I awoke Sunday to a perfectly clear sky becoming light in the east while the nearly-full moon hung around in the west, reluctant to leave such a beautiful stage that was sure to attract a crowd in a few hours. I had a powerful jones to wake Mike at 6:30 to make something spectacular of the day, but I refrained, since I had no particular thing in mind to do. When he finally got up, my pathetic suggestion was to make waffles.
As I was about to crack the first egg (after I’d dug out the waffle iron, the cookbook, and all the ingredients), Mike changed his mind. “I’m thinking maybe you shouldn’t make waffles,” he said. “I’m thinking we should go for a hike.”
That’s what I wanted to do at 6:30; I just didn’t know it. I put the eggs back in the fridge and grabbed the peanut butter and jelly.
Since it’s hunting season and the local trail system is jam-packed with people wearing camo and carrying loaded guns, he proposed zipping down to Hatcher Pass and checking out Reed Lakes, something he’s wanted to do for a long time. He nonchalantly added, “it would be a nice overnight, but then we’d have to pack camping gear, and it’s already kind of late.” He’s not one to get up early, unless there’s a plan to do so, which there wasn’t.
As I picked snap peas for lunch, I got to wondering what was so hard about packing a tent, two pads, and two sleeping bags. I’d pick a few more peas and make a couple extra sandwiches. We are the King and Queen of Doing Without; packing for one night takes a matter of minutes.
Forty-five minutes after he proposed the idea, we were out the door with food, camping gear, packs, and camera.
By 12:30, we were on the trail.
With lakes as a destination, it’s no surprise the trail follows a stream. Giant boulders, like those on the hillside and underwater here, make crossing the stream fun and relatively easy–at least for those with decent balance, no irrational fears involving rocks and water, and not carrying a heavy pack.
Lower Reed Lake. The lakes are fed by hanging glaciers. The heavy silt that makes some glacial rivers appear muddy sinks to the bottom of the still lakes and only the fine flour-like silt remains, giving the lakes their vivid teal color.
A series of waterfalls separates the upper and lower Reed Lakes.
Upper Reed Lake is a similar teal color.
Several parties were camped at the lower lake, but we were all alone at the upper lake.
Note the lighted peak in the background. Below it is a hanging glacier–or what remains of a glacier. It’s covered with rock, so you can’t see it. You’ll have to take my word for it.
The low part of the ridge to the left of the peak is a surprise side trip Mike had planned should time and energy allow. I’m ridiculously easy to surprise, unquestioning, content to wait and see, and trusting that it will be worth the effort.
An early start got us up high before the sun and other hikers. Our tent is at the far end of the lake.
The trip up to the ridge is a steep boulder scramble.
On the ridge we saw Bomber Glacier and the neighboring valley. Why is it called Bomber Glacier?
Because in 1957, a B-29 Bomber from Elmendorf Air Force Base crashed here, the nose 500 feet above the body, the tires spread out in a huge triangle, and the tail or some other piece well below the rest. The story can be read here; there were survivors. Scroll down to the section titled Heroism High in the Talkeetnas–these are the Talkeetna Mountains.
Some people walk right down to the wreckage, but we stayed on the ridge.
After all that time, the sun still hadn’t hit our tent down in the valley.
On the way back down, we met a pika bold enough to hold still for a photo–or twenty. Pikas are related to rabbits, not mice. We heard marmot whistles, too.
The only other wild mammal we saw was a vole.