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  • Writer's pictureRoy Thomas

Barometer Mountain

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

Barometer in May
Barometer Mountain sets a dramatic backdrop for the City of Kodiak. Its ever-changing presentation reflects the current weather as well as the seasons. This was taken from Near Island.

When Crystal and I go for a training walk over the bridge we nearly always get a picture of Barometer Mountain from the Bridge, when we can see it. As well as being stunningly beautiful Barometer lives up to its moniker by revealing and hiding itself as the weather goes up and down. In Kodiak that weather is often down.

Barometer when the weather is "down".

Fortunately for us, the weather was perfect recently to make a trek up Barometer. In addition to perfect weather Kodiak is greening up nicely, living up to it's Emerald Isle" nickname.

Barometer Mountain from the Bridge.

Our Chilkoot Trail hike is just over one month away. Crystal and I both have some apprehension about day three of the hike when we will gain about 2600 feet in elevation over about three and a half miles. This day will include the infamous "Golden Staircase" that the gold seekers traversed on their way to the Yukon. Unlike those in pursuit of gold, who had to make as many as 20 trips over the pass to bring their ton of goods into Canada, we will only be traveling over the pass once.
The Chilkoot Trail elevation profile. Day three of the hike will be Sheep Camp to Happy Camp.

Given that Barometer provides a 2400 foot elevation workout over the distance of about one and two-thirds miles it makes a good trail to test your endurance. In addition to testing out our physical preparedness.

A screenshot from the Runkeeper app of the elevation profile for the round trip.

I also wanted to get in my first steep hike with my new Osprey Atmos 65. For this hike I loaded it with my dry weight gear and about ten pounds of surplus water that I could dump out should it prove to be too much. In total I started the trail with 38 pounds in the pack. Overall I was pleased with the performance and comfort of the pack. I do need to adjust to the longer narrower pack, given that my last backpack was a 50 liter this one offers a lot more volume and has some great features. One of it's best features is it's comfort. I was not fond of the top-heavy feeling I would get when the trail required crawling. This is certainly something I will have to adjust my weight distribution and practice with before I approach

the Golden Staircase.

The trail for Barometer begins right past the Kodiak Airport.

The trail begins at the little white sign on the right. Be careful crossing the highway.

The trail winds through some spruce and alder, connects into a power line road before arriving at the official marked trail head. The first quarter mile is steep and through a tunnel of typical Kodiak brush. Salmon berries, Pushki, Alder, and willow. After breaking out of the tunnel of brush the fauna spreads out above you looking like a typical alpine meadow. If you are not used to hiking at this latitude you will be amazed how quickly you enter into an alpine ecosystem and rise above the treeline. In Washington state you would be at 6-8000ft before you would reach the same conditions that you find at a 500-1000ft at 58 degrees north.

A little altitude takes you out of the brush cover and into the meadows fairly quickly.

Along the way between the stunning vistas and the pauses to catch your breath you can enjoy a full pallet of wildflowers.

Barometer is a steep hike, and there are times when you feel like you are right on the edge. For me, Barometer is as difficult psychologically as it is physically.

All that effort pays off when you arrive at the summit and soak in the awesome 360 degree view.

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