I had grown a little tired of my solo hikes. I wanted to do something challenging and push my limits with other people around. I just feel more relaxed knowing there are others on the trail who can help if I have a problem. When I saw a “Heart and Lunger Hike” on the Anchorage Adventurers meetup website, I began planning my week around it.

P1410459 (Medium)“Harp Mt is about 5000 ft, the summit is 2600′ above the parking area. It is steep from the parking lot and less than 2 miles to the top. Prepare to walk and/or crawl to the top. If the wind is blowing it can be very strong up there.”

These “Heart and Lunger” hikes have been a tradition in Anchorage every Tuesday night since 2007. The extreme outdoor culture of Alaska ensures these grueling hikes would attract a dedicated following. I showed up for the hike and sure enough, 11 very cool Alaskans appeared at the bottom of the mountain. There was little small talk. It seemed that they were mostly there for the hike, not necessarily to make new friends. We started up the mountain.

I’m used to climbing peaks but these ultra-fit Alaskans left me in the dust in about 30 minutes. After the first 30 minutes, I only saw one man and his dog at certain points during the hike. The description of the hike was accurate. It went straight up the side of a beautiful mountain. Had the wind been blowing hard, I would have crawled to the summit. Conditions were calm and beautiful, so I just slowly picked my way up the steep, loose rock.

At the summit

At the summit

At the summit, I examined the rocky, steep route along a ridge the others had already started down and saw their colorful shirts far in the distance. The route looked pretty difficult so I decided to descend the same way I came up, solo again. I felt OK about it. This trip has stretched my comfort limits over and over again for what I’m willing to tackle solo. When I got to the parking lot at the bottom after the hike, I found a couple people had waited to make sure I made it down. They were caring people, but were not about to slow the pace of their heart and lunger hike to wait for me.

After the challenging backpacking and peak bagging trip and this heart and lunger hike, I was pretty impressed with the Alaskans and their meetups.

Lisa Hackett

About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, drive from Idaho to Alaska solo, live and work in a van in the wilderness and dodge encounters with wolves and bears. Seriously. More

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About the Author

Hi, I’m Lisa. I’m a tall, blonde superhero and I live in a van and on a sailboat with my superhero husband, Brian. I do it all. I rappel big waterfalls, scuba dive with sharks, dodge encounters with bears and wolves, and work remotely as a full time computer programmer.
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About the Van

Hi, I’m Vanifest. I’m a big, 4x4, off-the-grid van complete with solar panel for power. I'm a 2000 Dodge Ram Van and Lisa has had me since 2009. Read more about me here.


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