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Hatcher Pass here I come!

Who put a federal holiday in the middle of the week? What is that all about? Since I didn’t want to take any time off, and the holiday didn’t payout a 3-day weekend, I decided that I would dress casual this whole week at work! So there!  I also needed a quick get-away. Where do Anchoragites go when they want a quick get-away? Hatcher Pass near Palmer.

The drive to Palmer was nice on account that every car in the state was in Seward for the Mount Marathon festivities. The sky looked a little ominous, but the possibility of no rain still existed. We took N. Palmer-Fishhook Road out to the park and enjoyed the massive amounts of water coming down the Little Susitna River. I have never seen the river as high as it was! The nice pullout to visit the river offered an opportunity to enjoy the sound of water and feel the spray hit us. Kim tried to negotiate the large boulders with sandals. It was interesting to watch.

Kim sitting barefoot on a large rock while the Little Susitna River rages past

Kim enjoying the Little Susitna River near the entrance to Hatcher Pass, Alaska.

The mountains all the way to the top were bright green and covered in small flowers. We enjoyed the drive all the way to Independence Mine. I have stopped here many times and had no interest in visiting the historic area this trip. We did drive through the parking lot, which was packed with people who had the same idea we did. We sat on the side of the road and scoped out the cliffs with binoculars, looking for old mine shaft remnants. We headed towards the GATE. Those of you familiar with this area know what I am talking about. The gate the state locks 9 months of the year that provides access to the summit and Hatcher Pass road down to Willow. The gate was unlocked!

The snow fall was large this last winter making access to this part of Hatcher Pass even more limited this year. In addition, I wasn’t sure how far we were going to be able to hike in the area before we hit snow. So we did what any adventuresome girls would do, we just went to check it out!

A map of April Bowl near Summit Lake and Hatcher Pass

Our hike above April Bowl near Summit Lake and Hatcher Pass, Alaska.

We parked at the lot just East of Summit Lake and climbed about 1000 feet to roughly the 4500 foot peak that rose above April Bowl. This very small valley has a cirque/tarn lake and several small ponds and the views from the bluff viewpoint are outstanding, including the Willow Creek Drainage, the Susitna Valley, and the western arc of the Alaska Range.

A beautiful tarn lake surrounded by mountainsides and a turbulent sky

One of the 5 or 6 cirque/tarn lakes we hiked passed on the way to the top of April Bowl.

The wind was raging in some places requiring gloves and hats, but the view was drop dead gorgeous. We sat up there for the better part of an hour in a small wind shelter someone created out of rocks to give us a break and enjoy the breath taking scenery. I took tons of photos. Not a single soul ventured up that high on a busy 4th of July. We had the mountain all to ourselves. Granted, we did pass someone going down when we were climbing up, but it was ours for an hour.

Kim sits in a rock shelter on the bluff taking pictures of the Matsu Valley - April Bowl, Alaska

Kim sits in a rock shelter on the bluff taking pictures of the Matsu Valley – April Bowl, Alaska

I chose to slide down the snow patch we crossed on my butt. I felt like a kid in a slide at the park! We followed up with a great dinner at Turkey Red in Palmer. Back to work tomorrow.

Educational piece (Wikipedia):

A cirque (from a French word for “arena”), corrie (from Scottish Gaelic coire meaning a pot or cauldron) or cwm (Welsh for “valley”) is an amphitheatre-like valley head, formed at the head of a valley glacier by erosion. The concave amphitheatre shape is open on the downhill side corresponding to the flatter area of the stage, while the cupped seating section is generally steep cliff-like slopes down which ice and glaciated debris combine and converge from the three or more higher sides. The floor of the cirque ends up bowl shaped as it is the complex convergence zone of combining ice flows from multiple directions and their accompanying rock burdens, hence experiences somewhat greater erosion forces, and is most often scooped out somewhat below the level of the cirque’s low-side outlet (stage) and its down slope (backstage) valley. If the cirque is subject to seasonal melting, the floor of the cirque most often forms a tarn (small lake) behind the moraine and glacial till damming the outlet.

Image of a how a cirque/tarn lake is created. (Image: Wikipedia)

Image of a how a cirque/tarn lake is created. (Image: Wikipedia)

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About Maya

My name is Maya, and I wander.

Comments

  1. Loved it!!

  2. Cool! Nice photos. Amazing hike, I'm sure.

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