Eklutna Lake

Eklutna Lake formed from the damming of the Eklutna River provides both power and water for the city of Anchorage.

Eklutna Lake at EveryTrail
http://www.everytrail.com/iframe2.php?trip_id=1179058&width=400&height=300EveryTrail – Find the best Hiking near Anchorage, Alaska

Twin Peaks, I hope to make it up these sometime.

Lupin on the trail

Bigger version

Up toward the ridgeline

Emily, who showed me the value of hiking poles!

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Wolverine Peak

Took advantage of probably the nicest weather to date in Anchorage (that I know of), to undertake another “backyard hike.” Wolverine peak lies directly east of my house and stands at 4455 ft ASL, just down the ridge between my previous two hikes, Near Point and Flattop.

Here is Wolverine Peak, directly north of Abbott Rd, and my place of residence

Things have really greened up nicely.

Rock pile that I added to, not sure of it’s purpose, maybe to mark the location of the trail to the bottom.

Eat your heart out Grand Forks, here is some serious mountain snirt!

Airplane wreckage from the 50’s apparently, at least that is what I was told.

Tried to get a low profile shot of the mossy foliage, got a fly mid-flight instead.

Snow that has escaped the sun’s wrath thus far.

View from the top, gotta check out those lakes on a future hike.


A couple  other hikers were nice enough to take my pic at the top.

Tried out a new tracking app:

Wolverine at EveryTrail

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On the Effects of Increasing Latitude

The most noticeable change since moving to Alaska is the increasing daylight and lack of true darkness. Shortly after moving to Alaska (approximately 61 degrees north) in mid-March it would be dark by the time I showed up to shift at 10pm local and got completely dark over the course of the night. Near the peak daylight gain we were gaining nearly 6 minutes of daylight per day! That adds up pretty quickly. Fast forward to today, just a week or so away from summer solstice, and the daylight gained is down to 2 minutes 4 seconds or so per day.  Now, I’ve noticed these effect sensibly as I work midnight shifts or am trying to sleep at “night” when the light creeps past the curtains. Recently though I’ve noticed some of the suns effects in more of an indirect way.

When the sun rises or sets, and the network of 159 WSR-88D RADARs gets a direct look at the sun and the radiation that it emits, it causes a sun spike to appear on the display. For the casual weather observer you’ll never see these as they are filtered out by an algorithm that tames both these and ground clutter. For those located in the continental U.S. they generally appear from an easterly direction when the sun rises and a westerly direction when the sun sets. Though here in Alaska I’ve noticed them appearing in at northwesterly direction in the 0600-0800Z time frame then again in the northeast a couple hours later.

SUNSET

SUNRISE

Another good way to visualize the effect is by looking at the visible satellite as the suns sets. You’ll notice the terminator(demarcation between day/night, thanks Dan!) encroaching across the state of Alaska. The difference here is that when it reaches northern Alaska the terminator pivots around Barrow as the sun starts to rise in the northeast.

From this image it appears as if all of southern Alaska does get completely dark, but that is not the case. This picture was taken around 2:20am local time. That is 5:20am for you central-ites out there.

SOLSTICE UPDATE:

you can see the terminator has shifted slightly south from my last loop.

View to the north about 2:30 AM AKDT

View to the east looking at the office and Chugach:

A couple of interesting links….
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/lmk/?n=sunset-spikes
http://www.crh.noaa.gov/mkx/?n=using-radar

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Near Point

Today was the warmest day in Anchorage that I have seen since I’ve been here.
PANC 270153Z 17009G14KT 10SM FEW055 SCT120 BKN200 21/02 A2971 RMK AO2 SLP062 T02060022

The beautiful weather in south-central Alaska brought to you by:

A developing high latitude Rex block.

Not a true 500mb geopotential height map, but more of a portrayal of the average longwave pattern.

I took advantage by partaking in a little “backyard hike” up to Near Point. Seemed to be a good opportunity to break in my new hiking boots.

wet/rocky trail...love the new boots already

View across Cook Inlet/Knik Arm: Mt. Susitna aka The Sleeping Lady

Making sure they are actually waterproof

Never know what you’re going to see here. Came from the military base just over the ridge I’m sure. A bit later it hovered just over an adjacent ridgetop for a few minutes. The music playing on my phone actually is a good fit.

I'm still not sure what made this print

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Chasing the Bore

With the absence of severe convection here in Alaska, I took the opportunity last week to do some chasing of a different kind, after a tidal bore. The bore tide is a type of hydraulic jump that forms on the leading edge of an incoming tide, and usually is seen after an extremely low tide, when the differential between low and high tide is very large.  The bore tide makes a twice daily sweep of the Turnagain Arm, and is one of the only places in the world that they occur frequently. Whether not they are of large amplitude is another story. Apparently the bore used to be much larger before the ’64 earthquake, but a geologic shift deepened the Turnagain Arm making the waves smaller in amplitude.

The two specks are people surfing the wave.

While it was pretty cool to see, this particular bore was not overly spectacular. Here is a picture of the bore from long ago.

Here are a couple of videos, the first from my droid, the 2nd shot and put together by Steve Lawson. Very good job by him.

At around 40 seconds you can see a bunch of bald eagles and gulls hunting for food churned up just behind the bore.

Fluid dynamics FTW!

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Flattop

Working 10 hour days, 4 days a week gives me an extra day off from what I am normally used to with a 5 day work week. I’ve been taking advantage by hiking lately, a trend I hope continues. Sunday, I ventured up the most climbed peak in Alaska, Flattop Mountain. The peak is viewable from the city of Anchorage and is very distinguished from those peaks around it by, well, it’s flat top. I started the day’s hike from the Upper O’Malley Trail-head, a little farther down in elevation and distance from the normal starting point for climbing the mountain. I began here to make the hike a little longer, which turned out to be both good and bad. It gave me a good view of Flattop from the backside and was more secluded from other hikers for a while, but by the end of the day my knees wished I had started at the normal place. Do they make robot legs yet? It’s a risky operation but, it would be worth it

To the north of Flattop. Gasline trail I believe.

This would have looked great added on to the next panorama, but apparently wasn't overlapped enough for the stitching program

I was not wearing the proper shoes for this.

Almost there

After some pretty steep and kinda dangerous climbing on rocks and/or snow I saw this…I’ll bet the surrounding hikers could actually see the light bulb above my head! After trying myself let me tell you it is the preferred method of getting down from the top. Much faster, easier, and a whole lot more fun. I was cold and soaking wet backside and lower, but it was worth it. If you look on the map you can see the deviated track, where I slid on my rear.

From left to right in the pano/video Turnagain Arm, Fire Island, Anchorage/Cook Inlet

Interesting patterns in the snow

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Valdez Fly-In

Saturday got me up awfully early for a day off, about 530am. The purpose was to make the 6 hour trek from Anchorage to Valdez for the annual Fly-In.  I made the trip with fellow former North Dakotan and Palmerite @Polar_Gal. Most of you probably know the name Valdez of “Exxon Valdez” fame. Looking on a map it seems like a relatively short trip from the Anchorage area. I thought so too, this apparently isn’t the case. A short distance across the map yes, but the road network in Alaska is sparse to say the least, so the trip took me north to the Palmer/Wasilla area, then on Highway 1 east to Glenallen where we dropped south on the Richardson Highway(hwy. 4) to Valdez.

As with most places in Alaska the drive was quite scenic. After heading northeast out of Palmer we stopped to see the Matanuska Glacier.

Somehow the camera on my droid got set to ‘solarize’ without me knowing it…

Once we turned south onto Richardson Highway, we paralleled the Alaska Pipeline for most of the trip into Valdez…

The next leg of the journey brought us through Thompson Pass in among the Chugach Mountains to a couple of very picturesque waterfalls.

Bridal Veil Falls

Horsetail Falls with me for scale

At this point of the trip I was already glad I had come. The view of the Chugach on the drive in was well worth a day trip. We arrived in Valdez around noon after a 6 hour drive(5 for Becki in Palmer). The event we came to see was the short take off and landing competition on Saturday. The event started at 1:30 AKDT, so we had planned on filling our time with a plane ride over Valdez. Much to our disappointment they were filled up for the day, and we would not be back the next day to try it then. Luckily they still had helicopter rides over the glacier, for a slightly higher price. It turned out this was the much better option.

Flying low over the glacier

A short video of the take off, rows of planes, then flightover the glacier, look at the blue water pooled on top of the ice.

One of the more colorful planes

Some of the best take offs/landings. Pretty unbelievable.

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