Anchorage: City by the Mountains
After a month of nearly constant travel all the way up the Alaska Highway, we got a little burnt out. So when we made it to Anchorage, the biggest city in Alaska (and the biggest city this far north for thousands of miles), we decided to take it easy.
But of course we’re always down to explore. So after arriving at our campground (a place called Eagle river campground in Chugach State Park), we went straight to our next hike: a place called Rendezvous Peak Trail.
The road to the trail went up past the regional military base, up past where the trees ended and to a old ski area. It was very gravelly and bumpy, and on such a hot day made for a unpleasant drive. The area on top was very nice. It’s in the state park so you pay a small fee ($5 for parking).
The hike started out well, as we slowly wound around bushes and up the valley. At the end of the valley it opened up to reveal great views of the Chugach Mountains and the small town of Eagle River. Unfortunately the smoke from the Swan Lake fire had settled over the area, causing for low visibility. Still, it was pretty cool.
The trail climbs straight up to Rendezvous Peak after that: a super steep climb that had us huffing and puffing in the smoky air. We made it to the summit, then headed down the grassy slopes to our car.
The next day was the Pride festival in Delaney Park.
We had a great time! Lots of music, dancing and love everywhere! This was my first Pride event, and it felt so amazing to be at a place where I could be myself, and express my pride freely.
Over the next two weeks we visited some cool places around town such as Lynn Ary Park, which was one of the only places we found to access the Knik Arm in Anchorage.
After a couple days out at Eagle River, we drove a couple miles to Centennial Park, where we would stay for a while. The campground was thickly wooded and backed up to a forest: full of wildlife, as we would find out.
On our first day there, i woke up to a loud airhorn in the morning. Annoyed, I got up look outside and what do I see? Two black bears, right out our front yard! They looked on the small side, probably only a couple of years old. They were being scared out the park by the security guards, that explains the airhorns. We saw several more bears during our stay at Centennial, including one that snuck up on me and my sister while we were sitting outside. Scared us out of our seats!
After a few days there, we moved (due to water and sewer needs) to a place called Ship Creek RV Park, located right near the creek it’s named after and smack in downtown Anchorage. Full hookups, useful for showers. The campground itself isn’t much, but we walked a little ways down the road to the Anchorage Market: an outdoor market with lots of artists, food trucks and the like.
Ship Creek itself was cool too. There was a boardwalk that looped around the main area and gave us opportunities to see salmon swimming upstream. The fishing was good there too, apparently, because there were a ton of anglers crowded together on the river looking for a salmon to bite(it’s apparently know as combat fishing). Not really my style, but they seemed to be having loads of fun.
Next we visited the Alaska Air Museum: a cool museum detailing the history of Alaskan aviation, located right of Lake Hood, the largest seaplane base in the world. It had many old, vintage planes, a extensive exhibit on the battles of the Aleutian Islands fought in World War II(which i found very interesting because i had never heard about that), and a mini-movie about stunt flying whose soundtrack varied from AC/DC to Rick Ross. We then watched the floatplanes take off on the lake from the top of the old control tower. It was pretty neat.
On one of our last days in Anchorage, we drove south from the city along Turnagain Arm towards a town called Girdwood. We went to the Girdwood Forest Fair, a woodland festival full of unique Alaskan art and live music.
On our way back we stopped at a pulloff called Beluga Point. Lots of big rocks to climb on and a great veiw of the Arm. We couldn’t spot a beluga this time, however we heard they live here all summer.
After returning to the city we decided to head south towards the Kenai Peninsula before the smoke thickened. Our first stop? Girdwood, the little town we just went to for the festival. Only this time, we were going to take full advantage of the many hiking opportunities in the area!
Our hiking adventures in Girdwood will be covered in the next blog. Stay tuned!