Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Trail in Mat-Su

One of the fun things that we enjoy while living in Mat-Su is hiking the local trails. With over 2,000, I feel like we are living in the Smithsonian of hiking trails! If we chose to hike a new trail each day, it would take us almost 6 years to start repeating them! Many places have pay-per-vehicle parking that today we couldn't afford, so to save money and going along with reccession thrift, we looked for a place that wouldn't cost us anything.

We decided to go to the Palmer Hay Flats. Anyone who commutes to Anchorage sees them every day, but how many go out to take a closer look? In almost 12 years of living here, and almost every time driving past them and thinking, “I really need to go out there,” we finally did!

We went on the Scoutridge Trail and Overlook at the Wasilla entry to the Hay Flats. The overlook is about 400 feet up the trail and is handicapped accessible. Of course between all of us with cameras, we all thought that someone else was getting a picture and no one did. There was an eagle who was perched in a tree and looking at us, and the kids were awed. (I couldn’t help but remember my first encounter with one at the Dutch Harbor dump, but I shut my mouth as the kids gave it adjectives like, “royal,” and “magnificent.” The kids are right; eagles are impressive.)

The trail was easy. If I had just had a baby, this is a trail that I would happily take a new baby on and carry in a baby carrier. We packed a light lunch, but unless you haven’t eaten, you don’t need to bring your lunch. (To the kids, it's a picnic! For what little trouble it is, do it! With kids over 8, they can help.) It’s just over a mile long and took us an hour only because we had to look at everything. Little Rose had to get a drink every three minutes, as did Mudd. She is 3 and he is 5; it’s their age. We expected it and just told them that it was good that they loved to drink water. The only problem was that we didn't see any outhouses. (Trying to teach a 3 year girl old to "use the bushes" is not easy, but once a 5 year old boy learns to use them, he could spray the whole trail. My husband says it's a male issue. I wish we'd told him to wait.)

The sun was warm and the air smelled wonderful. Alaska's flowers are starting to come out and attract the bees with their scent. I think I identified the flowers correctly—in the slide show, I am holding my hand next to a trailing bunch of flowers that I think are red currants. They make delicious wine or jelly in the late summer!

We walked up to an old gold panning area. We stepped over it with all of the older kids getting their feet wet. I held my husband’s hand to get across and (I wish I had taken pictures!) my husband stood with one leg on each side and picked up the smallest kids to hoist them over.

Cottonwood Creek’s bridge was out and while I went back with the small ones, my husband and the bigger kids walked down a muddy path to cross it. He said that it was worth it—they took the trail on the other side to look over the flats and see the arctic terns and eagles flying over the flats.

The Flats themselves are beautiful. At this time of the year they are still brown, but they are alive as new life pushes up through the grass and mud. We drove down a single lane hill to park and there are little puddles and ponds all over the place. My kids in crocs were not a great thing, but they were usually able to stay dry. Had it just rained, we’d have had some issues. We saw some falcons out, and I thought I saw a falconer in the distance. It’s hard to imagine that before the 1964 earthquake, that land had been rich farmland. Now it belongs to the arctic terns (who are gracing us with an appearance from their winter home on the other side of the world, Antarctica) and other birds that live there.

I have a slide show at the end of this article that you may like to see!


Ropi said...

Too bad nowadays I didn't have time for such an excursion unless we count our classtrip.

GDad said...

It sounds like a great deal of fun!

steve on the slow train said...

I finally looked up Mat-Su in Wikipedia. It's kind of like "Michiana" where I live--people use the terms so often locally that they forget the rest of the world has no idea what it means. But Mat-Su (the Matanuska-Susitna Valley for the rest of us) seems to be the breadbasket of the state--a little Midwest in the frozen North).

Rant finished. I'm glad you enjoyed the hike. And as someone once wrote to Dear Abby: "All men and boys urinate outdoors." Well, maybe not all the time.

And here's a groaner: Why do terns travel in groups? Because one good tern deserves another.

Ropi said...

Are you being fine? You haven't been writing for a long time.