The Last Frontier has always been at the top of my ever-growing list of dream destinations. In the summer of 2008, on a family vacation I made it to Alaska, we explored the Seward area, venturing up and down Resurrection Bay for an entire week. After this trip, the desire to go explore the rivers, mountains, glaciers and rain forest that Alaska has to offer grew!
In 2014, after an interesting series of events, my dad relocated to Anchorage, Alaska, giving me a permanent connection to Alaska. It wasn’t until the fall of 2015 that I finally made it back. My friend Hannah and I booked this well in advance and come September, with a sense of adventure we were off to Alaska. In the short Labor Day weekend trip, our goal was to kayak, explore glaciers, hike new trails and eat pizza at Moose’s Tooth.
On our first day, we hiked to the appropriately named summit of Flattop Mountain, after one failed attempt; this was my dad’s first time making it to the top. From the top, there are expansive views of Bear Valley and the city of Anchorage. On most days, Denali (America’s highest mountain peak) can easily be seen. Unfortunately, we were never able to see Denali throughout the duration of our trip.
Next on our list was to hike on a glacier, we piled into my dad and Julie’s rig and headed north to Matanuska Glacier. Matanuska is highly rated by the Anchorage locals due to the free for all, explore at your own risk nature. While expert guides are typically needed for access on to glaciers, they are not needed on Matanuska. After a quick hike through the glacier run off, we strapped on our Yaktrax on and stepped onto the glacier. After an a few hours exploring we were on our way, with a new experience under our belt.
As an avid skier and snowboarder, hitting the slopes in Alaska has always been a dream. Even thought there was no snow on the ground, Alyeska Resort was the next destination on the list, located in Girdwood, AK, it is a short drive from Anchorage down the Turnagain Arm. Starting off down the Winner Creek Trail we were shortly immersed in the rainforest, following the path the river had carved. After a few miles we reached the Winner Creek Hand Tram, which is an aerial tram suspended over the gorge.
With a late flight on Labor Day, our last stop was kayaking on Eklutna Lake. Eklutna Lake is a lake that is fed by glaciers to the north, the lake is also used as drinking water for the city of Anchorage. Slowly paddling around the lake, surround by the mountains was definately one of the highlights of the trip!
Within 12 hours of returning the kayaks we were back in Orange Country driving to work. Hopefully next trip to visit my dad and Julie will be a lot longer!