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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:


Howitzer pad on Treadwell Historic Trail.


End of plowed Treadwell Historic Trail.


Treadwell cave-in site from above.


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




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

Photo: Shadows in Grand Canyon

Shadow Play at Grand Canyon

Last weekend I was privileged to hike a small part of the Grand Canyon. I really enjoyed the play of sun and shadow throughout the canyon. If you click on the picture above you can see other photos I took while visiting Arizona.

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.

Photos with “Adventure”: Climbing Mt. Jumbo

One of the comments left on my recent survey was:

“more pictures from Juneau!! You do beautiful photos!! And more blogging of your adventures!”

That comment inspired this post. On Saturday, August 14, 2010 I climbed Mt. Jumbo, known to the USGS as Mount Bradley.  I reached the summit of 3,041 ft/927 meters in three hours. Making the top in three hours was one of my Living Lean goals and now that I’ve reached it, it’s worth it to me to write about.

I put the word “Adventure” in quotes because while reaching the top in three hours was a person best for me, it is nothing exceptional. People do it all the time. A friend of mine actually made it up in two hours the week before. So it’s adventurous for me, but perhaps not for you.

As my close friends would say, enough prefacing!

When I got up early Saturday morning, it was clear and Mt. Jumbo beckoned:

Mt Jumbo from my Condo.

I got into my hiking clothes and pulled on my backpack. No matter where I’m going, I take extra food, water and other supplies in case something happens to me:

Geared up for hiking

I walked about 20 minutes to reach the Mt. Jumbo Trailhead at 6:15am:


While hiking up the trail, I had some really good views, including this one of fog that had rolled into town while I was climbing.

Above the Channel Fog

My iPhone has a GPS app that works reasonably well. It told me that after one hour I had reached 900′ and that after two hours I had hit about 2500′ and passed the treeline. By three hours I had made the summit. I took a number of photos including this one showing downtown Juneau:

Downtown Juneau

There was photo worthy stuff on the mountain itself, including this picture of an icebound pond:

Packed August Snow on Mt Jumbo

More of my summit photos are available in my Mount Jumbo August 2010 set on Flickr.

After spending an hour on top of the mountain, I started down. I met about 15 people on the way down, most of whom I thought would make it to the summit. Going down was harder for me than going up because of the need to keep my footing. I slipped and pulled things several times and fell on the trail twice. Not too bad. Four hours and fifteen minutes I was back at the trailhead. I decided a small celebration was in order and went to the Douglas Cafe for a “victory lunch” of a Swiss Bacon Burger with a side of homemade clam chowder. I recommend both.

Victory Lunch

That’s my story and my hiking photos.

Groundtruthing on Douglas Island

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Gastineau Meadows trail and how I hoped it would provide an entry to a number of different trails on Douglas Island. One of the hikes I hoped to do was to start off on the Mt. Jumbo trail, hike up to the intersection with the Treadwell Ditch trail, take that north to the Gastineau Meadows trail and walk home from there.

Yesterday I decided it was some time for some groundtruthing. I walked from my condo to the Jumbo trail head. Then I headed up to the Treadwell Ditch trail. That was 40 mostly arduous minutes later, but it was fun. Then I turned north. About 15 minutes later, I discovered what appeared to be a washout or collapsed bridge. All I know is that I was on one side of a deep flowing creek with a tallish waterfall and thought I saw a trail on the other side through deep brush, but there was no obvious way to cross.

So I turned back and went back to the intersection. Then I took the Treadwell Ditch trail south because I heard that end deadended at the Glory Hole, the site of the Treadmill Mine collapse back in the early 1900s. I’d seen it from the Treadwell Historic trail and wanted to see it from the Ditch trail.  After about five minutes, the trail was blocked by Devil’s Club. If I was head to toe in Carhartts with leather gloves and a machete, I would have keep going.

Instead, I went back to the Jumbo/Treadwell intersection and spent some time exploring a large meadow before returning home. While I had not made either of my major objectives, I liked getting reacquainted with the Mt. Jumbo trail and realized it had more to offer than a summit opportunity or dehydration and misery. So I’ll be going back there again. Not in the next few days if the weather forecast holds up, but soon.

A Gastineau Meadow

A Gastineau Meadow

Originally uploaded by AlaskanLibrarian

Time for a change of pace, don’t you agree?

This picture is from a two hour walk I took today along Juneau’s newest official hiking trail. The trail is called Gastineau Meadows and is off Crowhill St in Douglas. You can see many more pictures from the trail from my Gastineau Meadows June 2009 set on Flickr.

The trailhead is a 35-40 minute walk from my house and a nice walk in its own right. The Gastineau Meadows trail is roughly 4,700 feet and intersects with Juneau’s Treadwell Ditch Trail while providing nice views of meadows and surrounding mountains. The Treadwell Ditch Trail in turn intersects with the trails for Mt. Jumbo and the Dan Moller Cabin. I’m very excited about this trail because it gives me access to most of the Douglas Island trail system without needing my car. Theoretically I can do this with the Mt. Jumbo trail, but the turnoff for the Treadwell Ditch trail isn’t obvious to me.

I’m thinking that the Gastineau Meadows trail is going to be a summer workhorse for me as well as good early training for the harder trails that only open up in late summer.

Have you hiked in Juneau or else in Southeast Alaska? What is your favorite day hike?

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