Just got back from a ten day trip to visit Alana (+Adelyse) and James up in Anchorage. Had what you might refer to in idle conversation as a "good time", but that phrase doesn't do any justice to the things I experienced. It was the first time I've ever seen mountains which was a little shocking at first, having a constant backdrop far in the distance. I imagine it was very much like the experience someone growing up on a farm might have if flung forcefully into Times Square.
It initially felt like I was in a movie set, like you could just reach out and touch the mountains and tip over a very detailed painting. That illusion was shattered pretty quickly when James and I hiked up to the top of Flattop Mountain. I'd never hiked at all. 'Hiking' wasn't even a verb that I could recall ever having used. James was extremely hospitable on the way up, stopping when my lower body threatened to shut down in response to the climb. He'd mentioned before we started that this was the kind of thing that he regularly ran up for exercise, cementing my belief that he was probably some sort of alien or magician.
All the burning and aching on the way up quickly went away - or at least temporarily subsided - when we reached the top. Partly because of the much colder winds at the summit numbed some of the pain, but mostly because of the amazing views of Anchorage and surrounding mountains, which I'm told are also climbable. By people with magical amulets or powers as the result of experiments gone awry, I'm sure.
The views were more than worth the climb. Thanks to my guides (both human and animal) on the way up for these photos, and many more that will be coming during the next few weeks.