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Hiking Windfall Lake Trail: Way Beyond the Red Line


Windfall Lake Trail, Juneau Alaska


Windfall Lake from Windfall Lake Cabin, May 30, 2015


Windfall Lake Cabin. End of the Windfall Lake Trail.

Today I hiked the Windfall Lake Trail at Mile 27 of Glacier Highway. My original plan was to:

  • Get up around 6 am.
  • Leave about 7 am.
  • Get to the trail about 7:30 and allow for two hours to the cabin and back. I was going to use my MapMyWalk app to track my distance.
  • Spend about a half hour at the cabin reading thru its log book – always entertaining reading.
  • Get home sometime around 2 pm to give my spouse the car

Aside from it actually taking two hours from the trailhead to the cabin and another two hours back, nothing about the day went to plan. But that was ok.

Let’s start at the beginning. My eyes snapped open at 3:30 am. I had gotten to bed around 10:30 pm, so I wasn’t actually refreshed. I tried going back to sleep but gave up around 4 am. I made coffee, got breakfast and put my hiking bag together. I was in the car before 5 am, headed to the trailhead.

The Windfall Lake Trail isn’t exactly well-marked and I had only hiked it once before. I wound up passing it by the first time. This actually worked out well because I wound up stopping near Eagle Beach and got to see mountains over the sea and some geese in the water. I took pictures with my phone and wished I had my regular camera because it would have gotten a better picture of the geese. I got back into the car and made it back to the trailhead. The trailhead is almost exactly at mile 27 and is located on the Juneau side of the bridge over the Herbert River. It starts out as a wide dirt road, then becomes an actual trail.

When I got out of my car, I tried to set MapMyWalk. It couldn’t get a lock on GPS or on the data network. It’s indicators just spun sadly. So I turned off my location service and set a stop watch. While it would have been nice to know the exact mileage, not having MapMyWalk worked out well because I could stop and take pictures without worrying about how it would affect my pace.

Not having GPS or phone service did bring to mind Commander Adama’s line from the 2003 Battlestar Galactica miniseries:

We’ve jumped way beyond the Red Line into uncharted space.

21st Century problems.

The trail was beautiful and easy, especially compared with last week’s trip on the DuPont trail. The three miles to the cabin were relatively easy. I stopped frequently to take photos. I saw a few more geese and at least one eagle. I was very impressed with how tall the evergreen trees were and kept looking up at the forest canopy.

There was a lot of board walk on the trail. This is great on dry days, but I think would be a lot harder on wet days. There were fallen trees on the trail, but fortunately our local trails group had sawed out the chunks that would have been on the trail itself. There wasn’t much in the way of wildflowers aside from white Dogwoods. Can’t wait to see how colorful the forests and meadows will be in late June/July.

I reached the lake and cabin (2nd and 3rd photos above) about 7:45 am. I looked around a bit, took some photos. I wasn’t sure whether the cabin had been rented the previous night. I looked in one of the windows and saw large glasses on the table. Rented. They had the place till 9 or 9:30. So I started backing away. Not fast enough to keep their dog from barking. I continued leaving quietly and no one came out. I hope they were able to get back to sleep.

The way back was just as pretty as the way in, just with more sun and more mosquitoes. It was morning twilight when I started and now the sun was well above the horizon. I seldom wish for sunglasses in Juneau, but I did today.

I was back at the trailhead just before 10 am. This worked out well because it meant I was able to do some grocery shopping and meet my spouse and a friend for lunch.

So – a day where little went according to plan, but it was all good. Now I think I need a nap. But I’ll definitely be back this summer, unlike DuPont.


Battlestar Galactica (2003) Quotes, IMDB

Windfall Lake Trail, US Forest Service

DuPont (Pt. Bishop) Trail, US Forest Service

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