Guest Post; Hike to the Hand Tram at Winner Creek

Encase you missed our post earlier this month entitled “Fall Hiking from Alyeska Resort,” you can view it HERE! And as you can now see, this guest post from Emily Style was the perfect follow-up post as it includes an in-depth, picturesque action story from one of the trails we featured; Winner Creek. So read on below to experience a little bit more about what you will see when hiking Winner Creek Trail in Girdwood, Alaska.

Image Courtesy of National Geographic

Image Courtesy of National Geographic

Our penultimate post from Alaska! After visiting Hope, we drove the RV up to Girdwood to get ready to head home. Behind the Alyeska Resort (more on that tomorrow!) there’s a trail head for Winner Creek, part of the Chugach National Forest.

This six mile roundtrip hike takes you through the northernmost rain forest in the world. I had been looking for Shy Maiden wildflowers and finally saw them here.

Rolling hills, few mosquitos – lovely hike made all the more exciting because it’s part of the Iditarod route and promises a mysterious-sounding “hand tram” ahead.

Past halfway, you cross a bridge over a rushing gorge with teal water.

You’ve made it to the hand tram in no time at all! This contraption involves a metal basket, rope, pulleys and a steep canyon below. I suppose it is designed so you can pull yourself across in the basket, but it is much easier with someone pulling you from the platform. A unique experience!

At the end of the trail, you reach the Cold Creek Gold Mine.

This property is a functioning gold mine for tourists ($20), a historical site ($10) and a wedding venue. It was getting late, so we didn’t go in. You can also walk to Girdwood town from this side of the creek for a 9-mile loop.

Our last new wildflower of the trip: Trailing Raspberry.

For more great adventure and BlogSpot action, check out EmilyStyle’s blog, HERE!
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Five Simple, Seasonal Fall Favorites!

When you live on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground, it is pretty easy to say that simplicity is the greatest form of satisfaction. We have the esteemed privilege of living in one of the most beautiful places in the world. We can walk out our front door and be fully submerged in the mecca of all-things-outdoorsy. From mountains, to glaciers, to wildlife… the simple beauty that surrounds us is something that we are oh-so incredibly thankful for with every day that passes. So much so that we compiled small but plentiful list of some of our favorite little seasonal traditions. So before the snow fly’s (and sticks for the next 6 months), we highly recommend jumping on these 5 Simple, Seasonal Fall Favorites…
Photo Credit: Alaska From Scratch
1. Wake up early enough to catch the sunrise, while the frost is still lingering and the air is crisp. If you go the extra mile and drive to enjoy a killer view, we are pretty sure that you might experience *magic*… Don’t believe us? Just look below to see a sight so beautiful, you might end up loosing your breath for a brief moment!
Photo Credit: Jeff Nelson
2. Chase a reflection, without using a mirror! There is no better time of year to make time for a road trip, to nowhere. Grab your family and friends. Maybe a pumpkin spiced latte or a gingerbread donut. And just drive and enjoy the magical landscape around you. Take time to soak in all of the beautiful changing colors of the leaves. Tip: Stunning lakes such as this one in Cooper Landing, AK are known for delivering the pot-o-gold!
Photo Credit: Heidi Ho Hanson
3. Remember #2? Well, this is why. Soon, all of the leaves will fall to the ground and we will be snow-bound until May. So before they all fall off, or rather, get eaten off by those silly moose… get out and enjoy the most colorful time of year on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground! The only thing you have to loose is the opportunity for a great photo-op!
Photo Credit: Anthony Vet
4. Termination Dust! Although we love “all things Alaska’s Playground” all-year-round, we are quite partial to the enchanting beauty that is displayed when the mountains are freshly snow-capped and we are still able to enjoy (mostly) all of the fun, active, outdoor activities that we’ve grown accustomed to all summer long. Probably because it feels like we are living in a fairytale. I mean, c’mon… sights like this are simply too beautiful to put into words!
Photo Credit: Ron Niebrugge
5. This short-but-sweet list would not be complete without referencing the glorious Aurora Borealis! We are loosing just over 5 minutes of daylight with every day that passes right now. And although we are moving into the dark and chilly months, we are in a constant euphoria of star-struck magic with the beaming Northern Lights on full display! Tip: Clear days and evenings offer the best chances of seeing the lights. 10pm-2am offers peak auroral activity.
Photo Credit: Carl Johnson
And after you’ve checked all of the above off of your list… sit back, relax, and take in the beautiful views and splendors of The Kenai! A moose-do!
Photo Credit: Kathleen Barth

A Miracle Happened with Exit Glacier Guides

Ready for an amazing story filled with a dash of luck and a huge serving of the warmest Alaskan hospitality that you can think of? Check this out: Ryan Fisher with Exit Glacier Guides in Seward, Alaska found a camera on the glacier this year that had popped out of a crevasse after being in the glacier for 4 years!
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The camera was trashed but when he took the memory card out and plugged it in, ALL of the pictures were intact!
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Ryan and his team went through all of their waivers and found out who the camera belonged to and mailed it back.
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Roman Lyskowski had his entire Alaskan vacation on that memory card and thought all his pictures were lost. Turns out they were just traveling downhill in the glacier for a few years.
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A great story to be told about a small miracle that happened. But most importantly everyone is just so happy that Roman got his treasured pictures back! Great job Ryan Fisher and the Exit Glacier Guides team!

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Fall Hiking from Alyeska Resort

By now, it’s absolutely no secret that Fall season on The Kenai, Alaska’s Playground is (hands down) breathtakingly beautiful. But when you add in the natural beauty that Alaska offers with Alaska’s premier year-round destination, Alyeska Resort… the possibilities for fun and excitement are endless.

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Facebook Page

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Facebook Page

So if you are someone who’s ever had a tough time figuring out what exactly to do when the weather is “in between seasons,” we are here for you. What does that mean exactly? “In between seasons” on Alaska’s Playground means that it is too chilly to venture outside without a few extra layers on, generally the fishing is slowing down, and it feels like it is cold enough to snow, but there is no snow on the ground as of yet so winter sports (skiing, sledding, snowboarding, etc.) are out of the question.

Image Courtesy of Alaska from Scratch

Image Courtesy of Alaska from Scratch

This “in between season” is often times referred to as Fall in Alaska. The ongoing joke is that Alaska only has two seasons; Summer and Winter. But in actuality, we do have a beautiful Fall season in Alaska. It is usually just short and sweet, with very chilly “feels like snow weather” temps that fill the days and nights. Golden light and crisp air is ever-apparent this year in the town of Girdwood, AK as you head to Alyeska Resort. Notice some of the snow-capped mountains.

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Facebook Page

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Facebook Page

One activity that is perfect for Fall season in Alaska is Hiking & Trekking. Why? Because although the weather is chilly, once you get your body in motion and begin to work up a little sweat, the low temp is actually something that quickly becomes very enjoyable and incredibly welcoming. Some even opt for shorts and t-shirts this time of year when hiking at Alyeska Resort simply because they know that they are bound to get in a great workout.

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Blog

Image Courtesy of Alyeska Resort Blog

Fall Hiking & Trekking from Alyeska Resort is a great time for individuals and families to enjoy. Convinced? If not, continue on to read more about some incredible trails for beginners and experienced hikers alike. With all the incredible options and fascinating views, we are certain that you will be putting a trek from Alyeska Resort on your bucket list ASAP.

Winner Creek Trail: The most accessible hiking trail is Winner Creek, which begins near the base of the aerial tram. This trail offers a leisurely way through a lush rainforest environment. The first half-mile of the trail is on boardwalk surface; after that point, the trail becomes an easy dirt path with some uneven surfaces in places. Near the two-and-a-half-mile mark on this hike, there is a beautiful river gorge with a bridge and hand tram that allows you to pull yourself across the creek.

Image Courtesy of Emily Style

Image Courtesy of Emily Style

Upper Winner Creek Trail: Less developed than Winner Creek Trail. Start on Winner Creek Trail and follow signs to Upper Winner Creek. This trail contours the valley along the South side of the creek for approximately 8 miles of outstanding views and level tread.

Image by Blain Anderson

Image by Blain Anderson

Winner Creek Extension Trail: Access the trail from the hotel pond courtyard. The path will end at Verbier Way near Challenge Alaska.

Image by Blain Anderson

Image by Blain Anderson

The North Face Trail: The 2.2 mile steep, advanced trail starts right from the hotel. Featuring a mix of road and single-track with switchbacks, the North Face trail ascends the 2,000 vertical foot slope of this classic ski terrain. Hikers, who make it to the top, can take a complimentary descending ride on the aerial tram too.

Image from Alaska Hike Search

Image from Alaska Hike Search

Upper Tram Terminal Trails: Advanced trails

Image from Alaska Daily News

Image from Alaska Daily News

South Bowl Trails: Intermediate to advanced trails

Image Courtesy of EpicEric

Image Courtesy of EpicEric

Multi-Use Nordic Loop: Multi-use trail can be accessed at end of Arlberg Avenue by The Hotel Alyeska.

Image Courtesy of www.skigirdwood.com

Image Courtesy of http://www.skigirdwood.com

Girdwood to Indian Bike Path: Easy walking on a paved bike path provides a mellow out-and-back trail

Image Courtesy of http://withoutbaggage.com

Image Courtesy of http://withoutbaggage.com

Here is map provided by www.Alaska.org with some more detail of where the Girdwood to Indian Bike Path goes.

Image Courtesy of Alaska.org

Image Courtesy of Alaska.org

If you are looking to spend a day outside, enjoying all that Alaska’s Playground has to offer… we highly recommend a hike from Alyeska Resort! Keep in mind that these are just hikes from the resort. There are a TON of more options if you’d like to take a hike somewhere in Girdwood Valley area or the Portage Valley area. Click on the link to explore all that there is to offer. And of course, feel free to contact us directly by submitting a comment below if you have any questions or would like further suggestions. Get out and PLAY, and reward yourself with soaking up a view that most can only dream of seeing in their lifetime. Hurry, before the snow fly’s! #hikeAK

Image Courtesy of Ed Clapper

Image Courtesy of Ed Clapper