It’s a happy, warm, sunny day in Seward, Alaska. August days like this are a special treat in this rainy Pacific coast town.
The Lost Lake Trail in Seward traverses seven miles over 1200 feet of elevation gain to its namesake alpine lake. Fourteen miles round trip is further than I’d like to go, so I’ll meander until it feels like time to turn back.
We started out at 11 am. In trailhead parking lots in the lower 48, we’d be too late. There are many cars here, but it’s far from full. In the land of the midnight sun, there’s no need to get up early. You’ve got all day…and into the night. The trail begins in a sub-artic rainforest dominated by Sitka spruce. The first part is lined with blueberries, a sure sign that it’s not a regular bear trail. If bruins were here, they’d have put a substantial dent in my snacking.
At a shallow creek crossing, I stop to watch wrens flitting about so quickly through the bushes that they’re tough to identify and impossible to photograph. It’s quiet except for the babble of the water moving through the rocks.
Broad leaves of devil’s club create wonderful abstractions in the dappled understory. There are ferns as tall as my shoulders. In the long summer daylight, everything grows monstrously.
After two miles of gently winding up the mountainside, the forest gives way to a jaw-dropping gorge. The roar of the Box Creek below rises up conveying the force that carved this canyon.
Across the divide, mountain goats are white specks on a cirque; a hanging glacier dominates the landscape to my right, and I can glimpse Resurrection Bay to my left. I stand in silence, taking it all in.
The trail parallels Box Canyon on my left for a few miles. The vista becomes more stunning with each step.
Gone are the blueberries, replaced by clusters of sweet red and gold raspberries.
Fields of monkshood, the stunning “queen of poisons,” decorate the mountainside on my right. I’ve never seen this flower before. I was enthralled by the colors, textures, sinewy stems, and hooded stamens.
Another new-to-me mountain flower, the smooth alpine gentians are in bloom.
Snow-melt waterfalls plummet down the ravine carving their way to the river. Every turn reveals a new geological wonder.
The Return Trip
As I hike back to the parking lot, I re-enter the pine-scented forest with its ferns, mushrooms, and devil’s club. From this direction, it’s a whole new perspective.
Dogs, cyclists (!!), trail runners, and berry-pickers share the path now. It’s late afternoon and the parking lot is full. It’s time for me to take off my hiking boots and head over to The Seward Brewing Company to write and revel in this experience.
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