One of the great things about Anchorage is that even though it’s population is approaching 400,000, it is still a small town in many aspects.  One of these is that the populace still stays very close to nature.  Heck, moose wandering in my yard for a snack is pretty common.  One thing that the city has to keep nature close by is over 17 miles of trails that cross the city and travel above or below streets and railways so you can ski, bike or jog as long as you desire.  Sings will show you where to go once you get close.

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The most famous of these trails is the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail (the mayor named it after himself!) which runs all along the perimeter of the city.  It starts at downtown and runs all the way to the airport.  It is my favorite place to run and after looking at some of these pictures, you’ll see why.  I have a nice little 5 mile run that I do from my house to the Lagoon, up to Earthquake Park and then back.  Most of Anchorage sits on a bluff so there is a pretty good slope going down to the trail and one on the way back, but other than that it is nice and flat.

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This first shot is of the Lagoon where salmon still run and they ice skate when it freezes over in the winter.

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This culvert leads under the Alaska Railroad tracks and others go under or over major roads so you can run without stopping or worry about your kids getting run over on the way to school.

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This is the scene just a half mile from my house.  You would think that you’re a hundred miles away in the wilderness.

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Remember in yesterday’s post where I talked about the scale Sun and how all the planets were spaced out at scale intervals?  Here I am passing by Jupiter.  The trail also has other educational signs to explain what you are seeing.  Really great if you bring your kids along on a stroll.

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There are a few places where rich folks managed to buy the land close to the Coastal Trail and erect a mansion.  Sorry to see these.  If I had the money I would buy one, live in it for 40 years, then tear it down and return it to the nature that it once was.

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See the view across the Knik Arm of Cook Inlet and notice the cliffs of Knik?  This is where they wanted to build a bridge in order to expand the city to the other side.  With a 23 foot tide and ice flows during the winter, it will be quite an engineering feat if they can ever get it done.

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Those cliffs you saw on the opposite side used to also be on the Anchorage side, until the Good Friday Earthquake of 1964 caused a large portion to collapse into the Knik Arm.  In this area I am running in, a subdivision collapsed killing four and destroying dozens of homes.  They left the area alone and named it Earthquake Park.  It has a neat interactive tour that they just put in to illustrate the damage as you walk through the forest.

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So a great day for a run.  Down in Seward they have an event called the Mountain Marathon.  Not what you think of when you say the world marathon.   Instead (based upon a bar bet about 100 years ago), racers climb from sea level to the top of a 3000 foot mountain and back.  The winning time this year was 41:17 by a Spaniard and the lady’s record was broken by a Swedish gal.  I guess Alaska is getting pretty famous whne people come from all over the world to race here.  I am not sure that I would be able to do that anymore.  I’ll just settle for 45 minutes through the woods!

Lastly, I am going to leave you with an image of Alaska superimposed over the Continental United States to show you how big it really is.  If you put one end of Alaska at Ft. Lauderdale, FL, the other end would be in Santa Barbara, CA!

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