After leaving our camp in Talkeetna I really had no idea what Hatchers Pass was going to hold for us, but after about an hour drive the views started changing and I was dying over the fog rolling in around the mountains.
This was the drive up to the Archangel Valley trail head. We stopped a few times next to some rushing rivers and saw people picking wild blueberries, which made me worried bears have to be around!
After paying the day parking fee we packed our day bags and headed off on the dirt road/trail. We only saw one jeep that had actually drove up the road, I don't think it was recommended.
As we started walking I was surprised at how winded I was feeling and got dizzy as I tried pretending NOT to take deep breathes as my in shape (soon to be) sister-in-law was trying to talk to me. It's like when you're running with a friend and you're doing all the talking and you wonder why you're the only one out of breath! (Maybe that only happens to me?)
So I let myself fall back at my own pace and be the "photographer", which is always a good excuse to go a little slower. But really, I'd like to challenge somebody to keep up with this athletic duo!
Oh wait, they're gone again!
Now going at my own pace, I would stop for as long as I'd like and sit with the mountains. I watched the clouds roll by in one spot for thirty minutes or more before I felt like I could move on. So, if you're wondering I'm a great hiking partner for all you newbies :)
We caught up with each other at the fork in the path and ate a few snacks as we talked about the plan. Our "plan" was to find a climbing area called, "The Jungle Gym" and my brother was having a hard time deciding which valley it was hidden in. We even came across some other climbers and it seemed like nobody had heard of the area, the more popular climbs were trad so my brother went one way and Kailey and I went exploring another.
The valley we came across was stunning and as we climbed around on the huge boulders until my legs started feeling like jello! I'm assuming Kailey's were fine because she easily made her way across the sloped mountainside toward my brother who had indeed found the hidden "Jungle Gym".
I of course took my time making sure to get bit by a ton of mosquitos and sat for a while taking in the views. I again could not believe I was in Alaska...
It felt like forever once I was ready to get to the rock wall, I swear I wasn't getting any closer and the boulders kept getting bigger. My legs were already jello and I was suppose to climb after this?
I stayed entertained in my head as I remembered me laughing in Moosejaw as I asked what "approach" shoes were for...and I was like, you mean you have to approach the wall in a certain fashion?
When I finally reached the slab base my older brother was eating an MRE and my other brother was already lead climbing the wall. It's hard to tell how steep the mountain side was, but trust me it was steep! Falling down the rock face was one thing, but tumbling down the mountain was another, and I was experiencing watching a person lead climb for the first time! Let's just say I was having a hard time staying relaxed!
Once settled in and letting my legs take a break we sat watching everybody climb to our left and enjoyed the views down the valley on our right. You could see the trail down below and I couldn't help but feel accomplished. Everything was perfect; the weather, the views, the company, the adventure.
I didn't want to leave.
We all tried our hand at climbing the 5.9 "As Good as it Gets" and cried laughing when my Dad reached the top. He has only climbed like once in his life! Kailey had a scary fall when a rock broke on her while she was wasn't tied in and we all almost had a heart attack as we felt a sudden awareness of how small we are on the mountain. Kailey being the sweetest and toughest Colorado Girl you'll ever meet, sat up after her very scary and very long tumble and said her famous, "I'm ok!"
So, we kept climbing and this time a little more carefully.
We spent well over a few hours at the Jungle Gym before we headed further up the slope to "Randy's Roof", where my little brother again almost gave me a heart attack!
We were bundled up with all the layers we brought at that point as the winds were colder and Eric started boiling water with a chemical powder from his MRE pack...that's right, coffee hot from a box on a mountain side!
So we sat and drank our luke warm coffee and tried to relax as we watched our youngest brother dominate the climb.
I sat there feeling so proud of this guy! He's so strategic and makes his moves slowly and thoughtfully. After breaking two toes last Spring I was looking for something that allowed me to feel competitive again and after he introduced me to rock climbing I was hooked, but that didn't keep an older sister from freaking out!
After watching Ryan finish "Randy's Roof", we packed up our bags and started the slow slide/climb down the mountainside. The afternoon had brought dew that covered everything, so careful not to slip we slowly worked our way down to the valley.
Once I was in the valley I felt small again and couldn't believe we just spent the afternoon climbing along such a beautiful mountainside.
By the time we made it all the way down the trail to the RV I realized we'd been gone over eight hours! Another amazing thing about Alaska, sunset still wouldn't be for another 5-6 hours.
If you read all my blabbing, I hope you're ready to visit Hatchers Pass and if you are - please let me know! If you just looked at the pictures, that's okay too! I've started putting my fine art prints on my website if you're interested in any, feel free to message me here.