the ridgeline from Baldy to Blacktail Rocks Why I Like This Hike: This 3,218-foot mountain overs easy access from Eagle River with outstanding views. Overview:  Mt. Baldy is a popular day hike overlooking Eagle River that provides outstanding panoramic views of Eagle River Valley and across the Knik Arm. "Baldy" is appropriately named as the top is a round, bare mountaintop. Although very popular during summer months, it can be hiked other times of the year including winter, depending on snow conditions. It's also the starting point for other peaks, such as Blacktail Rocks, Roundtop, and Vista peaks. The trailhead is at the top of Skyline Drive in Eagle River. Google Driving Directions:    Mt. Baldy Trailhead The Nitty-Gritty:  The trail starts from a parking lot at the top of Skyline Drive. A radio antenna is located just a few hundred feet or so from the start of the trail. From the parking lot continue uphill to the trailhead. From here, follow a wide, well-