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The first trail I explored in Seward was a short, steep jaunt up Bear Mountain.  It is right next to the iconic Mt. Marathon, but much less traveled. I only saw one other hiker on a beautiful clear day in August. The unmarked trailhead behind a house was challenging to find, but clearly a trail once on it.  It was no surprise that this trail was steep.  Running and hiking verged on scrambling most of the way up.  I believe the gain was about 2,700’ in less than two miles.  Sections were nearly overgrown with grass and brush reaching chest height.  Visibility was only a few feet.  Would I stumble upon a napping bear?  Why do they call it Bear Mountain?  I had my spray in hand, and let out some whoops and ‘Good Mornings!’ as I worked my way up.  There were occasional clearings on the lower part of the trail revealing spectacular views of the entire Mt. Marathon racecourse.

 

The view of the true summit of Mt. Marathon at about 4,600’

 

Eventually, I cleared the trees and brush.  Also at about this time, the trail peters out, but this is where the views start to get expansive and awe-inspiring.  I keep working my way up to Bear, turning around occasionally in an attempt to memorize where to find the trail on the way down. 

 

Looking up to the summit of Bear Mountain. This is where I turned around

 

Making my way down proved to be an unplanned adventure even though I thought I was noting my return route to the trail, which did not follow the natural fall line.  I still unconsciously took the fall line down and realized I was nowhere near the trail. Unsurprisingly, there was no reliable phone service up there, and the trail did not appear on my apps. I proceeded to bushwhack across the face of the mountain and scramble down a cliff to locate the trail and get back on it.  It took some time, but I made it back to Seward.  

 

This shot looks down on the Mt. Marathon course from the side. with views of Seward below.  The race point (the turnaround) at 3,022’ is at the top of the sloped scree field.