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Photos: Hiking along Alaska's Turnagain Arm Trail

Girls and their dog enjoying a warm early summer day on the mudflats near Kincaid beach, with Redoubt Volcano visible behind them, May 23, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A hiker makes his way west along Kincaid beach, May 23, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Mt. Susitna, or Sleeping Lady, seen from the sandy dunes at Kincaid Park on May 23, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A hiker bushwacking through Kincaid park, May 23, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Runners and their dog enjoy the Turnagain Arm trail between Potter and McHugh Creek on May 16, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A hiker enjoys a warm spring day at Windy Corner along Turnagain Arm, May 16, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Dall Sheep along Turnagain Arm.
Jesse Millan / Flickr
A hiker at McHugh Creek passes a sign warning of a recent bear encounter on the Turnagain Arm trail, May 16, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A female Spruce Grouse along the Turnagain Arm trail on May 16, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
A Male Spruce Grouse courts a female along the Turnagain Arm trail on May 16, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Runners enjoy an early spring run along the Turnagain Arm trail, May 16, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
The Seward Highway Scenic Byway winds along picturesque Turnagain Arm on May 16, 2012.
Loren Holmes photo
Loren Holmes

OK, so it's been sunny and warm this week, with cranky brown bears and greening trees. But spring's fickle weather was worse than cruel to hikers and trail runners in Southcentral Alaska up until a few days ago.

But now, blue-sky days have been liquidating the last dregs of winter. Some low-elevation forest routes in Anchorage have morphed into mud holes rife with stagnant ponds and mounds of filthy, rotting snow. I finally got irritated with all the wallowing required by a simple outing beneath the trees. I wanted green sprouts -- and the feel of a firm trail that didn’t squish into cold goo beneath my soles. I wanted a taste of summer.

Read More: Windy Corner offers a taste of early summer and Dall sheep