I Love Hatcher Pass
I have always loved Hatcher Pass. Not a resigned, flippant, spur of the moment love, but a deep and meaningful love. Like a relationship, we have grown together. Every summer I return after having to maintain a long distance relationship. The mountains and the beauty are always the same – amazing and awesome.
Hatcher Pass Road is like a bridge into the Talkeetna Mountains. Once across the bridge, travelers are bombarded by a whole new world; a world full of history, beauty, and adventure.
Those who view Hatcher Pass from a distance may only see another valley and more mountains. Like many things in life, going a little further is worth the reward. Once you enter Hatcher an entire world of “choose your own adventures” awaits you.
My Favorite Place
My favorite place is at the end of Archangel Road. It dead ends in the aptly named Archangel Valley. Here the mountains are steep, rocky, and awe-inspiring. Boulders the size of motor homes speckle the steep valley floor. A creek lines the bottom of the valley, slowing in translucent green pools that look like emeralds until rushing to their next resting place. The road to Archangel Valley can be an adventure in itself. It is five miles and three of those are ruts and potholes. It is not suited for cars with low ground clearance, though the view at the end makes the jarring road worth the trip.
Hikers and mountain bikers can park at the end of the road and follow old mining roads and trails into any of the adjoining valleys. If hikers continue straight back Archangel Valley they will hike past a huge rock, roughly one hundred and twenty feet tall at its apex. It is called Monolith, and long ago it was cut in half by past glacial movement. This slab offers good rock climbing with both bolted and traditional routes.
Top of the Monolith
At the top of the Monolith another valley opens up. The creek has a dramatic waterfall in the middle of the valley, and it is definitely worth seeing. At the back of the valley there is a trail that leads up a steep incline strewn with scree and boulders. This trail should only be done by hikers in good shape with experience. It rises for about 800 feet before coming to the foot of the Lane Glacier, one of Alaska’s many glaciers. Here the mountains nearly surround you, grey granite reaching for the sky, white and blue fingers of snow and glaciers cling to the steep walls. It is a majestic place.
The above was written by my son, Josh Hejl, when he was away from Alaska attending the University of Nevada at Reno. This article was written about the time some were considering coal-bed methane drilling in Hatcher Pass. I cried when I read this article and thought of there being industrial activity in Hatcher Pass. I must concur with his observations and opinions of Archangel Valley and Hatcher Pass. It truly is a jewel.
Josh has returned back in Hatcher Pass, Alaska, and is a professional photographer. He contributes to a future blog about photography in Alaska. See his work at joshhejl.com