We did it. We survived Skyline.
I hiked Skyline back in May '06, and I must say, I remember that it was hard. But I don't remember it taking 2 1/2 hours to get up. And I certainly don't remember it taking 1 1/2 hours to get down. I think it was more like 45 minutes to get down. But, then again, I was three years younger and not 5 1/2 months pregnant back then either. At any rate, we made it, and it was worth the four hours it took us and the aching, throbbing legs that we are now experiencing. I'll be surprised if either of us are able to really walk tomorrow.
We started at the base of the mountain, at mile 61 on the Sterling Highway. We parked, finished packing the backpack, and set out.
This doesn't look that bad, does it? 1800 feet to the top!
The sign lies. It's at least 1 1/2 miles to the top. No way does it take anyone 1 1/2 hours to walk down one mile.
We huffed and puffed our way up the mountain, slowly, but surely. Going up is tiring, for sure, your heart pounding as fast as it does when you're running as fast as you can. A lot of the trail looked like this:
And this is an easy part.
But we were rewarded with views like this on the way up:
About 1/4 of the way up.
Another bit further up...you can start to see the second lake in the distance.
Taking a break for a photo.
We found some snacks:
And much further up, wild blueberries.
And finally, we reached the top:
When there's no one else around, you have to do the best you can!
Shannon at the summit, with the Sterling Highway headed west in the background.
Shannon's favorite picture of the day: an almost-25-week belly pic at the summit of Skyline, with the Kenai mountains in the background.
So after dawdling at the top for about ten minutes, resting, signing the guest book, and donning our gloves (it was chilly!) for the way back down, we headed back down the trail. Going up was hard on our quads and butts; going down was hard on our knees. We both were feeling pretty old by the time we reached the bottom, with our legs and knees aching.
But it was worth it. I mean, how many times in your life do you get the chance to do something like this? Not enough. And besides, when else would Shannon have gotten to see a ptarmigan in the wild?
A ptarmigan, the Alaska state bird, waiting for us behind the sign introducing the trail.
Overall, it was a great day, and a great hike. Shannon says that knowing what he knows now, he'll never hike it again. But he's glad he did it once. And he thinks I'm crazy for doing it twice.