Thursday, October 1, 2015

Girdwood and Iditarod Trail

On the last night of our vacation we splurged and stayed at the Alyeska luxury resort in the town of Girdwood.   We enjoyed every place we stayed on our journey.  Each one was different from a B&B in someone's home to waterfront cabins and a hillside lodge in Denali.   This night we were going to relax in the saltwater hot tub and enjoy a different kind of accommodations.

The town of Girdwood was originally founded as a supply camp for gold miners with claims along the creeks feeding Turnagain Arm.   It was originally called “Glacier City” for the seven massive glaciers that rim the surrounding mountains.

Seven Glaciers Restaurant
The town had to be moved 2.5 miles after the  1964 Good Friday earthquake, when the land under the original townsite sank into Turnagain Arm, putting much of the town under water.

Today Girdwood is a ski resort and the Hotel Alyeska is at it's center.   Looking out our room window we cold see the tram taking people up to the mountain top to hike, ride mountain bikes down, or eat at the Seven Glaciers Restaurant at the top.

The resort was well landscaped and there were numerous flowers all around the outside of the hotel.  I had a little time and took these two.   The ski lift chairs had water filled blue plastic barrels in the seats to test the mechanisms before winter and the ski season.   The yellow flower was in the sun and the building wall behind it was in deep shade.   Really makes the flower stand out against the black background.

There are several hiking trails and we took the Winner Creek trail.

Winner Creek Trail
While not on hotel property, I think this trail benefits from being very close.   For the first half mile or so the trail was wide, flat and had many boardwalks to protect sensitive plants.   The further from the hotel we went, the less it looked like something from Disneyworld.

At about 2 miles we reached  Winner Creek where this very substantial, yet broken, bridge crossed the creek.  We found that the bridge is there for snowcat drivers to cross in the winter and is not the trail crossing.   That's me in the red jacket taking the photo below.

Snowcat Bridge
Winner Creek from Snow Cat Bridge

Rock in the Creek
I find picking out small parts of a scene can result in some interesting photos.   In this case, I picked out this rock with moss and a couple leaves on it.  The water was streaming around but not over the rock.

The trail joins or is part of the Iditarod National Historic Trail, which commemorates a 2,300-mile system of winter trails that first connected ancient Alaska Native villages.  The Iditarod trail opened up Alaska for the last great American gold rush, and now plays a vital role for travel and recreation in modern day Alaska.

Over 1,500 miles of the historic winter trail system are open today for public use across state and federal lands.  The trail is best known today for its annual Iditarod Sled Dog Race. Race participants and their teams of dogs spend up to 15 days mushing 1,000 miles from Anchorage to Nome.
Iditarod National Historic Trail

At about 3 miles we reached the Winner Creek Hand Tram.  Described as a "very Alaskan way to cross a creek", the tram is basically a metal cage suspended by steel cables across the creek.   One or two people can pull themselves across high above the creek.   We went across and back.  Pulling is harder than it looks.

Winner Creek Hand Tram
 We crossed high above the creek.  Lower down were the remains of earlier trams.
Check out our shadow

This was an easy enjoyable hike and I recommend it.  Most anyone can make it to the hand tram.   The trail continues on to the Crow Creek Mine Road.   We visited the Crow Creek mine later in the day.  More about that in the next post.

No comments:

Post a Comment