Last Thursday was a hot and sunny day in Anchorage, so my coworker and I decided to get into work a little early so that we could leave by 3:00 pm and go hiking. We wanted to do something new and after much googling we decided on Lazy Mountain, a tough hike about 1 hour away in Palmer. We had heard from people that this was a “hard” hike, but also heard that there was a side trail called Lazy Moose with switchbacks that helped make the first part of the trail easier. We googled the length of this trail and found lots of conflicting numbers due to the fact that some people take the short trail and some take the longer trail, but we saw anything between 4-8 miles listed on websites. So armed with some snacks, water, and a rain jacket we headed up the mountain at around 4:30 pm.
The sun was shining and the 75 degree weather felt brutally hot as we walked through the beginning forested area of the trail. The switchbacks helped make the trail bearable, but we were so hot that we both felt sick. We also felt tired from a long work week and felt like we were moving so slowly. Eventually the views started opening up and we could see that we were getting even higher than the Butte, one of our favorite short hikes in the middle of the valley. Amazing views always help me feel better!
Once we came out of the tree line we were starting to feel better about things. We took a break on a perfectly placed picnic table and discussed turning around. I googled the trail and saw that one website said that the summit was only 1 mile from us (this was a lie). We also thought we could see the top of the mountain, so we decided to keep going up. This hike quickly became steeper than ever before. I kept getting bursts of energy as I thought I was reaching the top of the mountain, only to come over a ridge and discover that I was at a false summit and we still had a long way to go. We also saw some wicked looking rain clouds moving in. But every time we thought about turning around we ultimately decided not to since the top was “probably right there”.
I started to realize that I needed to dig deep if I was going to reach the top. I worked on my mental strength in pushing through the tough parts and the feeling that I was never going to get there. I was so hot and tired but didn’t allow myself to think about either of those things. I just thought about how amazing it was going to be to look over the top of Lazy Mountain and see what was on the other side.
We eventually reached another picnic table and sat down for another break. A runner ran down from the mountain, and we asked if we were almost there. He told us that the trail in front of us was not a false peak and that we really were almost there! I then checked my phone and realized that we had already gone 5 miles and that it was almost 8:00 pm. We had clearly underestimated the real trail distance and how long it would take to do this mountain, but we couldn’t turn around now!
After one final tough push up a steep slope, I finally came over the ridge and saw the flag at the summit! I almost cried with happiness. The views up there were worth every step it took to get there, especially when I saw the rainbow that was waiting for us at the summit!
The way back down was much easier, especially once we were back on the Lazy Moose trail which was not as steep. We tried every trick in the book to distract ourselves from how tired, hot, and hungry we were. Finally we reached our car at 10:15 pm after doing somewhere between 10-12 miles! And yes, the midnight sun was still high in the sky. We ate some well deserved Dairy Queen for dinner and then headed home. I didn’t get home until midnight and was definitely tired at work the next day, but it was still a perfect way to spend my evening!
If you’re thinking about hiking Lazy, here are some tips to make your hike more enjoyable:
- Think about what challenge you would rather take on. The traditional Lazy trail is straight up and apparently very steep, but the Lazy Moose trail is longer and will take more time. No matter what, it’s going to be a hard hike.
- Be prepared with more water and snacks than you think you’ll need. I am always over prepared but this time we were prepared for a maximum of 8 miles out there so we ran out of water when it took way longer than we thought.
- Unless you’re speedy and strong this may not be the best post-work hike if you live in Anchorage. It would be awesome if you live in Palmer and don’t have to drive as far.
- Get ready for all the false peaks. I started feeling like every “peak” we saw was definitely not it and we would never get there! The real peak has a flag at the top.
- If you’re physically ready for it you can do it! Don’t let the mental aspect of all of those false peaks and the length of the trail keep you from getting to the top. You got this!
Have you ever underestimated a hike? How do you get through the tough mental parts of a long hike?