Thursday, May 31, 2012

We took Friday off work and hiked to the John Muir Cabin for an overnight trip. It was our fifth time up there and the first time it wasn't blowing rain or snow. We could actually see the mountains around us! Oh, and it was a muggy 55 degrees.

Mr. X and I reached the cabin by 2 pm, after Mr. X spent 30 minutes using his pruning shears to clear the trail. We unpacked, ate lunch and then Mr. X took a nap while I scouted for the route to Peterson Lake.

When I returned to the cabin Mr. X was just getting up (having been woken by some day hikers). He grabbed the GPS and since it was late in the day and we were both tired, the goal was to "head in the direction of the Peterson Lake Cabin for a while".

Instead of choosing the circuituous route I had found, Mr. X charged through the woods, down the steep hillside, dropping 500 feet in a matter of minutes. The GPS lead us to an unnamed lake and said we should be on the other side so we carefully crossed on a 30 foot long beaver dam (I thought the beavers might have something to say about it, Mr. X said it looked old).

Not long after that we decided it was time to turn around, and I suggested we look for the X-country ski trail since the trees would be tagged, and we wouldn't run into any lakes. Mr. X agreed - the trail was showing on the GPS afterall.

Soon we discovered that the GPS is not all that accurate (i.e. trails are shifted) and so we zig-zagged a little to try and find the tagged trail. Finally, I found a blaze on a tree and was stepping forward to try and find the next one, when the snow gave out beneath me. Usually when this happens it just means I'm knee or thigh deep in snow, this time however, I was waist deep in ice water and mud. I calmly observed my situation until I felt icy adrenaline hit my bloodstream, then I panicked. Mr. X ran over and I finally figured out that I should lay forward onto the snow, Mr. X grabbed my hands and helped slide me out. We emptyed my boots and washed the mud off my legs with snow. Mr. X said something about frostbite to which I scoffed - "it's 55. Hypothermia: yes, frostbite: no. Let's get moving."

Mr. X headed for the nearest ridgeline in order to quickly regain the 500 feet we had lost. We found some tracks headed in the same direction and Mr. X asked if I thought they were bear. Definitely.

Pulling ourselves up the mountainside, we found our original tracks and headed for the cabin. We put on dry clothes and hung our wet things over the oil stove. But there was no heat! Mr. X chopped some wet wood with a maul, and we had a small fire in the wood stove to warm up the cabin.

Overnight the weather worsened and in the morning we hiked out in cold, pouring rain and fog. We were glad we had taken time on Friday to go exploring.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Shrine - Herbert Glacier - Eagle Beach

There is a couple in our ward who moved here for the rain. No kidding. When they talked to Mr. X they said, "We wanted to live some place dark and cold." Mr. X asked, "What? Are you vampires?"

 They spent the winter working like mad and don't have their own car so they'd not be out-the-road. Sunday after church we picked them up and we spent the evening driving around.

First we stopped at the shrine to look at seals and tidepools. W and S tried out the labrynth.

Next we spent about a half hour walking through the woods on the Herbert Glacier Trail. This trail is flat and well drained so it's perfect for bicycling or Sunday walks.

We ended the evening at Eagle beach admiring the view of the Chilkat mountains across the canal.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Salmon Creek Resevoir

Saturday we slithered out the door in order to hike to the Salmon Creek Resevoir. This is the same old trail that we do every summer, but there are new stairs! Now instead of scaling the side of a cliff on wobbly, ricketey staircases there's some brand new lumber and brackets for some sturdy hiking.

We had the trail all to ourselves on the way up, running into a lone porcupine and spotting eagles, ravens, gold finches, varied thrushes and robins. We spotted our first bear scat of the season. No bears were seen thankfully.

On the way down we greeted about a dozen hikers on their way up along with three black labs and a labradoodle.

 We were pretty much toast after the trip, which does not bode well for our hiking goals this summer.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Coghlan Island

Two years ago, I read a book, A Long Trek Home, and recommended it here. At the time I shared passages with Mr. X who decided he wanted an Alpaca raft. We saved and saved, reconsidered the idea, and saved some more.

Well, the day finally came. The boats arrived and we eagerly/nervously started our new adventure of packrafting (We kept mum about it for a few weeks to get all the kinks out of the system. Things look good so I've gotten the go ahead to post here.)

Our first time out, we went to Mendenhall Lake and paddled around ice bergs for 45 minutes in pouring rain.

Our next time out, the sun was shining and Mr. X decided to be a little more daring - so daring we didn't even take any pictures! We went to Auke Rec which is the beach near Point Louisa. We met a nice dog on the beach. Well, actually he was really scared of us while we were carrying the boats but once we set them down, he came and investigated.

Auke Rec is a nice sheltered cove in which we could easily practice paddling through small waves.
We launched into the cove and were elated to have porpoises diving next to us. We felt like the boats handled the water easily so we kept paddling.

Soon we crossed into traffic coming in and out of Statter Harbor, thankfully we were easily spotted by the boat captains. There were rafts of scoters floating near an island. We saw several whale spouts across the water.

Eventually, we reached the shores of Coghlan Island. Coglan Island had a nice sandy beach and is home to an FAA light to assist planes in landing at the Juneau airport. The island is also where several people we know have swam to when their boat capsized or they were thrown off. It is not remote or private; just quite lovely on a warm (50 degree) Juneau evening.

Because it was late in the day and we really hadn't planned to go so far, we just took a quick pit stop and got back in the boats.

In an stroke of dumb luck, the tide had turned and we had a leisurely paddle back to the Auke Rec. It was a good time.

Stay tuned for our third trip a.k.a. Mendenhall River Disaster - the Sinking of Banana Boat Two.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Striking pose

Saturday we headed over to the West Glacier trailhead. The weather's been nasty the last couple weeks, heavy rain, stiff winds, but we had to get out. Not much to tell except that we saw this eagle sitting on an ice berg. The poor guy was drenched, completely soaked. Eventually the winds picked back up and he took off to ride them.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

May I suggest: Radiolab

Another one of my radio favorites is public radio's Radio lab. The hosts explore questions about science which Mr. X and I enjoy listening to every Saturday while doing chores. This week's message was especially appropriate for Mother's Day.
Thanks Mom. And you're welcome...or I'm sorry. Either way hope you have a great day.