Home > Photojournal > 2005 > Winter/Spring > 20 August --- Mt. Verstovia Hike

Mt. Verstovia Hike

The weekend before school started I hiked up Mt. Verstovia with two of the new faculty members at Sheldon Jackson. Tom Pennington, in education, and Keith Cox, in Environmental Science had both been in town for a relatively short time and thought it would be nice to get up a hill.

On the way up, Tom, who had spent a long time living in Maine, pointed out a little overhung depression along the trail and said that in Maine that kind of hollow would have ice in it through much of the year. As I was looking at it, I noticed the distinctive green glow of goblin's gold moss. This was only the second time I had seen it, but the first where it had not been pointed out to me by someone else.

It was interesting to hike with people who had spent very little time in this area. Tom had me take a number of pictures so he could e-mail some to his wife back in Illinois. In many respects the weather was fairly mediocre, with periodic rain showers (although between showers there was some nice light). Despite the rain and mixed visibility, both Tom and Keith were very enthusiastic about the sights throughout the hike.

We reached picnic rock without any trouble, and after a brief discussion, decided to at least start up towards the Main Peak. Tom made sure to thank Keith and me for letting him tag along as the 'old man.' I figured he was doing pretty well, even without considering the story he told us about breaking his back, literally, a year or two ago while living 17 miles out of Kotzebue. He did make sure to give me a hard time for 'floating' up the sections where there were some large steps and walking with my hands in my pockets while it was pretty steep (I told him that I would not have done that if my hands were not so cold).

We got pretty close to the summit when Keith and Tom decided they had gone far enough. Tom was concerned about getting back down with the somewhat slippery conditions and Keith was not sure how Gil (his dog) would fair, as there was a section of bare rock to get over. They started back and I continued on up to the top and spent a few minutes looking around before heading back down to catch up with them.

On the way down, I saw a deer. It stood and stared at me even as I approached it. I never did see it run off. Due to the steepness of the terrain, I chose not to get too close of a look at it. On the shoulder of the main peak when we were back in some of the mountain hemlock we saw a pair of ptarmigan. I first saw them when they flew up from the trail. I made an attempt to carefully walk forward to see if I could get a better look. I was able to get fairly close to one, but my camera memory card was full, so I did not try to take a picture. This was the first time I saw a ptarmigan in summer plumage.