The Gold Mint Trail in Hatcher Pass is a beautiful hike with awe-inspiring landscapes. The only caveat is that you’ll want to start it earlier rather than later in the day.
The sixteen mile round trip hike is by no means difficult. When attempting the trail, I was surprised by how flat the entire trail was. The first five miles are suitable for biking. Except for a short 700 foot elevation and some easy boulder-ing in the last mile or so, this hike should be a walk in the park for anyone who is moderately active.
After hiking this trail last year, I knew that as soon as the snow melted I wanted to attempt this one again. Having recently picked up a drone from Yuneec, I knew that the glacial valley would serve as a awesome setting for a few test flights. The one spot I knew I had to get to offered a great view of the mountains with an accompanying reflection. The only problem was that I couldn’t remember how far into the trail this location was. I knew it was somewhere after the four mile marker and before the sixth. At around mile two, I made a decision. If I did not see what I was looking for by mile five, I would turn around and try again another day, as we hadn’t started hiking until it was 9 p.m.
At mile four, things were looking hopeful. The landscapes were looking familiar to what I remembered from last year, and the narrow trail was opening up into the valley. Then, almost suddenly, what little available light there was seemed to vanish. Being about a quarter mile from mile marker five, I was presented with a choice. I could continue on and gamble on the chance of seeing what I set out to see with less light, or I could choose to set up my drone there and fly. I chose the latter.
Three crashes, five broken propellers, a lost — and recovered — phone and a toe blister later, the sun was gone. I got the footage I wanted, but I could no longer fly due to the lack of light and broken pieces. I was mentally drained and physically exhausted. I packed all my camera gear and grudgingly made it back to the trailhead in the dark. As soon as I got to the car, I quickly passed out in the back seat.
One day, I’ll go back and finish this. Hopefully, I’ll be able to include the nearby Reed Lakes and Bomber Glacier and be able to do the whole thing in a loop.