From greenbelt to mountain top

Intern pedals and climbs to push limits

Jul 28, 2017
Kat sitting on top of Windom Peak, a fourteener in southwestern Colorado.

Kat Henrichs

I am a committed bicycle commuter. I started commuting by bike at 15 when I got my first job doing data entry for an engineering standards company. I’ve been biking and then hiking from greenbelt to mountain top this summer.

Here in Anchorage, I don’t have a car. I ride my bike between 12 and 25 miles every day, depending on the route I take to and from the office. I consider the greenbelt trail system in Anchorage excellent, but the weather, the hills, and the urban moose population can make for some challenging and exciting rides!

I have enjoyed exploring the city this way. But coming face-to-face with a moose reminds me how wild Alaska really is. I’ve seen other wildlife on my rides, too, including a beaver and a great horned owl.

Forget the flying cars and get on a bike
Kat bikes and then hikes from greenbelt to mountain top. Here's her bike at the trail head.

Kat bikes and then hikes from greenbelt to mountain top. Photo by Kat Henrichs.

Writers and filmmakers have depicted the future as one where flying cars have replaced gravity-bound vehicles and asphalt roads. I think it is more likely that future cities will have no cars at all, or at least fewer of them.

Most people recognize that our dependence on cars creates a myriad of interlocking health and environmental problems. The modern American lifestyle may seem closely connected to personal vehicle ownership, but people in many places around the world rely on other forms of transportation.

I believe that adopting alternative transportation modes can resolve our most challenging social and environmental problems, especially climate change.

A view of Anchorage from the Wolverine Peak trail. Kat rode her bike and then hiked from the greenbelt to mountain top while in Alaska.

The view from the trail. Photo by Kat Henrichs.

Pedaling to the mountains

Since coming to Alaska, I have done a couple of bike-and-hike solo adventures to Kincaid and Far North Bicentennial Parks, but my biggest one yet took me to Wolverine Peak. I biked 10 miles to the Prospect Heights trailhead, summited the peak, and biked the 10 miles back home.

The uphill ride to the trailhead was the most difficult part. My legs felt like jelly by the time I got there! Luckily, the first part of the trail is relatively flat, so I had some time to recover before the ascent.

The views of the city, the ocean, and the forest on the way up Wolverine Peak were amazing. Once I got to the top, I could see down into the valleys on either side of the ridgeline. To the right, Williwaw Lakes, where I had backpacked the previous weekend; to the left, Long Lake.

From up there, the Chugach Mountains seem to go on forever.

Clouds and rain make it important to prepare for rain. Photo by Kat Henrichs.

Weathering Alaska

The weather held out on my way up, but it started raining as soon as I reached the summit. Even with all my warm clothes, the rain, wind, and exposure at the top made it uncomfortable to stay too long. I quickly ate lunch and started the return trek.

Above tree line offers great views but little protection from the elements. It rained all the way home. I am used to living in the desert, so I had to adapt to Alaska by preparing for rain on every trip.

Pushing limits, rain or shine. Photo by Kat Henrichs.

Pushing and surpassing limits

I am an avid outdoor athlete because I love the feeling of pushing myself harder, faster, farther, and higher. The act of climbing a mountain or reaching the top of a rock-climbing route is not about conquering the mountain or the rock, but about pushing and surpassing my limits.

The feeling of pitting my mind and body against unyielding landscapes and elements in order to achieve a goal is incomparable. These experiences help me build not only physical strength, but also mental endurance and fortitude. They remind me that we are all capable of more than we think we are. The only real limits are the ones we set for ourselves.

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