I am full of excuses. My last few posts were terribly delayed. Like weeks after the actual event delayed. My job is great, minus when I end up working 12 hour days, or nights and have little time to do much other than work. And when I do have time, writing is the last thing I want to do. Like seriously, my writing is shit when I am tired. Then it is not so great for updating a website in my off time. But, this week is a little slower so you will get a timely blog post!
Last Friday, I got the fuck out of work ASAP... right at 4 pm. A handful of my friends from college do an "annual" backpacking trip. I have managed to miss it every year for 6 years in a row. For some reason, they still invite me every year. This year's trip was a Friday evening hike up Fuller Lakes trail just south of Cooper Landing. I have wanted to hike in the Mystery Hills for a while now, so I was all over not missing the trip yet again. Lindsay and I packed up and then picked up our carpool. 4 people, 3 dogs, and gear... full rig. At least the gear could go in the bed of the truck. Shiro finally conceded that he had to share his backseat and curled up on the floor 50 miles into the 100 mile drive. It was a pleasant drive down past Girdwood, through Turnagain Pass, Summit Lake, and into Cooper Landing. We met the rest of our party (2 more humans and 2 more dogs) at the trail head about 10 miles south of Cooper Landing.
Around 8 pm we set off up the trail. The trail is only 2-3 miles long, depending on if you stop at the first lake or go all the way to the end of the last lake. The dogs took off up the trail. Shiro was stoked for all of his new besties. The humans followed. The trail winds up a forested hillside. It frequently transitions from incremental to moderate incline. Overall, you gain about 1500 feet over the 2 mile ascent. Once you reach the first lake, the last mile to the end of the last lake is pretty flat.
About a mile in, my normally spastic dog started lagging behind. Like, I would come up behind him and tell him to move it along and he would just look at me with his ears back. Ok. Maybe his pack is bothering him. I stopped, he stopped and looked pathetic. I took off his pack. He still looked pathetic. Ok dog, what is bothering you? I performed a brief trauma assessment on him. No obvious injuries and nothing seemed tender... he was lifting his right paw up. Maybe it is bothering him. Check for anything sticking in his toes or pads... nothing. Maybe it is further up his leg? I pulled out an ace bandage and decided to just wrap it up for good measure.
At this point, the group had realized I had disappeared (way to not tell them I was stopping... I had assumed it would be fast) and Lindsay came back to find me. As soon as Shiro saw her he was magically better and went running off with his half wrapped up leg... Apparently he was faking it. We wrapped up his leg and met up with the rest of the group. Shiro was still less enthusiastic than usual, but not acting as weird as he was and seemed ok with pushing onward.
We reached the first lake. 4 of the 5 dogs decided to go for a muddy swim. Time to start looking for a camp site. Supposedly there are sites from here to the end of the last lake. We found a large site at the beginning of the first lake. A few members of the party walked around to the end of the lake to check for more. The recon concluded there was a slightly nicer site with more flat ground for three tents at the end of the lake but the hike there was not worth it. We stayed put, set up camp, laughed at the escapades of the dogs, and enjoyed some good company.
It was a pleasant night, not too hot or too cold. Morning found us packing up and heading back down all too soon. This would be a cool place to come back to with more time and either follow the ridge up Round Mountain or follow the primitive trail that leads through the mystery hills for 13 miles and comes down the Skyline trailhead. We headed back to town, stopped at Big Shots Espresso in Cooper landing, and got back around 2.
The next day, Lindsay and I were feeling inspired to check out Eagle River. I have known of the Mile Hi trailhead and its trail to Mt Magnificent. However, I had not heard that if you turn the other way from the saddle you get to a knoll known as the Iron Nipple. I read this article earlier in the week and decided we should check it out. After attending some events in town in the morning/early afternoon, we cruised up to Eagle River.
The trailhead was mostly straightforward to find. We turned onto Eagle River Road and found Mile Hi road. We followed it up, picking the road that lead up if there was an option. The confusing part was the guide we were using said that the trailhead was off Beaver Street. There is no Beaver Street in the vicinity. We used our powers of deduction to conclude the trailhead was located by the 7 parked cars on the side of the road.
We walked past the fairly innocuous signage designating this as the trailhead. About 100 yards down the wide gravel trail, we saw a radio tower and the trail to the left. We followed it up for maybe 20-30 minutes before reaching the saddle. The trail lazily switchbacks through brush and forest before opening up into blueberry-laden alpine meadows.
We looked to our ultimate objective for the day to the left: The Iron Nipple. The trail to the right up Mt. Magnificant will be for another day with an earlier start. The views were stunning... and blueberries were abundant. We drank/poured out one of our water bottles and started filling it with blueberries. It didn't take long to fill up. Lindsay started filling her pockets so we decided it was time to kill the other water bottle and fill it too. We quickly filled up the second liter. Once the blueberry picking had concluded, we headed up to the Iron Nipple for some great views and photos. Check out my sweet photos for TNF Animagi Jacket from this hike. By this time, it was pushing 7:30, and time to head back; we wanted time to make some fresh-picked blueberry pie.