Chugach State Park
Alaska, United States
Alaska’s most visited mountain is Flattop Mountain in Chugach State Park and it’s not hard to see why. The trailhead is within a short drive of Anchorage, where 40 percent of Alaskans live. Most of the trail is quite walkable and offers spectacular views and wildflowers and for those hearty souls (and what Alaskan isn’t) willing to make the final slightly technical scramble to the top you’ll have a nice sense of satisfaction to go with your stunning vista.
I completed this hike 4 years ago in 2015 when I sidled up next to a sourdough (what longtime Alaskans are called) at the Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon and asked what I should do with my limited time in Anchorage and she suggested this hike. Note to the kids at home: A moderate hike immediately after a marathon or 49k in this case isn’t so much recommended. Maybe do this sort of thing on steady legs.
Like last time once I got to the final scramble I thought to myself “this cannot possibly be the trail,” and when I reached the top there was a family with their two small children and a dog. Surely they didn’t climb up the same stupid crevasse that I did. I hung around for a few minutes thinking maybe I can stalk them to find out how they plan on going down, but they were too busy with a large quantity of selfies and their dog didn’t seem to be interested in me so I decided to go down the same way I came up.
Again a few minutes into it I’m looking down a ledge thinking not quite “I’m going to die” but more “I stand a good chance of breaking something.” So I scurry around the corner and BOOM I see people. A man pulling his girlfriend up by the arm since the ground seems to have given way underneath her. I say hello and right after I demonstrate that I learned nothing from her plight, as the ground slides out from underneath me and I slide down about 20 feet and come to an abrupt stop when my thigh runs into a rock. Hard.
They ask if I’m okay because someone shouted an unkind phrase making sexual innuendo about someone’s mother. Unable to resist a joke I shout back “OW! I fell on my keys.” Relieved, they continue on. I decide I want to take in the view from my particular perch while I pick the rocks out of my thigh, arm, hand, underwear. After that I continue down warily to the bottom to catch my flight. Maybe next time I’ll hike another trail in Chugach, you know, spread the love.