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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Note: My photos are under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. If you don’t intend to make money through your re-use, do what you will with my photos as long as you give me credit.

If you want to do something money-making with them, make me a licensing offer.

Treadwell Historic Trail – August 30 2019

Today was more of a walk than I hike. I took the bus home from work and got off at Savikko Park on Douglas Island, about a half mile from my home. I didn’t go home first because I wanted to make sure I got some walking time in on the Treadwell Historic Trail.

The historic trail has several paths from Sandy Beach, which is next to Savikko Park. This time I picked the trails that kept near the beach and passed by the superintendent’s office:

Caption: Treadwell Mine office building.

The mine office building was recently spruced up by a local organization. They put a roof on it and removed the second floor — I think for safety reasons. The resulting look is bare but spacious:

Caption: Interior of Treadwell Mine office building.

Late summer is a nice time to be on the trail. Everything’s so green. Here are a few more photos from today’s walk:

Caption: Beautiful Forest Path

Caption: The road goes on and on on Douglas Island.

The part of the Treadwell Mine Historic Trail that I took ends at the Treadwell Cave-in, which took place in the 1920s and essentially ended the Treadwell mine and its surrounding town, which at the time was separate from Douglas. I took a few pictures of the cave in, giving different parts of the photos emphasis because one part was well lit and part was shaded:

Caption: Letting the light part of photo determine exposure leaves plaque and trees in shadow.

Caption: Letting the forest and plaque determine exposure leaves the water overexposed.

Theoretically, I could probably combine the two photos in Photoshop Elements and get a blended picture with the best of both exposures, but today I’m more interested in sharing what I took than fiddling with photos.

One surprise at the end of the trail is a new park bench. That’s new to me. What was more surprising is that it was dedicated to someone I knew:

Caption: Bench in memory of Dean Tirador and Dee Logenbaugh

Caption: View from bench in memory of Dean Tirador and Dee Logenbaugh

I don’t think I knew Dean, but I knew Dee. She was an amazing intellectual, book selling and kind human being. For many, many years she ran the Observatory bookstore in Juneau and I considered her one of the most knowledgeable people on early Alaska maps. She was also a member of my church and beloved by her community.

If her spirit rests here, I hope she enjoys the spot.

Note: My photos are under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. If you don’t intend to make money through your re-use, do what you will with my photos as long as you give me credit.

If you want to do something money-making with them, make me a licensing offer.

Hiking – Eaglecrest Ski Area, 7/21/2019

Hello! It’s been awhile. I’ve decided to come off hiatus because lately I’ve been doing more photography. I played around with creating a photo journal in Google Docs and it occurred to me that the photo journal entry felt like a blog entry. So here we are.

Note: My photos are under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) license. If you want to do something money-making with them, make me a licensing offer.

Now, for the hiking post.

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This was my second hike at Eaglecrest Ski Area in Juneau, Alaska. My first was only the week before with a visiting nephew. That time we hiked about two hours because we were expected elsewhere.

I started from the Eaglecrest parking lot about 3pm. It was about two hours up and an hour and a half down.

This time I didn’t get a picture of the parking lot or the two lower lodges, but it’s a nice area in the summertime. So my first picture is of the Ptarmigan lift station (see below).

Ptarmigan Lift

Not long after you get out of the parking lot and past the lower lodges and caretaker cabins, you come to the Ptarmigan lift.

Drone Alert

Drone quadcopters have been popular in Alaska for several years, but this is the first time one flew over me while hiking. It could be heard but appeared to maintain a respectable altitude. I assumed there was a camera on board. I do wonder what the operator saw when I had my phone camera pointed at the drone to take its picture. It probably wasn’t even focused on me. Humans in general assume they’re the center of attention.

Snow making machines

I’m not a skier. I haven’t visited a ski resort in winter for decades if ever. So I didn’t recognize these devices at first. I had to read the labels to positively identify them as snow making machines. I think it would be fun to see them in action.

Gateway to Treadwell Ditch Trail?

Shortly after passing by the two lower lodges, I came across this path. I was intent on hiking to the top of the ski trails so I didn’t explore this path. Eaglecrest Ski Area is one terminus of the Treadwell Ditch Trail. I’ve seen it once many years ago but my memory is fuzzy.

Perhaps I’ll explore this trail another time or two.

Climbing up the mountain

Caption: Looking down trail towards Mendenhall Valley

Caption: On Eaglecrest Ski Trail looking towards Juneau Airport Area.

Caption: Getting closer to the top through winding gravel trails

Caption: High enough for alpine ponds.

Caption: The road goes on and on. Upper Eaglecrest weather station in distance.

There are a lot of switchbacks and good views of forest on the Eaglecrest trails. I think I was on Ptarmingain trail. This is one of the situations where I could show you my route if we were there, but it is hard to describe without a map.

From the parking lot, I spent about two hours on wide gravel trails until I reached what I’m calling the rim of the Eaglecrest Bowl and a welcome surprise ….

Eagle’s Nest at Eaglecrest

Caption: Eagle’s Nest Lodge at Eaglecrest Ski Area

Caption: Listing of ski routes available from the Eagle’s Nest Lodge. Diamonds represent the hardest trails.

Caption: View of Eagle’s Nest ski lodge from Pitmann ridge.

I’ve lived in Juneau for 20 years. In part because I’m not a skier, I’ve only had a nodding acquaintance with the Eaglecrest Ski Resort. So I wasn’t prepared to find a whole building at the top of the trail, but it makes sense. An upper lodge/ski patrol station(?) to hang out or select new paths down is completely logical.

The building was mostly shut down. I was thrilled by two amenities apparently available in the off season – working restrooms (with composting toilets) and a picnic bench on the second level of the building, called Eagle’s Nest. The building is also near some alpine hiking trails, so it seems like it would make a good base to hike to, have a meal and then spend time exploring the upper trails before taking an hour and a half hike back down.

I really appreciate the Eaglecrest Ski Trail. It offers views and terrain similar to Mount Roberts parts of Mount Jumbo but wider trails and little hand over hand climbing. So far it seems the easiest non-tram route to alpine areas in Juneau. But there are dozens of trails I have not yet explored.

Views from Eagle’s Nest Trails

There are a few narrow, graveled trails visible from the Eagle’s Nest lodge. I took one that took me onto Pittman’s Ridge and that afforded me some good views.

Caption: Beautiful Vista on Douglas Island.

Caption: Alpine pond on Douglas Island near Eaglecrest Ski area.

Pittman’s Ridge and my first glance over Douglas Island to what lay beyond.

Caption: Looking down into Young Bay and towards “Kootznoowoo,” island meaning “Fortress of the Bear,” Kootznoowoo is the original Tlingit name. It is more commonly called Admiralty Island today but it was Kootznoowoo first.

Final Thoughts

This was a wonderful hike. My only regret is that I didn’t start hiking it 10 years ago (assuming the trails were in place then – I’m not sure). I can’t re-do the past, but I will keep an eye on the weather and attempt to get a few more long hikes at Eaglecrest this season.

This trail provides fantastic alpine views at a lower physical cost than Mt. Roberts (unless you take tram) or Mt. Jumbo. The trails are wide and graveled enough that you don’t need to climb with your hands. It is very much a workout. The trails are gravelled but they are also steep.

Based on this hike, I figure it is two hours to the Eagle’s nest lodge and an hour and a half from their to the parking lot. My plan for my next hike is to bring a more full lunch with me and take like a 20-30 minute break at the Eagle’s Next lodge table or steps, then do an hour’s exploring of Pittman’s ridge and surrounding area. I’ve got a few stops planned like checking out these areas I photographed from afar:

Caption: Crushed cabin? Abandoned platform? Only one way to get more information.

Treadwell Historic Trail, March 25, 2018

Today instead of hitting Sandy Beach, I walked along the mostly ice-free main stretch of the Treadwell Historic Trail from the end of St. Ann’s till the “howitzer pad.” A few places were very slidey and the side trails and the low part of the Historic trail are completely ice-bound. Here are some photos:

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Howitzer pad on Treadwell Historic Trail.
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End of plowed Treadwell Historic Trail.
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Treadwell cave-in site from above.
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Unplowed subtrails of the Treadwell Historic trail.

I’m glad I got out this way, but I’m probably going to stick with beach walking in Douglas till I see more melting. Especially with more snow in the forecast for the next few days.

Hiking DuPont Trail

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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.

References:

DuPont/Pt. Bishop Trail, US Forest Service

Hiking the Herbert Glacier Trail

I have lived in Juneau for 12 years, but until last Saturday had not hiked the Herbert Glacier trail.  I took care of that last Saturday and I’m glad I did. If you live in Juneau, you’ll want to hike this trail if you haven’t already.

This hike started with a long drive (for Juneau). I had to hop in my car and drive almost 30 miles to the trailhead. I would have been willing to take public transportation if it were available, but bus service stops around mile 15 of the Egan highway and I needed to reach mile 26.

So, after a half hour or so and a brief false start at the Windfall Lake trailhead immediately across the Herbert River, I found myself at the Herbert Glacier Trail trailhead:

Trailhead Map for Herbert Glacier Trail

Since I got my iPhone a few months ago, I’d gotten into the habit of posting my starting point and time to Facebook, along with a “turn around” photo. But the Herbert Glacier trail is beyond Juneau’s cell phone range. So it was time to start walking down the trail:

Starting the Five Hour Round Trip

At first I really marveled at all of the moss on the trees and the dense underbrush:

Mossy Tree

But after awhile, I got tired of it. Makes me sound shallow, but there you have it. About an hour fifteen into my walk I started wondering if it was going to be this “monotonous” all the way to the glacier. Then I broke into a clearing and saw this lake:

Forest Lake Reflections

The photo doesn’t really do it justice, but it really was worth the whole trip. I recommend stopping at the lake to anyone who’s interested in a two hour hike instead of a five hour one. But I was interested in a longer hike so I kept going.

After two hours of walking, I was rewarded with this view of Herbert Glacier:

Herbert Glacier 2

I wanted to get closer to the glacier, so I started walking on the sandy flats shown at the bottom of this picture. Here’s the closest I was able to get:

Constricted Herbert Glacier

It’s not shown in the picture above, but there was a deep swift river between me and the glacier, or I would have hiked closer. But it was enough. If there’s more good weather between now and the first snows, I’d happily go again. I find it as lovely as the top of Mount Jumbo, but for a lot less effort. It is an effort though, it was five hours round trip and that’s one of my longer hikes. I am sort of sore today. But I didn’t pull anything and I didn’t trip over rough spots in the trail. The trail is about the same as the first bit I showed you practically till the end. If you can walk for five hours, you can experience Herbert Glacier.

Or, you could take a helicopter:

A Coastal Helicopter with wood

I preferred hiking it, myself. Even knowing the helicopter folks probably landed on the glacier itself at some point.

If you liked what you see here, I posted a lot more photos of this hike on Flickr.