Saturday, April 13, 2013

HIking on Alaska's Big Island

Kodiak Alaska

Last summer our lodge-owning friend, Dave, hired us for five weeks to work at Saltery Lake Lodge, on Kodiak Island.  TH was the head fishing guide and my duties included grocery shopping in town,  picking up/dropping off guests at the airport, and other odd jobs at the lodge.  At least twice a week I had the opportunity to fly between Kodiak City and the lodge on Dave's Cessna 185 floatplane.  The flight was so stunning, it made my heart hurt.


Kodiak ranks in my top three Alaskan locations (following my cabin and my dad's garden in Fairbanks).  Initially, it was the wildflowers that convinced me to buy retirement property on Kodiak Island.  

kodiak island

Then I was seduced by the layers upon layers of vibrant green mountains, the views of the turquoise sea, the abundant wildlife, and the ease with which you can be alone in the wilderness. I spent many of my days off in hiking boots and quick-dry pants.  If you ever go to Kodiak, I hope the following hiking information can be of use.  

Alaskan Outdoor Tips: 
While hiking in Alaska I:  
  • carry pepper spray
  • make noise while in deep brush to alert bears of my presence
  • stand still and talk calmly to any bears I encounter
My favorite Kodiak hikes:

Barometer Mountain Kodiak

The trailhead is off Burma Road, across from the airport, the beginning of this hike can be elusive.  I wandered around for quite a bit before finding the semblance of a path.  Once you have discovered the established trail, expect to push your way through 15 minutes of thick salmonberry bushes. Soon you will begin the steep, exposed incline that doesn't cease until you have reached the peak (about four miles from the salmonberry patch).  You might do a little crawling, so don't wear your favorite pants (see below).  

Barometer Mountain hike Kodiak

old women's hike kodiak

Head south past the airport, turn right on Aviation Hill, left at the beginning of the subdivision, and then park behind the Coast Guard building.  Early in the hike you will be rewarded with splendid views of the bay and Kodiak City.  After a fairly steady incline you will reach a plateau on which you can walk for hours, admiring the pink flowers and icy-blue lakes. 


pillar mountain kodiak

This hike is pretty easy.  In fact, most people drive all of the way to the top.  I prefer to hike from the trail at the quarry, stopping every few feet to say, "Are you kidding me?!",  trying to absorb the outrageous vistas.  You will also have a great perspective of Kodiak from the top, as well as the opportunity to view the wind turbines in action.

Pillar Mountain Kodiak

fort abercrombie kodiak

This state park offers numerous trails that meander along the coast, past World War II bunkers, through wildflower meadows and salmonberry patches, and down to scenic beaches often used by picnicking locals.  The park is located less than five files from downtown, heading north on Mill Bay Road.  I was amazed with the botanical/terrain variety each trail offered.

fort abercrombie state park kodiak

Have you visited a place and immediately felt the desire to live their permanently?  If so, where? 

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