It started by Adam, a co-worker/friend/neighbor/Bible study partner of Matt's, our new "wilderness" friend (I officially dubbed him that title) invited us to go camping on top of O'Malley Peak just outside of Anchorage. Matt cautiously asked me...assuming I'd quickly reject the idea (now why would he think that??)...but I decided it'd be fun and add to our Alaskan experience. Plus, we'd be hiking up to where the snow was residing. It would be great views of the city at night and I was assured that now is the perfect time to out in the back country because the bears are quickly stowing themselves away for hibernation. Wonderful. Let's go.
Friday after work and a quick bite for dinner, we packed the car. Adam, Kelly, Matt, myself and Mocha. My pack consisted of every winter apparel item I owned, some hot chocolate, bear spray, sleeping bag, a thermarest and about 3 nalgens full of water. Nothing like the essentials.
|Gearing up to go!|
And then to my wonderful surprise a park ranger came strolling up past us on the the trail...
"Just wanted to warn you folks that there are a couple brown bears a little further up the trail. You guys be careful. Make some noise."
Yes, brown bears. As in grizzly bears.
And again a frequent thought in my head as of lately, "are you freaking kidding me!?!"
I thought they were going into hibernation. Not chilling on the trail we are hiking along.
My trip quickly went down from there. Or shall I say my mind games began spinning out of control. Every bush, rock and noise I heard of course I assumed it was the bears stalking us trying to figure out the best way to attack us by surprise. Funny enough, nobody else seemed even bothered by the announcement from our park ranger friend.
Fortunately, after a grueling hike up (only about 2 hours) we arrived at a fabulous place to set up camp. I have to say it was beautiful. The snow covered mountain tops were reflecting the moonlight on one side and the city lights were illuminating into the night sky on the other.
The wind was blowing really hard, so setting up the tents wasn't the easiest thing to do. We had to hunt and find boulders to anchor the tent down so it wouldn't fly away. After we got both tents set up, we had a party. We invited Adam and Kelly over to our domain. Adam brought milk and his nifty little stove and we enjoyed some delicious hot chocolate and music (via iphones) as we were bundled up in our cozy tent. After a couple hours of just relaxing and enjoying each others company we headed to bed (aka - our respective tents and sleeping bags).
|The view at night|
|Then when the morning finally came|
After about 2 total hours of sleep and 13 hours of darkness, the sun finally started rising about 8:30am and I woke Matt up and told him I couldn't take it anymore. Being the wonderful husband he is, he woke up with me and we decided to hike to the top of the next peak (with bear spray in hand) to enjoy the sunrise together. Our compadres were still fast asleep, so we journeyed up alone (with Mocha, of course). We hiked through the snow and found a big rock to enjoy the view.
|Did I mention is was cold? Below freezing. Brr.|
|Wouldn't be complete without a photo shoot to document:)|
|the whole gang|
Matt, Me, Kelly, Adam
|Hiking the ridge line back|
|The steep climb down|