Thursday, September 22, 2011

Thunderbird Falls & Eklutna Lake

 Ooops, did I really forget all about this post in the making? FAIL!  Sorry, folks. As always, I have been a subpar blogger. Anywaaaaay....this mini excursion took place a couple months back in the early days of summer. We wanted a short easy hike with a rewarding endpoint (not too much to ask, right?). We took a friend's two thumbs up hiking Thunderbird Falls, just ten minutes away from the casa.

One thing we have to get used to here in AK is the parking fee required for...well...EVERYWHERE! Downtown parking is NOT free. Even the parking garage for the mall....and they don't offer validation! (Oh, Salt Lake City Gateway Mall, how I miss you!) Anywho. All Trailhead parking lots require a $5 fee. So come prepared.

The trail itself is well-maintained, and well-used.  The first 500 yards or so is a moderately steep incline, and then the trail levels out. Hiking sticks are nice on the way back down.
Towards the end, the trail forks with one way leading to the viewing deck for the falls, and the other winds down into the gorge.  We chose to see the falls first...

This picture is a sure indication that Missus Och is in desperate need of photography lessons...or a new bigger lens, perhaps? Or both? This is Thunderbird Falls as seen from the viewing deck.

We plopped down on the deck benches and enjoyed a nice little lunch. 

Goofed off a bit...

Then headed down into the secondary trail, which was much steeper. The kids did fine, though, and they sped down, eager to get to the water below.

This is about the best view you can get of the falls from the gorge below, unless you climb over some pretty slick rocks. Mister D and Sophia were begging to go until I explained that an unexpected tumble into that icy water below may not be deadly (It was pretty shallow), but the walk back to the parking lot would  be a miserable and wet one. 

It took us about an hour and a half with the hike and the lunch. We still had some energy left, so we decided to check out Eklutna Lake.

The sign as we entered the recreation ground. Lots of bears around!

Look at that view. There is a great multi-use trail that follows the perimeter of the lake.  At the other end, which is about 8? miles down is a glacier and another spectacular waterfall.  We were short on time as we still had church that night, so we just decided to let the kids run around at the beach.

This looks like a great camping spot for the fam next time around. Maybe even a little kayaking adventure later on. But for now, since summer is clearly over, it'll have to wait. 

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