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Tony Knowles Coastal Trail : 1st Full Day in Anchorage (7/1)

My internal clock is still a bit off because I woke up at about 5:30am Alaska time. It wasn’t too bad – the sun was already up – and I was able to scope out what to wear for the weather according to what the early morning bicyclists were wearing as they passed ┬áby the window in the living room (also my guest room – there was an actual guest room for me but I was too tired last night to move).

I knew I wanted to see Earthquake park 1) Because I was really intrigued by the Earthquake in 1964 and 2) Because it was close enough to get to by public transportation. I made my way to the nearest Starbucks aroudn 9:00am to use their wifi but it turned out that it was in a grocery store with spotty internet and nowhere to sit so, after asking around, I found a Barnes and Noble a few blocks away that worked perfectly. (Also, side note, in my head I never thought Alaska would have Starbucks and Barnes and Noble but I’m also kind of glad that it does). I was able to order a coffee, write my blog post about my flights yesterday, and research the area around the park and the best ways to get there.

I ended up taking a cab out the the far end of Earthquake Park which consisted of a little parking lot and a paved trail going to the left and to the right. I decided to go left first.

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The majority of the trail looked like this, with high brush blocking the view of the water and lot of (what looked like) cotton gathered to either side of the path that had fallen from some of the trees.

Further down the trail to the left, the view opened up and I could see a good portion of the mountains to the left-hand side

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You can see the mountains faintly in the background. From left to right they are Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter, and Mt. McKinley.

Eventually I came across what seemed to be the last stretch of the trail to the left. I ended up about a mile from the end of the trail in that direction, directly underneath the lane of planes as they came in to the Anchorage Airport. It was loud and the views were the same and so I decided to turn back around. I was at about mile marker 4 of the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

About 15 minutes later I was back at the parking lot where I had been dropped off initially. I then took the trail to the right, towards earthquake park. At this point I was at about mile marker 3.5 of the 5 mile Tony Knowles Coastal Trail, heading towards the beginning – Mile marker 0.

This is the best I could do in getting the whole view of the trail. At the far left are the three mountains (Foraker, Hunter, McKinley). Then at the far right (which was the middle of my view) is Knik Arm (the space between land masses) and the Talkeetna Mountains in the distance. The far right side of my view can be seen in the picture below

This is the best I could do in getting the whole view of the trail. At the far left are the three mountains (Foraker, Hunter, McKinley). Then at the far right (which was the middle of my view) is Knik Arm (the space between land masses) and the Talkeetna Mountains in the distance. The far right side of my view can be seen in the picture below

 

The far right side of my view - Downtown Anchorage and the Chugach Mountains.

The far right side of my view – Downtown Anchorage and the Chugach Mountains.

As you can see in both of the above pictures, there are a ton of “mud flats” all along the trail, bordering the water. I think these are super cool because they’re made up of glacial silt, which is basically just a bunch of rock dust left behind after glaciers moved through the area. There are signs all over the place warning that these “mud flats” are extremely dangerous – apparently they’re like quicksand and the tide comes in really quickly. There were certain areas that had more of a dry sand consistency so I was able to get a little closer.

Close-up of glacial silt

Close-up of glacial silt

Earthquake Park did eventually live up to its name. There were a few stops along the way with information about the 1964 Earthquake and a little statue/memorial designed like the extra supports built into buildings to avoid any large amounts of damage for future earthquake events.

Earthquake Park - information about the 1964 Earthquake.

Earthquake Park – information about the 1964 Earthquake.

After walking for awhile (about 2 miles) I took a break by a bench and got the idea to try and take timed shots so I could get a few pictures of me in front of some of the scenery. I got pretty good at it, and a little carried away (As you can see below).

With the Foraker, Hunter, and McKinley Mountains behind me. I started my hike up on the trail on top of that cliff behind me.

With the Foraker, Hunter, and McKinley Mountains behind me. I started my hike up on the trail on top of that cliff behind me.

 

With the Knik Arm, Talkeetna Mountains, and mud flats behind me.

With the Knik Arm, Talkeetna Mountains, and mud flats behind me.

Mud flats behind me at around mile 1.5

Mud flats behind me at around mile 1.5

Westchester Lagoon behind me at Mile marker 0.5. An old man asked me if that was the "new remote version of a selfie" and it pretty much was!

Westchester Lagoon behind me at Mile marker 0.5. An old man asked me if that was the “new remote version of a selfie” and it pretty much was!

From (roughly) mile marker 1.5-0.0 I started seeing a few new sites including larger streams rushing towards the bay, beautiful bright green marshes, and Westchester Lagoon which might have been my absolute favorite part of the hike.

Stream running through the mud flats and into the bay.

Stream running through the mud flats and into the bay.

Marshes on the inland side of the mud flats at mile marker 1.5

Marshes on the inland side of the mud flats at mile marker 1.5

Across Westchester Lagoon

Across Westchester Lagoon

Along the way I did come across some oddities. 1) the style and size of some of the homes 2) the lack of wildlife except for a few ducks (though that might’ve been a good thing – I left my bear mace at home).

architecture 1architecture 2

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Wildlife – duck on Westchester Lagoon

After about three hours I finally reached mile marker 0.0 just past Westchester Lagoon at a park called Margaret Eagan Sullivan Park – which was basically just a kids’ playground by Westchester Lagoon.

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Made it to the end (technically the beginning) of Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

Made it to the end (technically the beginning) of Tony Knowles Coastal Trail.

I called a cab which dropped me by the local grocery store and then I walked the 10 minutes back to the house I’m staying in. My feet were tired, but all in all I was really glad I made the trip out to the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail and Earthquake Park. Tomorrow (7/2) some of the staff from Ageya are heading out to Anchorage to take a few days off and I’ll get to meet them before heading over to Homer Thursday (7/3).

 

-Hannah

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