Sunday morning after our usual breakfast we packed our belongings in the Ford Escape and began our return trip to Anchorage. We booked lodging for Sunday night at the Lake Hood Inn near the airport. Lake Hood Inn was the same place I slept on my first night after arriving in Anchorage on June 17, two weeks ago.
Since we had a lot of time to make our return trip, we planned to stop in the Kenai Wildlife Area again and do a few more hikes that we’d skipped on the way down the peninsula. On the outskirts of Homer on our way north we spotted a large scenic overlook area and paused for some photographs. There was a range of mountains to our south across Kachemak Bay and then two large snow-covered peaks to the west across Cook Inlet. The southern most peak to the west was Mt. Redoubt, a volcanic peak that erupted in 2010 causing the cancelation of some flights.
As I began driving north a huge peak appeared before us. The two peaks we’d seen at the overlook were to our left so this could only have been one mountain…Mt. McKinley. We had a brief opportunity to view McKinley, and it was in fact huge. Jane saw it as well, and we hoped to find a safe pullout to take photos, but it never happened and by the time we reached Anchorage clouds had once again rolled in and obscured any views to the north.
We pushed on to Soldotna and then east to the Kenai area. The first hike we’d chosen began in a campground so we drove a short distance and found the trailhead. The campground was very nice and appeared to be full for the Fourth of July weekend. We hiked a couple miles to an overlook where we could see a lake, and then we continued on a bit further to another high spot where we could view Skilak Lake. We retraced our steps and drove to the eastern end of the area, and then went back west for three miles to the West Kenai Canyon trailhead. We’d already done the east trail on our way to Soldotna on Thursday. On this trail we actually got quite close to a channel of the river, and it was just as aqua as it was from high above.
By now we were getting quite weary and anxious to get back to Anchorage, AK. We’d had a great time, but thoughts of work and family and Colorado began creeping into our new reality. We found the Lake Hood Inn and were surprised to discover our key was not in an envelope. I called the innkeeper, Bill, and he said to hang tight as the maid was currently getting our room ready. After a brief wait, the maid introduced us to our room which faced the lake. Jane and I sat on the deck listening to the aviator talk while float planes landed continuously on the lake. It was quite a scene.
For dinner we drove back to downtown Anchorage and went to the Snow Goose for a second time as Jane wanted to purchase Snow Goose pint glasses for Dan, Kirk and me. Since we had an early flight, we returned the rental car on Sunday night and then took a cab back to the Lake Hood Inn and arranged for a taxi pickup on Monday morning.
Everything went according to plan on Monday and we arrived back in Denver in time for fireworks displays.