Friday, September 13, 2013

Mt. Healy Overlook Hike

Mt. Healy Overlook is directly behind the Aramark Chalet two miles north of the Danli Park Road entrance. From the overlook you can see all of town or what is more commonly known as Glitter Gulch. Having heard about the overlook hike quite a bit, its one of the most popular. I've been wanting to do this hike for a while but haven't had the time. So on August 25th. having gotten off work at 2:00 I caught the hourly shuttle to the park.

The trail starts just inside the park entrance near the Visitors Center. Not having a car means I'm at the mercy of the shuttle services. The last regular bus shuttle runs until 6:30, after that Salmon Bake runs a shuttle route, and whats even nicer is if you call them they will swing by and pick you up at near by locations. I heard there was a little employee bar up the road on the way to the Overlook trail called The Spike.

My initial intention was to hike up the trail 1 1/2 hours and then turn around to catch the last regular bus. Fear of "being without bus" has become a learned reaction from Tamiko. Especially since she still claims now and then I left her at Wonder Lake 66 miles into the park. She got back to the lodge at about 10:30, a little after me that day. I keep telling her the proper way to wave done a bus is not with the Queen Elisabeth style wave.

At about the turn around time I thought, screw it, I've come this far and this is too nice to turn back now. I've never used the Salmon Bake bus before. So without further ado, I continued hiking up to the Mt. Healy Overlook.

I listed the time when some of the pictures were taken. You can see the shadow cast on the distant hills as the sun is setting. I think the day light duration was about 20 hour then.

This is the cotton which blooms out of the the top of the Fireweed just before fall.

Got off the bus at the The Wilderness Access Center. Mt. Healy is in the center and the Overlook is just to the right of the tree. The little branch near the top is pointing at it.

My destination.

The trail starts out as a kind of steep incline and just gets steeper and steeper. Closer to the top there's a lot of stepping up stones and roots. Starting out I was thinking, I wonder when this incline evens out a bit, NOT!


The trail is listed in the park publication, "The Alpenglow" as strenuous, 4-5 miles, 2 hours one way, 1,700 feet elevation to the Overlook, up to 25% grades.

 A little steeper. Doesn't look like a mountain trail to me. 

Taken at 4:15, notice there are no shadows from the hills on the right.

Now were talking, all that up hill was worth it. The view looking south, at the Nenana River and Highway 3. Nine miles down that road is the McKinley Village Lodge where I live and the Triple Lakes Trail from here to there I hope to do before I leave. One Tamiko did before I got here.

A little video of the view.

I have arrived at the Overlook, that peak is Mt. Healy. How far do you think it is? Being a flat lander I've found that judging visual distance totally escapes me. It's three miles away but you do have to pass along that ridge to the left to get to that highest peak in the distance. I hiked up the trail about another 1,000 feet to that center peak in the middle.

Looking at our larger sister property, The Chalet which just got sold to the Princess Cruise Line company. On the other side of Alaska highway 3 is the north end of Glitter Gulch. That's Prospectors Pizza with the blue roof.


In Glitter Gulch there are three main large lodges, The Grand on the hill, The Chalet bottom left, and The Princess at the bottom center along the Nanana River which flows north from the Alaska Range to the right. On the other side of the road are the restaurants, Prospectors Pizza, Sled Dog Liqueur Store, The Salmon Bake, Thai Food Truck, and the gifts shops.


The Chalet next to The Nenana River

Looking up the ridge at Mt. Healy

Looking back at The Overlook. You can almost make out the little sign just left of the two people.

The Train Station at the top, the Visitors Center in the middle, and the parks green bus shop facility in the lower right.

Looking at the Princess Lodge. That's the Salmon Bake to the left and the Sled Dog Liqueur Store with the blue roof.

This is a private lodge, I believe the only one. 

On the way back down.

 Oh look there's blue berries! Did I mention that this year as well as last years warm summer has been exceptional for blue berries? 

I usually add one third more time to the hike for taking pictures and eating blue berries.

Taken at 6:31. The shadows from the three hour sun set are beginning to show.

 Fireweed blooming out and beginning to turn.


 Taken at 6:48. The trail goes across the rocky outcrop and is steeper than it looks.

It's tougher on the knees going down than up. My greatest fear, injuring my knee and having a dead cell phone, which was the case for my phone. 

Rose Hips which are eatable. They taste a little like apples and are high in vitamin C.

 And then I heard a rustling in the bushes. Walking a little further I saw two red squirrels chasing each other around a tree trunk just off the ground. They would go around one way the stop and go around the other. Didn't think about it until later, a video would have been great.


From the trail head the it took me about 3 1/2 hours to do the hike which was listed as two hours one way. I don't understand how I finished it so early as I took tons more time taking pictures and enjoying the view.

These benches are at the one mile or 500 feet elevation point up the trail which starts steep and just gets steeper.

 After a little back tracking I found "The Spike", the employee bar near the bus facility. It was just like a little cozy neighborhood bar. Part of the building is an old freight car. These are pieces of 2 X 4's made for a giant size version of Jinga standing five feet tall.   

 When I saw this on the wall I thought of you Joni, who was editor of the Gainesville Sun for 16 years.

The Spike reminded me of the quaintest neighborhood bar with more character than you find in a novel. The bartender called The Bake bus from me at 9:30. Till then I sucked down four dollar beers, eat pizza and played pool with some of the younger folk who work at the other resorts and shops in Glitter Gultch.

What a great day. I so much enjoy taking pictures and their is so much beauty here to shoot. The adventure, seeing the squirrels at play and ending it all with beer, pizza and pool made for a fantastic day. I hope to hike all the way to the top of Mt. Healy before I leave, weather permitting. I just might have the chance after I move to the Chalet on the 16th. I leave here 10 days after that.

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