19 May 2018

Alaskan Summer

If you think that summer never lasts for long, spare a thought for your average Alaskan.  At around four weeks in length, summer in Alaska takes a long time to arrive and then is gone before you barely get used to it. However, with around twenty three hours of daylight, plant life here at the edge of the Arctic bursts in to life. There is a side to Alaska that does not necessarily always have to involve the white stuff.

A landscape of Fireweed in the shadow of Mount McGinnis. Although Alaska is home to lots of ice and snow, summer warms some of it up quite nicely. The state's second city, Anchorage, is protected by the Alaskan Range and the Chugach Mountains.  Add to that the warming currents of the Pacific Ocean with low humidity and the summer temperature can rise in to the 70s.

In the summer you can find flowers on Flattop mountain overlooking Anchorage. It is not quite the case that the whole state of Alaska goes dark in the winter and has never ending daylight in the brief summer. At the top, near Barrow, there is a two month winter period but the further south you go the long nights get shorter.  In the summer, Barrow gets daylight for 85 days.

South of the Arctic every place in Alaska does have a night during the summer – even if it is only an hour long. Anchorage is in the south of the State and even there you can read a newspaper outdoors at two in the morning. 

The Ptarmigan Lake trail on the Kenai Peninsula is buried under a vast carpet of flowers.

The Marathon Bowl on the same peninsula, normally so grey, bursts in to summer life. Viewing west (second picture) into the Marathon Bowl, a little pocket of soft and protected alpine meadow situated in a glacier carved bowl surrounded by ragged cliffs and broken stone.

The landscape is, in some ways, reminiscent of Scotland. Yet a surprise sight in either country, but here in the foothills of the incredible Mount Ascension is the appearance in the landscape of a local llama - as keen as anyone or anything to make the most of the sunshine.

Yet in the Scottish summer there are the unbearable swarms of midges with which to contend. Not to be beaten, Alaska has its fair share of insects keen to enjoy the short summer in the shape of, believe it or not, mosquitoes.  Yet let’s forget about them (and the snow!) and take in this taste of the magnificent  and imposing Alaskan wilderness in summer.