But today, by god, we started the new year off right.
We hiked a portion of Lost Lake Trail, the trailhead of which is a ten-minute drive from our house. Neither of us was particularly motivated to get out of our jammies and into hiking clothes, but when you live so close to one of the prettiest hikes on the Kenai Peninsula, it’s difficult to come up with excuses, especially on a blue bird day like today, so we pushed ourselves out the front door and went for a walk.
And I’m grateful that we did, because it was positively stunning.
Lost Lake Trail is in the Chugach National Forest, and the hike begins at low elevation in a forest of hemlock and spruce trees.
The path soon splits into a summer and a winter trail:
The winter trail is, not surprisingly, only for winter use and is not maintained the rest of the year. According to my guidebook, it’s accessible not just to hikers but also to snowmobilers, but today we saw only hikers.
On Christmas Eve, we got lots of snow, but then Christmas Day brought hours of rain, so at lower elevations the trail was icy and tricky to traverse.
The remedy for this? Kahtoolas, which allow one to cross icy patches with impunity:
The temperature remained in the 20’s for the duration of the hike, but we quickly shed layers as the trail ascended, and with very steep stretches to warm us, hypothermia was never a concern.
As we climbed, the snow grew deeper and the trail less icy. Lost Lake is a popular hike, so the snow was well-packed and passable.
The views were spectacular:
The entire length of Lost Lake Trail traverses north 15 miles from the Seward trailhead to Primrose Landing Campground. Needless to say, we weren’t that ambitious, but we hiked five miles round-trip, our target being the Dale Clemens cabin.
When we reached the cabin, we were rewarded with more breathtaking views.
Seward is situated on the northern end of Resurrection Bay. At the opposite end of the bay sits several islands, and beyond those protective barriers is the vast Gulf of Alaska:
When seen from this vantage point, it’s obvious just how sheltered and isolated Seward really is (and why it’s all too easy to feel like curling up in the living room on one’s days off).
At the cabin we turned around and headed down the steep trail. After weeks of inactivity, we were beat up, our knees and quads screaming at us with utter indignation, but this walk reminded us that we have many things to be grateful for, including the opportunity to start another year anew, the excitement of the unknown, the freedom to pursue a dream, and the pleasure of basic sensations–cold air in the lungs, the crunch of snow underfoot, and the vision of mountains and water.
Happy new year to you all, and may you find many things to be excited about in 2017.