Driving down South is a gorgeous drive, no matter where you are headed. There are mountains and lakes for miles.
Anchorage Wilderness Adventure –Girdwood, Chugach Mountains
We started our Girdwood adventure visiting animals. This is somewhat of an outdoor zoo that allows visitors to see the animals of the area in enclosures, getting up close to moose, buffalo, bear, caribou, and smaller animals such as eagles, porcupines, etc. It is self-led, about 1.5 miles, and was a pretty backdrop, and much of what we expected to see. Piper loved seeing the animals, and Brady was pretty much ready to go at arrival. We were glad we went, but it may have not been our favorite family adventure.
Flat Top Mountain
This was a rock climbing and sledding experience all in one! We had no idea what we were in for when we started out this hike. It was supposed to be 5 miles with a significant climb in elevation and was rated as strenuous. There were also wildfires out west which made views smoky.
We started out our hike with Piper leading the way. Since she’s excited to be one of the “fast ones” now she was determined she’d get there first. We encountered snow and started weaving our way up the mountain. We realized several miles in that there wasn’t much of a trail. It was basically rock climbing, with small little rocks that were also slippery!
Piper started slowing, and with the wind, she made sure that she had all fours within reach, taking one step at a time. Brady took off and made it up to the top of the mountain pretty quickly, giving us a thumbs up, when he arrived. Pretty soon, we all made it and were so proud of ourselves!
The climb back down was more treacherous than planned. We were afraid the steps we took up to the trail were going to be too much for my knee, so we asked fellow hikers about another way back around the mountain. With their endorsement, we headed back down on a new trail. The grade was really steep and in a lot of places, very, very slippery rock with little to hold onto. Piper loved sitting close to the ground and sliding down on her feet. Brady and Steven ran some…but I went sideways taking it step by step.
Pretty soon, we encountered several feet of snow that we had to go through to continue going down the mountain. We heard Steven started laughing ahead, and explained that Brady slid down the mountain on his bottom with a big jump off at the end. Before we could arrive, Brady had already walked back up and done it again.
Then it was Steven’s turn, he was steading himself, but slipped and came into the landing much faster than expected or wanted. Brady cautioned us to slow ourselves down with our elbows, but since Steven wasn’t ready, he didn’t. He also realized that there was an unexpected 5 ft drop off, that may have been experienced a little differently between a 15-year-old and 47 year old.
Needless to say, Steven screamed a few explicatives (loudly according to the kids), and then popped up and landed on the ground. He cut his hand up pretty good, but we were all laughing, after we knew he was ok. Piper and I took the sledding adventure much more cautiously, with me going super slow, and the boys catching me at the end.
We laughed and laughed when we got to the bottom, and Piper said it was her most fun hike ever.