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Hiking in High Country

Exploring edibles and altitudes in the Last Frontier.

One of the best things about living in the Last Frontier is the access we Alaskans have to endless hiking opportunities. Whether you’re looking for a simple day hike to stretch your legs or strapping on a backpack for a multi-day adventure, you might find the hardest part of the trip is just deciding on where to go.

Fortunately, the choice was easy for me on one bright sunny day. It’s what passes for spring around these parts – and while most of the trails are still locked in ice and snow – I know Rainbow Trail, located on the Turnagain Arm, will be snow-free this time of year. The trail enjoys the benefits of wide-open southern exposure due to the inlet, and a lower altitude than many of the trails located near Anchorage. It’s always one of the first to clear off in the spring.

Knowing I had a designated driver and hiking partner, I decided to indulge in another of my favorite activities: edibles. I started with 50mg of Kreative Konfections Mango Heavenly Chews. Although I can be a bit of a lightweight when it comes to smoking or dabbing, over the years I’ve found that it takes something like 50mg for me to feel anything from an edible. I enjoy taking edibles before any hike due to the pain relief they provide me. The Heavenly’s have the added bonus of an equal dose of CBD and THC, which only helps my aging joints. But let’s be honest, I enjoy the other aspects of edibles as much as the pain relief I get.

We loaded up the vehicle with our daypacks and began the short drive south out of Anchorage. The tide was out and the mudflats were dry. A brisk breeze lifted ancient glacier sand and spun it around in loose dust devils. The edibles had just started to kick in as I watched the sand dance across the flats and disappear into the small waves that topped the low tidewater – something I wouldn’t have noticed if I was driving. And something I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed watching as much if I hadn’t consumed the edibles.

Arriving at one of the access points, we immediately felt the warmth of the sun when we got out of the vehicle. A fresh wind brought the scents of saltwater and earth that had just woken up from an extended slumber. As they say: Spring was in the air.

We hit the muddy trailhead and worked our way up to the trail proper in a short amount of time. It felt good to be stretching my legs without snowshoes or skis attached. It felt liberating to know that another glorious summer in Alaska was just around the corner. My mind drifted between the snippets of conversation my hiking partner and I were sharing, and marveling at the snow-capped mountains across the inlet.

I noticed things I would normally miss later in the year as my hikes become more intense and the focus shifts to keeping my footing on the steep mountain trails that I love to explore. I saw the first leaves of a skunk cabbage lifting themselves out of the rich black soil, the buds on the trees beginning to pop open, and the mountain grasses beginning to show their green again. I heard the sounds of fresh snowmelt trickling its way toward the nearby ocean, the songs of unseen birds, and the breeze playing with the dried leaves of last fall. It is an annual experience that always feels new each time I witness it, but this time was enhanced by the edibles. But that’s not quite accurate … the experience wasn’t enhanced, but rather my attention to it was heightened.

I find that to be true anytime I am out in the wilds and enjoying the benefits of Cannabis. There is something about that magical plant that allows me to see deeper into the world around us and gain a greater appreciation for it. It’s there that I go to find that connection to something bigger than myself. I think we all desire that connection in some way or another, and sometimes it is hard to find without a guide. Enter, Cannabis – the gentle hand that guides us down those hidden paths we couldn’t find without her.

This article was originally published in the May 2022 issue of Alaska Leaf.

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