Settled in with my aunt and uncle near Sutton, Alaska – We got in after 2am, and I managed to catch up on my sleep this morning, at least a little bit. It has been 12 years since my first (and only) trip to Alaska, and it is wonderful to be back. This picture is from my trip back in 2005, and it would be the view out the livingroom window right now, if Amulet Peak wasn’t shrouded in cloud. The elevation of this mountain is 8200 feet, but it is obvious looking at it that the elevation gain from the foot of the mountain to the summit would be significant – most of that elevation. Compare this to Harney Peak in the Black Hills, the highest summit east of the Rockies, which is elevation 7200 feet, with a relative elevation gain of only about 2000 feet when climbing it, since the whole Black Hills sits at probably an average of 3000 feet above sea level (my number, not sure what the actual average would be). Below the mountain can be seen, just barely, the Matanuska River, upstream of which is the Matanuska Glacier. The snow-capped peaks, mountaintops buried in cloud, the massive, soaring mountainsides, sweeping valleys, gleaming rivers, and glorious vistas – this is an amazing part of the country. And I’ve got nearly a month to enjoy it.