The high pressure continues to hold and the call of a good after-work hike make me finish up work by 4:15 and out the door by 4:30. On the trail by a little after 5. A leisurely stroll to the ridge overlooking the highway for some photos then off to the summit ridge where I sit around taking more photos and waiting for friends who started a little bit after me.
Everyone makes it to the ridge by 7:15 and then a thirty minute easy stroll to the summit for fantastic views on one of the best nights Southcentral Alaska has given us in a while.
Then retracing our steps down the trail yelling "Hey Bear"; back to the car by 9:30 and home a half hour later.
Nights like this are why we all love this place we call home.
And in keeping with my attempts to inform readers about the new Chugach Management Plan... here's what DNR has in store for Bird Valley:
Bird Valley Campground: CSP wants to build a campground in Bird Valley. While I believe that a campground in Bird Valley would be a good thing for Anchorage residents and an easy way for people to get out of town to camp I am not supportive of the proposal to build a new ORV trail that will connect the campground to the existing network of trails at Bird. Residents of Bird should note that the state wants to make this trail both ATV and snowmachine accessible. What this means is that motorized users will be able to park at the campground and ride their ATV back and forth from the campground year round. With this new trail residents can expect a steady stream of ATVs and snowmachines as well as a group of campers whose primary purpose will be to go motoring around in CSP.
New Trails: Two new trails are proposed; the South Fork Bird Creek Trail (which would get you into Archangel Lakes) and Penguin Creek Trail (which would get you to the base of Bird and Nest Peaks). It should be noted that there is currently a somewhat "decent" trail along Penguin Creek so this can hardly qualify as a new trail and is more like an improvement. The existing South Fork of Bird Creek "trail" is supposedly hell. I'm a little conflicted on this one. On the one hand it's nice to have more trails so people who aren't willing to bushwhack can get in and explore the Chugach a little more. On the other hand, the state wants the South Fork Trail to be open to horses - and if it's opened up to horses the valley will start to see a lot of hunters. This is currently a very wild place. If you can make it back to the Kinglets and Archangel lakes you'll be rewarded with a true wilderness feel that is a 30 minute drive from Anchorage and a vigorous but fairly straight forward hike from the Crow Pass trail head. Opening up this area to horses means we'll inevitably see an increase in users - and unfortunately pack and saddle users are historically not low impact. I think a simple hiking trail into this valley would be great - but I don't want to see a horse trail that will bring in the masses of high impact hunters who's sole purpose is to kill animals I like taking photos of.
Bird Valley Public Use Cabin: The management plan proposes a cabin in Bird Valley but doesn't give any insight into where they want to put it. I'm conflicted about public use cabins. The hard core traditionalist in me says No - I like the park the way it is and I don't want to see it developed any more than it currently is. On the other hand - I know people love cabins and it is a way to get people who normally wouldn't want to camp, out into the park . However, before CSP starts pushing for money for public use cabins they need to maintain existing high use areas. Before CSP starts building new cabins and trails they first need to do simple things like work on erosion control on Flattop and camper impacts at places like Rabbit Lake and the South Fork of Eagle River. Funneling users to yet another area of the park without any plan to maintain existing areas is poor planning.
Once again, you can read more about the Chugach State Park Management Plan here: http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/units/chugach/planning.htm. Send your comments to [email protected]. Comments must be received no later than 4:30pm, Friday, September 9, 2011.
Note that you can only comment on plans specifically mentioned in the CSP Draft Management Plan. What this entails is the campground and Public Use cabin. The comment period on trails has ended - although since cabin and campground development are connected to trails it makes no sense to not allow comments on related issues.
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