Some Things Are Cool
"You don't know if you don't go."
I was laid off from my job recently – last day was May 19th. It’s too bad because I was excited to get into water infrastructure engineering, but we just didn’t win the proposals we hoped to and I was low man on the totem pole. Never fret, I’m back in Alaska for the summer, and I plan on traveling around and picking up work over the next three months.
It’s sort of like my blog was left in a time capsule for one year and here I am to pick it up again.
June 15, 2017 – 11:50pm
Ok I’m finally on my own. My friend and point of contact here in Anchorage was incredibly hospitable, picking me up from the airport, taking me on her guided hikes, giving me a place to stay, a bike to ride, a place to cook… the list goes on.
There’s a lot to get down in writing already, namely two local day hikes, but it’s late, I’m tired and I wanted to write tonight mostly because I wanted to fulfill my goal of journaling everyday. My first day with internet is tomorrow – then on to “The High One” – Denali!
June 16, 2017
June 17, 2017
Dangit! Already broke my one day streak of writing everyday. Habits are tough. They’re tough to form and tough to break.
Plato talks about the existence of an idealized or “perfect” form of a thing. How do we know a circle or a rabbit when we see one? Well he argues that there must exist an ideal circle and an ideal rabbit that we compare the actual thing to, and after comparison we can decide “eh, close enough” or “No, that looks more like a hare.”
Somewhere drifting around my mind is the ideal version of Jay, with all the good habits saved and bad habits kicked, and he trots through life even-tempered, reliable, and warm. The humbling part comes when I compare myself to ideal Jay, and the best I can cash out is a “Well, he is trying.”
I should point out that this theory of Plato’s has been thoroughly dismantled and rebutted because while it holds true for things like a circle, most objects and concepts exist on a continuum. For instance, what the heck do you call the offspring of a rabbit and a hare? But this doesn’t keep me from imagining what being my ideal self would be like, with all the knobs and dials relating to efficiency and congeniality tuned just right.
I blame the multiverse theory where somewhere out there that other Jay might exist.
As I write I’m rolling up Hwy 3 from Anchorage to Denali. My plan is to stay there for a week before hitchhiking back to Anchorage, then out to Matanuska Glacier, then over to the town I lived in last year, McCarthy.
I went on two day-hikes since arriving, both in Chugach State Park, their separate trailheads are surprisingly close to Alaska’s largest city, being only a 25 minute drive from downtown Anchorage. The first was a 4-mile one-way climb up Falls Creek Valley. It was a steep, well-beaten incline for the first two miles and a steady incline after that. It felt good to wake up my legs and lungs despite the fact that I was operating on 3-4 hours of intermittent sleep collected during my 10-hour layover in Juneau and patches of wakeful dozing on the plane.
Towards the top of Falls Creek we were afforded a V-cut window back down to Turnagain Arm. The low tide drain down of the arm inlet reached its lowest point around 4pm, two hours after the oceanic low-tide. Tidal currents into and out of Turnagain are restricted by its relatively narrow inlet. This causes the Turnagain water level to chase the ocean’s, cyclically overshooting and over-drawing during high and low tides. My understanding is that this phenomena all relates to the waters momentum.
During high tide there is a delay period between the time the Turnagain Arm water level matches the oceans and when its water level stops rising. This period is how long it takes for the incoming water to react to Turnagain being full in order to slow down and reverse its flow. This delay in the water direction reversal “packs” the Turnagain and raises the high tide level. Basically, the tide goes in real far and out real low, and in the process creates some totally tubular hydraulic events known as bore tides.
My pictures can give you a sense of the landscape, but not captured in them is the bald eagle that strafed up the far side of the valley coming to ground near a flat mossy side creek. Not to put off what few international readers I may have, but seeing that majestic bird, wingtips unfurled and bowed upwards, its white head scanning from point to point, is enough to make this here patriot a mite bit misty eyed, I tell you whut.
The next day we got an earlier start and hit the trail just before 10am, this time tackling a 12-14 mile loop out to Willowaw Lakes.
Low clouds in the morning made navigating difficult and after gaining the first ridge we got slightly turned around, backtracking briefly and setting our course correct with the help of every wilderness adventurer’s best friend: Google Maps.
About 6-7 miles into the hike we came to a half-frozen lake where we decided to take lunch. The three miles leading up to that lake were the kind of hiking that, in my limited experience, is unique to Alaska. Us three picked our way over the lichen splatter rocks and tufts of spongy tundra grass. Something about hiking cross country and choosing each footfall speaks to me.
In a happy little fog induced mistake we hiked up the ridge between our lunch spot lake and the larger lake to its north (I only mention this because I have a neat video overlooking them both – but the Wi-Fi in the Denali Visitor Center is too weak for me to bother to upload it. Stay tuned). Back on the right track we descended down alongside the larger lake and followed its lower valley past the Willowaw Lakes and on down its gradual decline stoping twice for distant moose sightings.
Thus capping off my sensational first two days in Alaska, the greatest of the sensations being fatigue – in my calves and thighs to be specific – followed closely by gratitude and excitement. Or perhaps it’s best to think of they three hiking cross country on their chosen trails, each taking point at their leisure.