On my first day in Alaska to visit my friend John it rained all day. So we hiked in the rainforest. Nothing could have been more fitting.
We drove 34 miles southeast from John’s condo in Anchorage to Girdwood, where we hiked the Winner Creek Trail, a five-mile roundtrip in the Chugach National Forest. This is the northern tip of the North American coastal rainforest. It’s lush and lovely.
In particular I saw more mushrooms of all sorts than I had seen in my whole life.
John came to Alaska two months ago to serve as senior pastor of the United Methodist Church in Anchorage. I came to Alaska at 10 p.m. last night after a five-hour flight from Denver. The last two or three hours of the flight showed me the longest sunset of my life as we flew into the sun.
The stream we hiked along, Winner Creek, probably gets it name from the Iditarod Trail. I hope that the famous dog sled race doesn’t have to cross this gorge:
We hiked to the “hand tram” on the trail, where we had to pull a rope to get across Glacier River. We went even though at the beginning of the trail we had seen a sign that the hand tram was out of order because the “haul rope needs to be replaced.” But it looked safe enough to me, and John pulled me.
We completed the day by hiking a couple of miles to Byron Glacier just before we got to where the ships come in at Whittier, were we had a delicious fresh fish dinner.
I couldn’t have had a better or more appropriate introduction to Alaska.