Have you ever heard that saying "step off the sidewalk and find yourself suddenly in another world"? I found another world today - completely unexpectedly.
||I had it my head to go for a long walk today in Anchorage. I haven't been keeping up on my walking at home for the past month or so, and what with getting on the ferry soon I knew we wouldn't be walking much then. I left my Airbnb and walked a few blocks to breakfast and then, at my host's suggestion, headed towards Earthquake park. The walk was nice - I skirted past the Lake Hood Seaplane Base and watch a few planes take off and land.
And then through some lovely little neighborhoods. I am struck at how much Anchorage feels like the Pacific North West! It's warmer than I had anticipated - low 60's. It's been mostly cloudy, but I've missed the actual rain.
But by the time I got to the Earthquake Park sign, I was more than ready to get off the concrete.
I quickly saw a little social trail taking off into the forest, and thought that would make a lovely change of pace. I could cut across the park to get to the coast trail on the north edge. Not 3 feet from the sidewalk -- I saw these charming little white blooms and snapped a picture.
And then I just couldn’t believe the trail! Rain forest, ferns, moss, and a black-black-black loamy saturated soil that I have never had the pleasure of walking on before.
The trail quickly started going up and down over these very dramatic ridges (according to the sign, which I couldn't pause to read at the time, but of which I took a picture -- 'horsts' and ' grabens') 3, 5, sometimes 8 feet high. I became quite concerned that I would end up on my hands and knees at some point. The sides were very steep and the ground very wet. I picked up a stick to help, and more than a few times had to put away my phone AND camera in order to hang onto trees. Oh, and the mosquitoes! I seriously could hardly even pause to take a picture before they were swarming. It was so bizarre -- because they’re silent, and huge. I could not hear them and at first I wondered what are these little fairy things hovering around me. Yikes. (a day later, I'm not finding any bites, really. So either I don't react to them like I do in Colorado, or they were so slow as to not get a bite in??) I had to keep moving - pausing to get a photo and I was mobbed!
But the black ponds made by the rifts in the earthquake landscape were just too captivating to resist. I jokingly thought of the Blair Witch tale, you know -- walking aimlessly through a forest. I chuckled at the thought that one could get so utterly lost after 15 minutes within the wilderness in a city park.
I did come across some wildlife droppings. You know those chocolates jokingly called 'moose droppings'? Well, is that literally what they look like?? Because what I saw look just
like that. How a moose could maneuver in this landscape was beyond me. Anyways, that reminded me of the website that advertised/warned people that wildlife are within the parks in Anchorage and one needs to take care. I started singing and knocking my stick on the trees - a few times giving myself a small shower from the water collected on the leaves above.
After I finally found some more substantial trails that had information sign posts, I felt more secure that I was in an OK place.
However there were no direction markers. I just kept trying to go north and /or east to the best of my ability. Eventually I was coming along and saw house up ahead and figured I must be getting close to the coast trail. But the trail puttered out in their back yard. I pulled out my phone so I could orient -- and oh my god if I were not coming out the southern boundary of the park again! I don’t think I’ve ever been so turned around before. Suddenly the Blair Witch came back all that much more poignantly.
From then on I kept a much closer eye on my phone map to make sure I was making progress towards the coast, and pretty soon emerged here. Again - the transition was so abrupt. I only saw the pavement a few dozen steps before I was standing on it.
I was pretty tired by now - the adrenaline had been coursing, from both the surprise and excitement, and it wasn't all that easy of walking. Down the tail a bit I found a bench, and had JUST sat down and took off my purse and backpack -- about to take my first breath of relief... when a woman biked up to me and said "Hello". I thought - how friendly! "Hello." But then she continues, in a shaky voice, "There is a bear up ahead on the path, and I’m not from Alaska and I don’t know what we’re supposed to do! I was hoping that you were going to come past me and we could go up the path together." HA
I said I’m not from Alaska either but there was a pretty constant traffic of cyclists on the path, and I thought it unlikely a bear would be interested in tangling with any of them. "I’m sure if we make noise he’s going to want to try to avoid us." She didn't look all that convinced, and then she goes "Oh my god there he is!" About 50 feet behind me in the forest. He paused and looked at us and I couldn’t tell if he was going to come out the path right next to the bench, so I grabbed my bags and said let’s head up the path now..., but he trundled on into the forest instead. Thankfully ... because I really was looking forward to having a bit of a rest!! :-D
And so I sat there on my bench trying to figure out where to next. I had hoped to walk to downtown -- I heard it was about 3 miles away. Except I realized my app said I’d already walked 4 miles! And I still had to make it back home. I decided downtown would have to happen tomorrow.
Taking a rather long path home, I walked up the Chester Creek trail - which starts at a lovely meandering fish ladder up from the coast into a large lagoon utterly packed with sea birds.
Then headed for dinner and lucked out to discover what turned out to be one of my host's favorite places: the Spenard Roadhouse. The burger was amazing.
Over 9 miles today. Certainly longer than my intent, but as a way to clear my head and leave the considerable baggage of all that is going on at home behind? It worked like a charm!! (and the next morning as I type this up? I am NOT crippled as I had feared I might be! Yippee! :-) )
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