First Flattop Fail


There are many things I want to be that I know I won’t ever be.  There are things I will try to achieve and never achieve.  But if there is something I want to be and want to achieve, its to be a good hiker.  I read the magazines, buy gear, and try to train best I can to be a hiker; but today proved to me that I am not there yet.

On the southeast side of Anchorage is a mountain well known for it’s ease of climb — Flattop.  It’s said to be the most submitted mountain in North America, but whether or that’s true it is definitely the most submitted in Alaska.  It had been on my radar since wheels down a week ago, and today I planned a trip up.

It was on its way to becoming a beautiful day, topping out in the low 70s, sunny without a cloud away from the summits, and dry.  I slept in a bit, had a late big breakfast, and set out to the trailhead by 11am.  Back in Kansas, if you found a trailhead to a hiking trail, you would be lucky to find more than a couple of parking spots – and rarely another car there.  At Flattop, there was at least 100 parking spots, and I was lucky to grab one of the few remaining.  I didn’t do big research into the climb, but knew that I could easily cover a 5 mile out-and-back in a couple hours, even with the climb.  I threw some layered clothes in a laptop backpack and headed up.

This is what I learned today:

1) Research your trails before you head out on a hike.

2) If you are going to summit a mountain on a Sunday, don’t drink so much beer on a Saturday.

3) Pants are good, but not when its hot.

4) There is a reason why Day Packs are different than laptop bags.

5) You are not ready for Flattop.

I ended up only climbing to a lower peak, leaving the real the real Flattop for another day.  What I wasn’t ready for was altitude.  Anchorage for the most part is on the Pacific Ocean at the Cook Inlet.  My apartment is at 116ft above sea level (and I lived the last 11 years at about 1200ft above sea level).  The parking lot at the trailhead was already at 2187ft.  In about a quarter mile, I was already at 2374ft.  My legs were burning a half mile later at 2534ft.  The nice old Asian lady on the way down said I was “Almost There” at 2688ft.  I topped out where “there” must have been at 3035ft.  I hiked a mile and a half, and gained nearly a thousand feet.  Flattop summits at 3500ft, but it was not going to be easy that last 500.

So here is your reference point.  I climbed this.

I wanted to climb this.

But the day wasn’t a loss overall.

I saw my first moose.  Just chewing grass along the side of the road.

And I met up with Sean & Melissa Morse – Sean is cousins with my old drum corp beer swigging buddy Mary Glerum (beer swigging meaning – on a bus after winning DCEast).  Met them at McGinley’s an Irish pub – where I spent the last three nights.  So, I am finally meeting locals you could say … other than the furry kind.

Anyway, have fun everyone.


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