We spent the night at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood and went out on the eighth day to hike in the wonderful mountains around the resort. We chose to do the more demanding North Face hike, which we made even more challenging by going off trail. It was incredible because on the top of the mountain we literally hiked through the clouds.
The North Face trail is far more challenging than the Winner Trail, though the latter can be extended to eight miles. The North face begins with a rather ominous sign:
The trail starts out with a wide gravel trail but then turns into a steep climb to the top of the mountain. The good news is that you can take the tram down for free from the top of the mountain if you get there. (You can also do as many do and simply ride the tram both ways). There was a black bear on the trail midway up the mountain, which is extremely steep at points. Indeed, since it was raining, our hiking sticks were a big help in not falling down the side of the mountain. We saw a sign saying “Closed for vegetation” and assumed the trail was closed. We then went around the mountain to the South Side were there were a ton of bear tracks and a snowy ascent. It was pretty exhausting.
We finally made it through the clouds to the Tram only to see people coming up the presumed closed trail. Given the sharp ascent on the South side, we felt a mix of pride and self-loathing. The tram was fun to take down the slope and there is a small restaurant at the top if you want to stop for lunch.
I highly recommend the North Face hike but be prepared for a very steep climb for a couple miles up this mountain. Here are some of the pictures: