Sunday, June 21, 2015

Solomon Gulch Trail, Valdez, Alaska

Hiker: Bear Grylls, survival expert 

Executive summary by darmansjah

Next time I find myself back in Alaska, I have my heart set on the Solomon Gulch Trail. It is a 2.5-hour hike taking in some of the most astonishing scenery that part of the world has to offer. One sets out from the Solomon Gulch Fish Hatchery on a steep ascent trail, weaving through the north-facing coastal spruce forest. The lush canopy is packed with a huge variety of wildlife. Watch out for the bears though! It is known to entail some fairly steep terrain with gravelly access roads (great for mountain biking), but it is without doubt the breathtaking views from the top, over the Port of Valdez, that truly make this worth it. To top it off, the hike takes you right up to the serene sights of Solomon Lake. Beat that for an all encompassing mini-adventure. —Bear Grylls 

Length: 3.8 miles

The Details: Tucked into a majestic fjord, Alaska’s hardworking port town of Valdez is home to just the type of adventure that appeals to a man like Bear Grylls. It’s the base for heli-skiing operations, climbing guides, and other outdoor adventures in the surrounding Chugach Mountains, which get pounded with some of the heaviest snowfall on the North American continent. But the Salomon Gulch Trail is a hike that any hiker can tick off. It packs a lot into a short walk and gives a glimpse into the man-versus-wild history of Alaska. It begins at a fish hatchery, ends at a dam, and runs along both a road for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the former route of a copper mining operation that used a five-mile-long aerial tramway to move ore to the port. From the lake however, the view encompasses the wild—a panorama taking in the Chugach’s glaciers and the steep peaks surrounding the fjord. All that makes the hike a shot of Valdez distilled.

When to Go: Summer, when long, warm days give you the opportunity to hike at your leisure

About Grylls: In his survivalist show Man vs. Wild, Bear Grylls doesn’t spend much time on trails—he’s usually too busy trying to forage for something to eat or put up a bushcraft shelter. The show might inject a bit more drama into a sojourn than the usual hiker experiences, even on an epic jaunt, but that’s what makes it compelling, and it has earned Grylls his own line of survival gear products, including his own Gerber Bear Grylls Ultimate Fixed Blade Knife. Grylls has always dreamed big in the outdoors, summiting Everest at 23 years old and later crossing the Arctic Ocean in an inflatable raft. The former British Special Air Service soldier is also the youngest Chief Scout of the British Scout Association, sharing his passion for the wild and expedition with 400,000 youths in the U.K.

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