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Hiking DuPont Trail




If I was in a relationship with the DuPont Beach Trail, our Facebook status would be “It’s complicated!” I love DuPont Beach, but I find getting there to be very annoying. I have the additional problem of forgetting just how annoying the hike is to me. So every few years I come back to enjoy the view, complaining about the difficulty of the trail about 90% of the way.

The trailhead for this trail is at the end of Thane Road, about five miles south of downtown. I was there at 7:15am. I turned on my MapMyWalk app and started walking. About five minutes later I came to the first payoff of this trail – a very nice waterfall flowing at about a 50 degree angle and creating whirlpools around the bridge I was standing on. Up to this point, the trail could ALMOST be accessed by a wheelchair. The bridge has seen wear and tear lately and showed a few repairs. Part of the bridge was low enough that it got wet from the waterfall spray. After a few minutes admiring the falls I was on my way again. About ten minutes after that, the trail turned very uneven with roots and rocks. It is not the sort of trail you want to be on a wet day. The trail got worse and I was scrambling up and down rocks, roots and doing my best to avoid being hit be Devil’s Club.

It could have been worse. This area sees a lot of windfall trees, but either Trail Mix, our local trails organization, or the US Forest Service does a great job of clearing the path. I passed through a number of sawed off trunks. If it wasn’t for this help, I and most people would have found the trail impassable. My hike went on and on. I’d pause once in a while to take in ravens and squirrels in trees, admire the tree canopy, glimpses of Douglas Island through the tree, etc. I was also pausing because negotiating this sort of trail was much harder than the much longer Treadwell Ditch Trail hike I did on Friday. On the DuPont Beach Trail you are constantly making decisions about where to put your feet. Mistakes can put you in the mud — or onto pointy rocks or off a cliff in a worst case scenario. So there is there a lot of mental effort in addition to the physical effort. At least for me. While I know some people travel this trail without a lot of trouble, the Forest Service rates this hike as difficult.

It’s about 1.7 miles from the trailhead to the DuPont beach. On level ground, I could cover such a distance in about 40 minutes. With all the roots, rocks and other obstacles, it took me over an hour and a half to reach the beach. The beach had a crumbling dock, on top of which sat a bald eagle. Off shore was a sail boat, a fishing boat and several skifs. It was glorious and reminded me why I put forth this effort. I stood on the brightly lit beach for a bit, then found a spot and had a fiber bar and a few drinks of water. There wasn’t really a great place to rest in the shade that didn’t have a lot of flying insects so I turned around after about 10 minutes and carefully picked my way back to the trailhead. In all, it took me 2 hours, 55 minutes, and 45 seconds to have a round trip of 3.45 miles. For comparison, last week I walked home from work. I covered 3.18 miles in 1 hour, 2 minutes, and 52 seconds.

I had a good time overall. I really did enjoy getting to DuPont Beach. But for the next few years before memory of the trail difficulty fades, I’ll avoid it as somewhere the payoff doesn’t match the effort invested. Juneau has 120 trails. I have better options. At least that’s what I’ll tell myself before I desire again to see the eagle topped ruins of DuPont.


DuPont/Pt. Bishop Trail, US Forest Service

Douglas Public Library Helped Me Solve a Problem

I had a problem today. I had a bunch of recipe clippings and printouts I wanted to consolidate into a recipe binder. This problem had two sub problems:

– No table space to sort recipes.

– Couldn’t find my three-hole punch

Where could I find a workspace that came with basic office supplies? Right. My public library just two blocks from me. So I gathered all of my loose recipes into an envelope, grabbed my three-ring recipe binder and walked over to the Douglas Public Library. The staff was friendly and gave me what I needed. I was able to use their meeting room so that I could sort my recipes by type of dish using two tables. It was a luxury to have so much sorting space and it made the job more quickly and in better comfort than I could have managed at home.

After an hour and a half, I was able to discard duplicate recipes, stuff I didn’t really want to try, and left with a well organized recipe binder that is starting to inspire me to cook at home more.

Do you have a project that needs a little more room and/or organization? Consider your local library as a project space. Then check out what else they have to offer.


Juneau Public Libraries – Hours and Locations

Text – S.1444 – 114th Congress (2015-2016): A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce the rate of tax regarding the taxation of distilled spirits. | Congress.gov | Library of Congress

via Text – S.1444 – 114th Congress (2015-2016): A bill to amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to reduce the rate of tax regarding the taxation of distilled spirits. | Congress.gov | Library of Congress.

As Alaska has one of the highest rates of alcoholism, fetal alcohol syndrome and alcohol fueled domestic violence I am very disappointed to see Senator Sullivan co-sponsor this law to reduce taxes on distilled spirits.

As of this writing, the text of the bill was unavailable, so I don’t know how much Senator Sullivan wishes to reduce the tax by. But anything that makes it likely Alaskans will drink even more is probably a bad idea.

For further reading:

Economic Costs of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse in Alaska, 2012. McDowell Group for Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.

Alaska Substance Abuse Prevention Program, Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

Hiking Treadwell Ditch Trail




Today I hiked part of the Treadwell Ditch Trail on Douglas Island in Juneau Alaska. I accomplished this without getting into a car. I left my house, got to Crowhill Avenue and walked to the end of the paved road. I walked around the gate at the end of the road and after about ten minutes arrived at the Gastineau Meadows Trailhead. I took the switchbacks through mountain meadows to reach the Treadwell Ditch Trail. Then it was a matter of walking uphill for a couple of hours. I saw birds, skunk cabbage, bridges streams. Several times I felt gratitude to Trail Mix, our local trails organization that works with the feds, state and city to maintain our trails. They put in new bridges and reinforce sagging parts of the trail. It was a good reminder that there are some things (like maintain a great trail) we simply can’t do working alone.

I kept walking until just past the trailhead for the Dan Moller Cabin Trail, which splits off from the Treadwell Ditch Trail. It had been about 2.5 hours, so I turned around. Partly because it was a decent turnaround point, but mostly because I was meeting friends for a 1pm lunch and wanted to get home in time to shower and change.

On previous trips up this trail, I made it a loop by taking the Blueberry Hill exit off the trail. This trailhead is in a pricey neighborhood of Douglas and one walks down some steep streets down to Douglas Highway where one can either walk along the highway or wait for a bus. I’ve done both and I’ve always found the walk down on pavement to be hard on my feet. So I decided to simply go back the way I came. It had more roots and rocks, but ultimately more fun than the streets to highway to home path.

I got home around noon, about when I expected to. I’d been gone about five hours and hiked 9.6 miles according to my MapMyWalk app. Part of my wanted to wander around to get that last 0.4 miles to get 10 miles, but my feet wanted nothing to do with that plan. So I stayed home, changed showered and had a lovely lunch with friends at the Sandpiper, probably the best breakfast/lunch place in Juneau.

That’s how I spent my Saturday. How did you spend yours?


Treadwell Ditch Trail

Gastineau Meadows Trail (also includes information on Treadwell Ditch Trail)

Trail Mix

Dan Moller Trail

Day 9: Full Circle Ambivalance

My wife and I subscribe to an every other week box of fruit and vegetables from Full Circle, an outfit that sources from small farmers and delivers to consumers. They do deliveries in Washington State, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho and the San Francisco Bay Area.

My wife and I have lived in Alaska since 1998. When we lived in the lower 48 we were big fans of farmers markets. Not only did the produce tend to be fresher, we appreciated the chance to support small farmers directly. Both of us feel that keeping some diversity in our food chain is important and that corporations rarely treat individual farming families well.

But Juneau, while technically on the North American mainland, has an island like atmosphere cut off from the road system. And we have a fairly poor growing climate and limited land. We have some great gardeners, but farming on a commercial-scale doesn’t seem feasible. So when Full Circle – then Full Circle Farms – first started offering produce to Juneau, we jumped at the chance. There have been a few periods when we’ve dropped the subscription but we came back.

Generally the produce is of good quality. When it’s not Full Circle is great about issuing credits.  We generally use most of what comes in our box and it’s a greater variety of fruits and vegetables than we would buy for ourselves. As advertised, the food does come from small growers.

So why I am ambivalent? Mostly because of the distances our produce has to travel. Buying organic local produce to be lighter on the Earth doesn’t seem as Earth-friendly once you’re shipping it a thousand miles. Also, Full Circle has gone beyond farms in their state to source stuff from as far away as Mexico. I’m not against foreign produce per se. I do wonder how I can say “I’m supporting local farming families!” If I’m sourcing my produce from foreign countries. On the other hand, they do seem to all be small farmers.

If you subscribe to Full Circle, especially if you’re outside their driving radius, I’d like to hear from you in comments. Do you think subscribing to Full Circle is supporting small farming? Why or why not?


Full Circle

Full Circle food sources

With this post, I surpassed my previous Write. Every. Day. streak of eight days. So now I will stop routinely prefacing my blog posts with the day number except:

1) When I hit certain mileposts, say 30 days of writing every day.

2) When I fall off the wagon and need to restart.

Day 8: Book Review: Zero to Maker by David Lang

Today marks my tie with my previous longest streak in Write. Every. Day.

As a result of a purchase on Humble Bundle, I wound up reading the e-book:

Lang, David, and Rebecca Demarest. 2013. Zero to maker: learn (just enough) to make (just about) anything.

From the WorldCat summary:

“Are you possessed by the urge to invent, design, and make something that others enjoy, but don’t know how to plug into the Maker movement? In this book, you’ll follow author David Lang’s headfirst dive into the Maker world and how he grew to be a successful entrepreneur. You’ll discover how to navigate this new community, and find the best resources for learning the tools and skills you need to be a dynamic maker in your own right. Lang reveals how he became a pro maker after losing his job, and how the experience helped him start OpenROV–a DIY community and product line focused on open source undersea exploration. It all happened once he became an active member of the Maker culture. Ready to take the plunge into the next Industrial Revolution? This guide provides a clear and inspiring roadmap.”

I found this book to be mostly interesting and inspiring. Mr. Lang hooks you with the first chapter that begins in a cave surrounded by foul weather. A robot descends into deep water. The inventors are excited to see their product working. Then Lang tells us that just months prior, he was a Silicon Valley social media minion with no manual skills. He got laid off and was envious of people with back-up manual skills like carpentry. He resolves to “re-skill himself.” Most of the rest of the book is his story of finding people in the Maker movement, apprenticing with some of them, taking classes at Makerspaces and elsewhere. There are sections of the book that offer advice on finding maker groups, creating your own workshop and how to go about starting a business as a Maker. The sections that focus on how particular people got involved with Maker culture were the most interesting to me. The chapters later in the book about the mechanics of finding business funding and considerations about filing patents were less so. That probably says more about me than the author.

Mr. Lang was ultimately successful in reskilling himself and is a main partner in the OpenROV project. So his book a legitimate story of being a zero (manual skills wise) to a Maker. If you’re looking for a book to inspire you to pick up new skills, have fun and join a global movement, this book is for you.


Humble Bundle

OpenROV (Underwater Exploration Robots) project

Day 7 – The Pleasures of Walking Home

The sun continues to shine down on Juneau. I took the opportunity to walk home tonight. I strolled along the water front for most of the way, soaking in details that I miss when I drive. The ships in the channel, the state of the tide, the wildflowers beginning to bloom. There were people jogging and washing their cars. The sky was very blue, but I can tell that from a car. I could have stopped and taken pictures, but I was running the MapMyWalk app and I wanted to see if I could hit three miles an hour in walking. Turns out I could. But maybe I would have been better served by moving even slowly and trying to capture some of the beauty that is Southeast Alaska.


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