Have you ever stood in the snow while wearing a tank top? If so, you know exactly what spring is like in Alaska. With our extra long sunlight hours and gorgeous sunny days, spring warms up faster than the snow can melt!
The last two weekends have been absolutely gorgeous in Anchorage, and I’ve been taking advantage of the perfect weather with lots of hiking. Last weekend I hiked out to Near Point, a long but pretty moderate trail up to the top of a mountain in the front range. This hike starts out pretty flat for a few miles and then goes directly to the top of Near Point without ever getting really steep. I’ve never actually made it up to the summit before now, and I can’t believe what I was missing!
The views at the top are gorgeous no matter what direction you look, and the warm weather allowed us to spend a bit of time hanging out at the top enjoying all the tough work it took to get up there. On the way up in the late morning the snow was still pretty easy to walk on, but on the way back the sunshine had melted the snow into slush and we did a lot of sliding back down the mountain. We used our microspikes the whole time to help as much as possible. My only regret was not bringing sunscreen – I definitely got sunburned being out there so long! This hike is 9 miles round trip so it’s hard to do after work, but I’m definitely planning on doing this a few more weekends this summer.
This weekend it was even warmer and less snowy than last weekend, but I was feeling too lazy for something long or difficult, so my friend and I hiked Baldy even though I was just there a few weeks ago. We took the the back way both up and down this time, which was a lot less steep and took longer so we got more time to spend on the mountain. Baldy is always a great hike, but this time was extra enjoyable because it was finally tank top weather! It was about 60 degrees and the sun was beating down on us and reflecting off the snow, so we were extra warm.
At the top we got an exciting surprise when we discovered that the ridge line was free of snow! We took our microspikes off and got the chance to walk on a snow free trail for the first time in months. Our dogs really enjoyed it because they got to run around in the mud. I can’t even begin to describe how amazing it felt to have the sun on my shoulders and arms after a long dark winter. We spent as much time at the summit as possible so that we could enjoy the sunshine a bit longer.
Spring in Alaska can be really slushy, icy, and muddy, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t keep hiking through it – you just have to be strategic about it. Bring microspikes and lots of layers, from tank tops all the way up to down jackets and rain/windproof jackets so you’ll be prepared for any type of weather. Starting a hike earlier in the day will help you get out there before the snow starts melting, and looking at the direction of the trail vs. the location of the sun will help you make a choice about what trails to hike. Some of the trails are already getting pretty snow free due to their location in a particularly sunny spot, while others are a great choice if you’re still looking for solid snow to hike on. No matter what you chose to hike in the spring, you’re guaranteed a whole lot more warmth and daylight with gorgeous and snowy views!
What is spring like where you live? What are you doing now that the snow is melting?