Mount Healy

Jul 20, 2015 | 1 comment

I love that it’s the middle of the season, and I still haven’t hiked all the trails on the east end of the park. Maybe that makes me a bad ranger, but I like to savor the place. But now after last weekend, I only have one trail yet to be hiked.

My second-to-last was Mount Healy, arguably the most strenuous of our east end hikes. It gains almost 2,000′ in elevation over 2 miles, with about a 25% grade most of the way up.

About halfway up Mt. Healy

It really isn’t tremendously challenging, but I do think it’s easier for me now than it would have been at the beginning of the season. In fact, I kept waiting for the trail to get steeper and more strenuous, but it never did!


I began hiking at 10am on Friday, a warm day with crystal clear air and layers of thin clouds playing in the sun. The day reminded me why I like solo hiking so much. I was able to lose myself in thought and the challenge of the climb the whole way, and stop to photograph flowers and catch my breath whenever I wanted.

Poisonous Monkshood

Bee on a Siberian Aster

Some of the stairs on the trail
I felt like I was going slow, but I made it to the top in exactly an hour and a half — 30 minutes shorter than the trail map estimates!  Woot! 

View from the top

There were a few people at the top, so I wandered past the end of the trail and continued up the ridge to find a sheltered place in the rocks to eat my snack. There, I decided that probably the best part about hiking up a mountain was the promise of a snack at the top. Views are nice, and so is the satisfaction if making it there. But if we’re going to be totally honest here, snacks are really what makes it.

Train crossing the trestle
Coming back down was much easier, and, infused with all that mountain energy, I ran part of the way down, enjoying the pull of gravity and the freedom and the glorious aloneness. I sang to myself. I took photos. I ate wild currants. I tried to act normal and like I wasn’t just running and singing to myself whenever I passed hikers going up. It was great.
I am so in love with Denali. 

1 Comment

  1. Newton

    I love this entry, Andrea! I completely understand some of the emotions. I feel the same way on many of my solo mountain biking trips. I happen to love PBJS (Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches) and on many rides, I pack that to have a snack at the top. One ride I have here in CA is to reach the peak of Black Mountain (which is only about 3000ft, but short enough for a lunchtime ride). There's some nice rock formations there, and it's always windy, with great views. I often nestle away and have the sandwich while reflecting on life and just being. All sorts of people pass by as time for me fades away.

    25% grades are killer. It sounds like you're in great shape!

    BTW, I have fallen in love with Denali as well. I really want to go back when my kids are older, there's so much to see and so many hikes that I want to tackle. The trip was zen-like and spiritual in a sense and humbling. That place really “spoke” to me in a way that is hard to describe and I felt connected in a way that's also hard to describe. Maybe it's the presence of “Denali” in the background, who knows. All I know is that I've never felt that way before, at other places.


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