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January 7, 2021 Karen Lewis

We Can All Use a Little Hope – Recalling What Gave Us Comfort in These Unprecedented Times

By Steve Cleary

Trails have increased in value through the pandemic, for both physical and mental health. And Hope has a lot to offer. Several times in recent months we have ventured to this quaint community at the end of the road in order to recharge and bask in the summer sun and the fall shade. Sometimes on a June weekend the town of Hope is bustling with activity. Then on a Fall Wednesday it may feel like you have the place to yourself.

My family and I had a wonderful trip up Palmer Creek road in June. There were lots of others on the trail that begins where the road ends and winds several paths up into the beautiful valleys above

But eventually we made our way to the last piece of open alpine where we set up our tent and waited out a quick storm before we emerged to more sunshine. We hiked up the snow to see the beautiful cirques and then enjoyed a quiet night on the tundra. It was a great get-away from the busy world and a place where we will return.

Camping near Palmer Creek Road near Hope, Alaska

Camping in the alpine above the Palmer Creek Road is a great way to explore the mountains and history near Hope.

Many things were canceled this past year of course. My son was looking forward to the KMTA Gravel Grinder race that he had heard about in 2019 but did not participate in. With a new gravel bike, he was ready this year. Alas, the universe had other plans but we set out to stage our own gravel grinder during a school break in October. Snow descended pretty far down the Palmer Creek road so we decided to bike out to Gull Rock – a place he had not been.

KMTA Mineshaft Grinder on the Palmer Creek Rd near Hope, Alaska

Participants in the 2019 Mineshaft Grinder make their way up Palmer Creek Rd.

It was cold when we started out around mid-day and the sun soon ducked behind Hope Point and the other mountains along the ridge. The trail was in good shape except for a few big trees here and there to step over. The sun on the inlet continued to amaze us as we looked over at the Chugach and a deep blue sky. We had a snack at Gull Rock and looked for belugas. The trip back was refreshing as the trail gets easier as you get closer to the trailhead.

The Gull Rock trail provides amazing views of Cook Inlet and the mountains of the Chugach.

The Gull Rock trail near Hope provides amazing views of Cook Inlet and the mountains of the Chugach.

Hope is such a fun destination and a great place to recharge our batteries, learn some history and appreciate the beauty that the area offers.

As this winter brings snow and cold, the bears have hibernated but we keep going. The Resurrection Pass trail leading from Hope to Cooper Landing has cozy cabins to ski, bike or hike to in the winter. These cabins offer a warm spot to get away from it all and focus on chopping wood and hauling water – something to take us away from our screens and worries.

What brings you comfort in the KMTA area during these times? Tell us in haiku form and enter the 2nd Annual KMTA Haiku Contest. Click here for more details.

-Steve Cleary is the Executive Director of Alaska Trail and is a 1993 graduate of St. John’s University in Minnesota. He then spent time as a volunteer teacher before being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study paper recycling and economics in Panama. He then worked for the Alaska Public Interest Research Group until becoming a stay-at-home dad to his son Liam in 2008. Steve and his family are avid bikers, hikers, and skiers. He has been with Alaska Trails since 2012 an is excited to promote and maintain Alaska’s world-renowned trails.


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