A summer solstice tradition in Anchorage, perhaps 100 Alaskans made the ceremonial hike up Flattop mountain on June 20, 2012.

And they were rewarded with a spectacular sunset on the year's longest day --19 hours and 22 minutes of daylight. "Take that, Mayan calendar," one hiker said. As the sun set at 11:42 p.m., there was a cry of sadness from atop the 3,510-foot mountain in recognition of the shorter days to come.

For many, the hike began in the low-hanging clouds. A parade of people marched up Alaska's most-climbed mountain on the edge of Anchorage, the trails still partially covered in snow. Then, as they got above the clouds, the slowly-sinking sun appeared.

Some hikers celebrated with sparklers. Some drank adult beverages. Others found a quiet corner on Flattop, catching their breath as the sun put on a show, reminding them why they made the hike. One hiker even spread the ashes of a friend.

In exactly six months, a much-smaller group will celebrate the end of shortening daylight.