Peterson Lake Trail, July 13, 2019

Back in July 2019, I was blessed to have my sister-in-law’s family visit, including my two nephews. I’ve already posted about the Eaglecrest Ski Area trail I hiked with one nephew, today I want to share some photos of the Peterson Lake Trail in Juneau, Alaska that I hiked with my sister-in-law’s other son. We hiked pretty late in the afternoon but didn’t think that was a huge deal because sunset was 9:30pm.

I don’t have a picture of the trailhead, but it’s just an unmarked pullout at about 23 miles on Egan Highway. Here’s a picture of the boardwalk near the beginning of the trail:

Caption: Boardwalk near start of Peterson Lake Trail.

Caption: Meadow near start of Peterson Lake Trail.

I enjoy the Peterson Lake Trail. It’s mostly forest but there’s enough variety to keep you interested. Most of the trail is well maintained.

Caption: Part of Peterson Lake Trail. Not every stretch was this nice.

Many of the trees on the trail have mushrooms growing on them. I’m no expert on identifying mushrooms so I leave all of them alone. But I often take pictures because they’re often so striking.

Caption: Mushrooms grow on many trees in Juneau, especially in shaded areas.

There are plenty of edible plants – especially berries on the trails in summer. I ought to have taken some pictures of the blueberry bushes we ran across. Instead I took a picture of this pretty and poisonous flower:

Caption: Pretty Columbian monkshood. NOT an edible flower.

Because we didn’t set out on the trail till 5pm or so, I decided that for safety’s sake we’d turn around in two hours. That would have put us back at the trailhead at 9pm with a half hour of daylight to spare. But at the two hour mark we had not yet gotten to the lake. My nephew was leaving in a few days and I really wanted him to see the lake. So I set my timer for another ten minutes and hoped for the best.

I felt justified in doing this because I felt we were really close to the lake. It turned out we were about just about eight minutes later, the trail opened up to this sight:

Caption: Peterson Lake, July 2019 with lilypads

Having said the above, I’m not nearly always right when I make guesses like that. But this time my choice was ok. Well ok-ish. We did worry some folk, but more about that in a bit. In general, it is best to stick with your original plan when hiking.

Having reached the lake, I wondered about our chances of getting to the cabin in time to turn around and still be back at the trailhead by sunset. We quickly noticed smoke from the cabin’s chimney in the distance. My nephew and I quickly agreed there was no way we were reaching that with the time remaining to us and we turned around.

The hike was beautiful and good conversation was had. Like many places “out the road” in Juneau we didn’t have cell service while on the trail. We were reasonably hopeful that we’d have it when we got to the trailhead. The trailhead was about a mile or so from where we were staying at the Shrine of St. Therese. Our plan was to get to the trailhead and call for a pickup.

Remember my saying that sunset was 9:30pm? We got to the trailhead about 9:45pm. It was gloomy but not full dark and I didn’t feel unsafe. I did feel disappointed because we did not have cell service on the road. So we started walking. At this point we’d be walking for four hours. I am more than double my nephew’s age and had just about walking for the night. But there was nothing to do but put one foot in front of the other.

After walking what felt like 20 minutes both our phones started beeping with the multiple texts. It was my nephew’s parents wanting to know if we were ok. When we first tried to reply, we saw we’d lost cell service again. So we backtracked a little to a pullout, found cell service and texted back. They dispatched my lovely spouse to fetch us. I really enjoyed the hike but loved it when I saw her pull up with our car. We got back to our lodging and had a good night’s rest.

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