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Back on Track

USA | Friday, 26 August 2011 | Views [402]

It had been over a week since the noise started in Shannon's car. Not really a grind, not exactly a clicking. It almost sounded like the creaking of old wooden floors as you walk over them. It manifested itself during slow cornering; something with the CV joint we figured. The larger problem was that we were halfway between Fairbanks and Anchorage. Almost nowhere to get work done. So we drove cautiously towards Anchorage, still stopping for many adventures along the way.

Within driving distance of Anchorage, Shannon was connected with a relative who had experience replacing axles, had a garage and had all the tools (hopefully, it is a VW after all). On top of that, he had a connection with a parts store and could get a discount. Great, we'll fix it ourselves and save some money so we can continue to play. Well it did not work out quiet as smooth as planned. The part didn't arrive for a few days, we did not have a 12-point torx driver, they shipped the wrong axle. All in all, three hours of car work took us three full days. 

After almost a week in one area, we were really itching to get back to the adventure (not that fixing a car axle is not an adventure in itself). We found it right away on a beautiful crisp morning in Anchorage. 

First we walked a stretch of the Cook Inlet, a bit south of Anchorage near Earthquake park. Earthquake park is not worth any of the hype, by the way. The path was paved and easy walking, a bit boring for our taste, but it offered great views of downtown Anchorage and the Alaska range, including Mt. Foraker and Denali. Any day the mountain is out is a good day in my book. I think I like the view from the south, further away from the mountains better. There were no visible mountains in-between us and Denali so it truly stood out solo in the sky. It looks massive from anywhere, but seems ginormous from Anchorage. 

After a few miles on the path, we were ready to move on. The next stop was trying to locate the house Shannon lived in as a kid. Shannon actually was born in Anchorage and lived here for two years until his family moved to upstate NY. Shannon had no recollection of the house, but talking with his parents he found the street and the house. What a neat little connection to your past. From the house, we continued on our way; time for a more hiking. We climbed Flattop mountain; the most popular day hike out of Anchorage. I could see why. The well maintained, but steep trail climbs almost 1,500ft and offers incredible views. Anchorage is completely visible with the Turnagain and Knik arms of the Cook Inlet beyond the city and way in the distance the Alaska range and Denali! Simply incredible if you are up there on a clear day.

From Flattop we continued on to the town of Gridwood near Alyeska ski resort. On the way we stopped at Beluga point and spotted a pod of Beluga whales! Alyeska resort looks like it could be a really fun winter stomping ground, especially if the average of 645" on the upper mountain comes in full. We drove up an old mining road heading out of Gridwood and found ourselves a place to camp. What a day. Two hikes, views of Anchorage and Denali, my first time seeing a Beluga whale, staring in awe at a ski resort in the fall and back to sleeping in the dirt. We were finally back on track.

Tags: alaska, hiking, mountains, ski resort, whales


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