Monday, July 12, 2010

Mt. Marathon

Before heading out to do some hiking this afternoon we attended church in Seward at Resurrection Lutheran. Below is a picture of the sanctuary of the church. It struck me as looking quite simple and yet very beautiful.
  Please note the two poinsettia plants on the altar. It is just things like that here in Alaska which constantly confuse me and make me wonder what season we are in!  Just kidding, seeing those plants in July did make me chuckle. After the service a wonderful lunch was was served to everyone and I had a chance to speak with the pastor. I found out that Pastor Ron Nitz was a classmate of my brother Marcus at the seminary in St.Louis.  After lunch John, my brother Wayne and I drove to Mt. Marathon,  the trails of which are located in Seward. For many years Seward has held a run up that mountain on July 4th. It was last Sunday when 3,000 runners converged on the town for that run. We met a man at church who has done the run for over 20 years(said he won the race three times over the years). He warned us not to try to hike the first part of the run because it would require us climbing up shear cliffs. John attempted to hike up that slope but did turn around when he reached the first large rock to climb over. That is John in the lower left corner of the picture below.
We didn't even attempt to climb that mountain as it seemed just as interesting to walk in the river canyon below it. We soon discovered that the canyon was a glacial moraine with many small streams and waterfalls. We could see high above us the icefield, and flowing from that a narrow stream of water coming down the side of the mountain. It looked like white gravel at the bottom but instead it was ice. As we hiked closer to that area of ice we started finding the ground below getting less solid. Poking around on the gravel and mud with our walking sticks we discovered that we were walking on chunks of ice. The picture below should give you an idea of what I am referring to.
In that area were a couple of ice caves/tunnels from which more streams of water flowed.
 It was not until we had looked back at the second ice cave that we realized we had been walking above it and could have easily fallen through the roof of the cave. Thinking about that possibility was a bit scary as we did not know how deep that underground tunnel went! The whole area was interesting to explore, just to see the large amount of brush and stone that gets pulled down and piled up over the years by snow and ice. It was quite a delightful hike, topped only by  the gorgeous sunlight shinning down on us. So many townspeople commented to us how they too were enjoying the sunshine. The last picture is of my brother and I along the trail.

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