Friday, September 25, 2015

We Didn't Run Up Mount Marathon

In the town of Seward Alaska there is a mountain.   It used to be called Lowell Mountain but has been renamed to Mount Marathon because every year eight-hundred people participate in a 3-mile, round-trip foot race that takes them up 3,022 feet from the town to the top of the mountain and back down.  The ascent is covered in less than a mile!

Think about that for a minute.   A strenuous hike like what we did to the Harding Icefield gains about 1,000 in a mile.   This is over three times as steep.   If you want an idea of what the race is like head on over to this photo gallery.   These people are crazy.

This crazy race started as a barroom bet. Some locals bet the mountain couldn’t be tackled in one hour. On July 4th in 1915, a small group of local men attempted to win the bet. The race winner lost the bet when he crossed the finish line in 62 minutes.  The current race record is 43 minutes and 22 seconds.

This is an extreme sport.  We started to walk up the race route and realized we didn't want to do that.   We found the Jeep Trail a few blocks down.

Devil's Club--also known as  "Alaskan Ginseng"

You start out on the Jeep Trail, which is a steep rocky path that rescue vehicles use when people get into trouble on the mountain.   After a short heart pounding climb up that trail we reached this picturesque little waterfall.  The plant with the red berries is called Devil's Club.  Looks like it could be a favorite food for bears.

The trail left the Jeep Trail and wandered up the mountain.  At one point it ran parallel to this little creek.   I really likes the very green moss covered rocks.   It was a bright sunny day, making this shot difficult.

Seward and Resurrection Bay
Be sure to click the photo above for a wide view.

We reached a point in the trail where we could see over the brush and caught sight of Resurrection Bay.   Cruise ships come into the bay to get to the port of Seward.

We never did reach the summit.  We got to a point where the trail "appeared" to go up a steep gravel field.  I say it appeared only because we couldn't see where else it could go.  There were no markers or any way to tell if we were heading in the right direction.   It wasn't easy going up that hill, and even harder coming back down.   After a while we decided we had seen enough and headed back down to the town.

While the Jeep Trail route up the mountain is tamer than the way the runners go, it was not an easy hike.  There are very steep places where you have to scramble up and down on all fours.   But the views are worth it!

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