Hopelessly passionate husband, engineer, hacker, gamer, artist, and tea addict.

My Pokémon GO Adventure

I recently found myself in Anchorage, Alaska with an afternoon to kill before a friend of mine could leave work and meet me. I've never been to Anchorage before and wasn't really prepared for the visit. Having no idea what the city had to offer, I decided to hire a guide: Pokémon GO!


Since I currently live in Florida, Jynx are scarce. The first place I headed, of course, was where I could catch one. Niantic still hasn't enabled a useful tracker in the game yet (RIP 3 steps, never forget!), so this entailed heading out of my hotel on 5th Street and stumbling around blindly until I managed to catch one. I decided to head east first, where I eventually ran into a Pokéstop named "Pyro's Enemy":

Pyro's Enemy
Unsurprisingly, I did not find any fire-type Pokémon here.

This was a little memorial to Alaskan firefighters that have risked their lives over the years to keep people safe. I'm not sure why it's here, specifically, but it's a great little memorial. Makes me wonder if every city has one (they should - firefighters deserve all the recognition they can get).

I also bumped into a Pokéstop that looked completely different. I forgot to take a screenshot of how it looked in Pokémon GO, but the artwork is now of two cute little otters:

Otters on fence in Anchorage
Getting ideas for painting my fence back home...

I also, finally, caught my first Jynx around here! Unfortunately, it had awful IVs...

Anyway, heading east seemed to be taking me away from stops and attractions, so I headed back west. On my way back, I decided to stop for some lunch. I wound up having a delicious pizza at the Fat Ptarmigan, which I thought was a pretty amazing name for a restaurant.

Fat Ptarmigan
No additional advertising necessary. They had me at \"Fat\".

When I was done eating, I decided to continue heading west. I caught 2 more Jynx and a smattering of other Pokémon along the way before I found myself at a nice little children's park near the water. Off to the side of the park was an interesting looking tunnel that appeared to be a walking path. I took the gym in the park and then headed off to find the walking path.

Tunnel on the Tonky Knowles Coastal Trail
Ominous, or inviting? I decided inviting.

Heading through the tunnel and continuing along the path, I found myself with a beautiful view of where the southern Knik Arm meets the Cook Inlet!

Knik Arm panorama
Mud flats *can* be beautiful.

I didn't realize it at the time, but I'd found the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. It's an 11-mile trail that follows the coastline around the western part of Anchorage. It's incredibly beautiful and, although I didn't have the chance to hike the entire 11 miles of it, I loved every minute of it.

Autumn scene on the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail
The trail was especially beautiful this time of year.

In Pokémon GO, it turned out there were a fair number of stops and wild things to catch along the way. I took every gym I came across, though I lost most of them by the end of the day. I only met two other people playing during my walk, but I'm guessing a lot of people take to the trail while playing.

And, why wouldn't you? Here's an example of a gym I took along the way:

Dragonite at the Jupiter sign
These planets were on the trail at distances equivalent to reality.

And, if you turned around, here's the view that was behind it:

Westchester Lagoon panorama
The Westchester Lagoon is rather picturesque!

Ridiculous, right? I honestly couldn't believe my luck that I'd stumbled onto this trail after having started in the heart of downtown Anchorage.

This area had some Pokéstops nearby as well. One of them was a little waterway built for salmon so they could get under the train tracks that ran alongside the trail that I found really cute:

The Salmon Portal
The Salmon Portal, one of Aperture Science's latest inventions!

A few miles down the trail (which mostly followed alongside coastline that looked very similar to the mud flats panorama above), the path veered off to the left and went into the woods. Here, I stumbled across Earthquake Park - a park built where an entire neighborhood was lost after an extremely powerful earthquake in 1964. The park was beautiful in reality, but pretty boring in Pokémon...

Pokémon GO in Earthquake Park
Where am I..?

Furthermore, the trails in the park were not very well marked. I got lost a number of times due to missing or simply incorrect signs. There were little plaques describing pieces of park history along the way that were numbered. I'm not sure what happened to numbers 3-9, but I wound up missing them entirely somehow.

Misleading sign in Earthquake Park
I'm *very* confident the trail doesn't go that way, sign.

Once I'd managed to find my way back to the entrance again, I decided it was time to head back the way I came. It was already beginning to get dark and I had at least 4 miles to walk back to the hotel. On the way back, I took a few of the gyms that I'd lost since heading south earlier. I also caught a Growlithe, of all things, that had amazing IVs! Never expected to catch a good fire-type Pokémon in Alaska!

Mud flats in the afternoon
The lighting was gorgeous almost the entire way back!

When I got back to downtown Anchorage, I met my friends at Glacier Brewhouse. This happened to be right outside my hotel, which was awesome. If you ever head to Anchorage, I highly recommend having dinner here. The food and the beer were fantastic! I had the herb-crusted Alaskan halibut (which was easily the best halibut I have ever eaten) and a Hungarian Oak-aged Oktoberfest (which was easily the best Oktoberfest I've ever had).

The Glacier Brewhouse
The Glacier Brewhouse.

After eating, I wandered around downtown Anchorage a bit more to try for a better Jynx (I never did get one with good IVs). Then, I went back to my hotel to get some sleep.


The next day, I met with my friends again - this time, for hiking instead of drinking! The first place they took me to was the South Fork Eagle River Trail. Unfortunately, a large part of this was closed off, so we didn't get to hike too far along it. But, the parts of it we did hike along were awesome!

Eagle River Valley panorama
The Eagle River Valley.

The Eagle River is a small, winding river that flows through a valley between two different parts of the Chugach mountains and out into the Cook Inlet (north of where I was on the coastal trail the day before). It's a pretty easy hike and has some little boardwalk areas you can go out on to get a better view. While we were there, the first dustings of snow were hitting the top of the mountains.

Eagle Rivery Valley panorama
Winter is coming!

Once we'd hiked that trail, we packed up and headed south to the Chugach National Forest. On the way, we stopped off along the side of Alaska route 1 and watched some Beluga whales out in the Cook Inlet. Sadly, I wasn't able to get a picture of them.

Once at the Chugach National Forest, we made our way to the Winner Creek Trail. Due to time constraints, we only had time for the lower trail, which is only ~3 miles long. The trail isn't disappointing, though - far from it. Winner Creek Gorge is very picturesque and the forest itself is incredible. It being autumn only made the experience more special.

Winner Creek Trailhead
The trailhead of the Winner Creek Trail.

Winner Creek Boardwalk
A section of the Winner Creek Trail that included a boardwalk.

Winner Creek panorama
Small section of the Winner Creek Trail that I found enchanting.

Winner Creek Gorge
Looking down at the Winner Creek Gorge.

Toward the end of the trail is a hand tram that is required to get across to Crow Creek Mine. We didn't wind up taking it, but if you're not afraid of falling, it looks like fun (and a ton of work)!

Winner Creek Trail hand tram
Not a good time for basophobia and vertigo...

Interestingly, unlike at Eagle River, Pokémon actually spawned along Winner Creek (which also had cell service). A few of the plaques along the way were also Pokéstops! Nothing unusual to catch, though - just a ton of Pidgey, Caterpie, Weedle, and Spearow.

On the way back from the Chugach National Forest, we pulled off on the side of Alaska Route 1 again. This time, it was to fill up some jugs of water. Run-off from glaciers winds up over in the rock face, so the state built a little drain spout for the water. Anyone can simply drive up, put a container under the spout, and take off with some of the cleanest mineral water I've ever had.

AK-1 glacial runoff spout
I only wish I'd found time to make some oolong tea with this water...

Sadly, once I was back in Anchorage and we had dinner, it was time for me to head to the airport for my red-eye flight back home. All told, I took a total of 16 gyms, caught 250+ Pokémon, and walked over 22 miles. Given that the trail I took to Machu Picchu earlier this year was a total of 24 miles over 4 days, I figure I didn't do too badly.

On the way out, I managed to get a great picture of the clouds from my Alaskan Airlines flight:

Clouds over Anchorage
So fluffy!