AD Main Menu

Photos: Summer solstice on Alaska's most-hiked mountain

Barbara Leeder and Brittany Perry play in the snow on Flattop mountain on Solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers descend snow on Flattop mountain during summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers navigate a snowy path up Flattop on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers make their way up Flattop during summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers make their way up Flattop during summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A hiker descends Flattop during summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers ascend Flattop during summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Sunset from atop Flattop mountain on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers enjoy a spectacular summer solstice sunset from atop Flattop mountain, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Bonnie Vatter, center, and other hikers photograph a spectacular summer solstice sunset from atop Flattop mountain, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers enjoy a spectacular summer solstice sunset from atop Flattop mountain, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Sleeping Lady (Mt. Susitna) is visible through the clouds during sunset on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers dance with sparklers atop Flattop mountain after sunset on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Erik Halfacre carried his adult beverage to the top of Flattop mountain in a platypus container, summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A hiker spreads the ashes of a friend who "was on a really terrible high school volleyball team with a commendable combined GPA" atop Flattop mountain on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers enjoy the view from atop Flattop mountain after sunset on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Tory enjoys an adult beverage atop Flattop mountain on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A paraglider descends into the clouds below Flattop mountain on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers play with sparklers atop Flattop mountain on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Tory, left, and Lyndsey stay warm atop Flattop mountain on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Hikers descend Flattop mountain on summer solstice, June 20, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

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.