With a little bit of luck on my side, I would arrive back into the Anchorage area in the early afternoon, leaving me plenty of time to get in a hike. After a bit of research, I found what looked to be an interesting hike in the mountains above Palmer, a small town about half an hour away from Anchorage itself.
The ice melts from my windshield and I get started on the long road from Denali. I should get to the Mount Baldy trailhead in about six hours.
The trail begins literally at the end of the paved road, just past where the houses end and the wilderness begins. I had read that it is best to stick to the left as the trail forks in two directions. Off I go….
An older gent with a beautiful Malamute lets me know of bear sightings in the area recently (big surprise) as I pass him on by. The brush is thick as I walk along for the first 1/2 mile or so, then opens up as I come to the edge of the mountain, overlooking the town far below, and the sea beyond.
I look up though and see greater peaks above. I need to find the trail that leads up there, as I think the route I’m currently on is not the hike I intended. I re-trace my steps backward and discover that the trail splits again in two directions only few hundred feet from where I started. Now I am hiking towards the summit of Mount Baldy, in an almost straight vertical line.
After another mile, things really start to open up. Expansive meadows in the tundra, with endless views in all directions. It’s hard to believe that civilization is only a couple of miles away. I see some of the most epic landscapes here. It is pretty amazing that I’ve traveled over two thousand miles on this trip, only to find some of the most beautiful scenery was less than an hour from where I originally landed. A metaphor about enjoying what is in our own backyard strikes me with resounding clarity.
Reaching the summit I rest next to a large rock cairn and take it all in. I see that the trail descends rather sharply as it loops around the mountain and back down to the parking lot.
I’m ready to call it an early night, feeling immensely satisfied with this final hike.