Alaska- Cooper Landing
We went horseback riding at Cooper Landing today with Alaska Horsemen Adventures. Cooper Landing is on the Kenai Peninsula. It’s a beautiful area of mountains and glacier fed lakes, well known for its wonderful fishing. Michelle, our guide, took us through the Chugach National Forest, where moose had taken chunks out of the trees. We saw a brown bear from afar (the only safe distance) and our film crew got shot at a couple of times!...by mistake.
I rode a Paint horse mix in her teens named Harley (go figure), who was super agile, making it easy to turn on the narrow trails. We rode down to the glacier fed Kenai Lake, so that our horses could get a drink. Looking around at the snow-capped mountains that rose up on the other side of the lake, I could see the jagged edges of rock, evidence that a glacier had carved this area. It is truly dramatic and beautiful.
We headed up into the forest to a high spot with a better view of the mountains. It’s wildflower season in Alaska. It’s also summer, which means that we have more time to enjoy them. It is light here almost 24 hours a day at this time of year. It actually hasn’t hindered my sleeping habits, since I am so tired at the end of the day anyway, but I can see how it would bother some people.
The Chugach National Forest is the second largest national forest in the United States. Like everything else in Alaska, it is big. We continued to climb up to a spot with views of the Russian Gap. No one is certain why it is called the Russian Gap, including the local historians with whom I spoke. Russians fur trappers did move through this area, as did gold prospectors. Joseph Cooper was one of the prospectors, for whom the area is named. Gold drew people here, and the promise of luster still causes people to prospect for gold in this area. Many people also venture here now for the salmon, which are abundant in the Cooper River.
We reached a high area facing a sheer rock wall and then miles of lush green forest--the Russian Gap. There were two lone homes in the distance, but then nothing else. This view demonstrates why a lot of people come to Cooper River and Alaska… to be at one with nature and take in Alaska’s vast beauty.
Darley Newman is the host of the Emmy Award-winning Public Television series Equitrekking®, which takes viewers on horseback riding vacations around the world. Equitrekking is broadcast on PBS stations and on international networks in over 30 countries.
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