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Summer solstice on Flattop

Eric Christopher Adams
Look farther out! There's downtown Anchorage on Cook Inlet as viewed from near the Glen Alps parking lot in Chugach State Park
Eric Adams photo
A map is posted just up the hill from Glen Alps parking lot to help keep you headed in the right direction up Flattop
Eric Adams photo
Flattop Peak in Anchorage is Alaska's most-climbed mountain, with panoramic views of Turnagain Arm
Eric Adams photo
The old Flattop Trail meets up with other Glen Alps trails on the lower portion of the mountain
Eric Adams photo
A view of the Chugach Mountains from just above the Glen Alps parking lot in Chugach State Park
Eric Adams photo

You made it. It was a long, uncomfortable plane ride. Who cares what time it is; look out the windows, the sun is still out and if the day's grown long you might catch a breathtaking palette of pinks, cobalts and yellows spilling over the Chugach Range.

It's the longest day of the year. Summer solstice. And you're looking to have an Alaskan adventure, the way the locals might celebrate. Believe me -- we celebrate it. But not on a river rafting trip in near-freezing water, not at Iditarod sled dog clinics and certainly not cooped up in a bus with dozens of other people.

If you find yourself in the Anchorage area today, do yourself a favor and ask someone how to get to the Glen Alps parking lot. Your best bet would be to take a cab if you don't have a rental car, or else ask someone to give you a ride. Alaskans are a pretty friendly tribe of mostly Good Samaritans. (Just don't be pushy, and be sure to offer a little gas cash -- in case you haven't noticed, we pay more for gasoline than you do, even though we live atop a veritable ocean of it.)

Each year, hundreds head up Flattop Peak, Alaska's most-climbed mountain, celebrating summertime, sun and warmth, good company and health. Climbing Flattop on summer solstice is a rite of passage for some, an annual tradition for others, and a great way for anyone new to Anchorage or Southcentral to get oriented to the mountains, the glaciers, the Great One (Mount McKinley to you Outsiders), and just maybe if you're lucky, to spot a few Dall sheep and moose grazing.

Chances are there will be a few musicians up there. The last time I did the solstice hike I found a drum circle, guitar players, children dancing with their parents and lots of very happy people, young and old. It's a family-friendly affair. If you're looking to catch a buzz, you're in luck: It's the best natural high in town.

The solstice climb is sponsored by Mountaineering Club of Alaska. Check out their website for more information. Bring a backpack, some water, an extra layer of warm clothing, some binoculars and maybe even a camera. That's about all – the view will provide the rest of the entertainment you're seeking.

Contact Eric Christopher Adams at eric(at)alaskadispatch.com