Thursday, June 20, 2013

Herbert Glacier

We've gone for short walks on this trail, but I'd never finished it and Mr. X hadn't been out to the glacier for five or six years. On Saturday, June 8th, we decided to try it out once again.

The trail is flat and one that Trail Mix (the local trail crew) has improved. It is now mostly bikeable and considering we were some of  the only hikers, I'd say most people ride instead of walk.

The trail winds through hemlock forest with plenty of blueberries and devil's club. There are a few lakes with benches for resting on, but Mr. X wanted to run the trail as much as we could (less than half of it), so he didn't even pause when we saw a golden-eye on one of the small bodies of water.

We'd been told to expect scattered showers, but we soon discovered it was going to be a gloriously beautiful day. Sunshine and lollipops again.

After four miles we entered a sandy area where the silt from the glacier has been deposited. We were now in a large clearing where we could soak up the sun, spot mountain goats on the hills. The rushing water from the Herbert Glacier River, though, was scary. I wouldn't want to be holding onto kids here.

The beach was an attractive camping spot and I envyed the people setting up their sites. We'll have to go back. 

We could see a little bit of the glacier from this angle, but Mr. X said we could wind our way to the left and get in front of the face. Following tags and cairns, we scrambled up some rocks and past the raging water, crossed a small clear creek and sat down in a gravel pit for our lunch.

Mr. X and the scouts had crossed the water to get up near the glacier, but they had gone in November when water levels are lower. There was no way I was going to attempt the 5' leap across the 35 degree rushing water.

After spending an hour in the hot sun, being cooled by the breeze off the ice field, we made our way back down the trail.

At one point we stopped running because there was a porcupine in the middle of the path. Mr. X pointed out a large discolored spot on the porcupine's back and suggested that the animal had had a run-in recently.  Just then a black lab rounded the corner ahead of us and we called out to the owner. He told the dog to "leave it", but the dog didn't mind; he ran directly to the prickly animal. When the dog was less than two feet away, Mr. X and I shouted "NO!" and luckily he decided he wasn't ready to be a pin cushion and should leave it. We were embarrassed. We're not sure if the dog owner may have annoyed that we had involved ourselves. But really Mr. X didn't have his gerber tool and I'm certain the owner didn't have one hidden in his running shorts either.

We continued our running/walking through the forest and back to the car where we found cars parked along the highway. Herbert Glacier was popular Saturday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Eagle Glacier Trail

No pictures for this trail. It was kind of a lost cause.

Saturday G called us in the afternoon and asked what we were up to, then suggested a hike. It was record heat (83 degrees) and I thought that sounded like a good idea as long as it was in the shade.

G picked the Eagle Glacier Trail. None of us had been on it, and we had no idea what to expect. We had our work cut out for us since it was after 1:30 and we had at least 14 miles to go. At about mile 2.5, Mr. X stumbled and stubbed his toe. At the 3 mile mark he said he couldn't go any farther. G said her ankle was bothering her anyway. And the mosquitoes were having me for lunch, so we decided to call it a day.

On the way back to the car we ran across a group of gold panners. They had a few flakes after an hour's work. They also had a 10 week chocolate lab pup who was tuckered out by the heat and hike - he was asleep right in the middle of the bridge and didn't wake up even when we petted him.

G and B came over for popsicles and we showed bored them with the packrafts. Mr. X iced his foot which we're pretty sure is going to need at least three weeks of recovery.

Friday, June 14, 2013

May I suggest...

We've been learning about our Scandanavian roots. Well, not really. I'm not sure I can claim much. Mr. X says he knows he's Finnish blood is still there in the fall 'cause he suddenly has the urge to sew warm clothes... Half of these aren't even Scandanavian, but rather Baltic, but we've appreciated the following:

Max Manus: Man of War - About the Norwegien underground during WWII.

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys: the story of a girl pulled from her Lithuanian home by Soviet guards and sent to Siberia.

The Singing Revolution - Estonia's bloodless revolution in 1990. A documentary that will have you wishing for sheet music. Beautiful singing. Amazing story. Other countries were not as fortunate and, I think, may have paid the price so Estonia wouldn't have to. But the brave, yet civilized, cultured people's story will amaze you.  

And just for fun.... Wallander (UK TV series) - murder mysteries adapted from Swedish novelist Henning Mankell's novels. We've watched the Swedish versions too, but watch out! They have nudity.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Treadwell Ditch

'Cause we can't get enough of Douglas island...

The Treadwell Ditch trail is a historic trail. The Treadwell mine built the ditch in the late 1880s to collect water for hydroelectric power. They created a ditch to collect stream water off the hills of Douglas for 16 miles. And seeing the trail during spring melt, they were well rewarded for their efforts.

Saturday we met B and G downtown and stashed a car at Sandy beach, then drove up Fish Creek road to the trailhead near the Eaglecrest Ski Lodge.

The trail book assures us that this trail is best hiked on a "misty" Juneau day when you can't see anything since you'll be in the trees all day. It was 47 degrees and raining the entire time. We passed though bands of fog too. Pretty sure we followed the instructions perfectly.

The first part of the trail was well graveled and then a flat, slowly decending route (water does flow downhill) through the forest. At about the 4 mile mark G slipped during a stream crossing and sprained her ankle. She decided she wanted to keep going, so somehow she muscled on.

We saw some bear scat in this area.

We had a 0.5 mile reroute through muskeg where I spotted two deer - running in the opposite direction. If we weren't wet before, we were now. At one point we were about to cross a snow sheet, I recalled my swimming episode near John Muir cabin and walked around instead.

There are 39 bridges on this trail and we think only 3 of them were still standing. Which made a few of the stream crossings hair raising. Remember - it is spring melt right now.

Nielson Creek was steep and the stairs out of the canyon were gone. We scaled a mossy wall. We admired the work the miners did blowing the ditch through rock. It looked like a mine shaft in this area rather than a ditch.

At the Falls creek crossing, B and G crossed above raging white-water cascading waterfalls on a rotten log, then scaled a mossy rock wall. Mr. X took time to build a rock step in the middle of the torrent which he and I used to leap across the water.

At Eagle creek, Mr. X and G built a rock wall to a fallen log up which they shimmeyed and then scaled another mossy wall. B and I chose the step-rock method in (now) calf deep water and scrambled up a mossy drainage. The pictures don't do it justice. This was a new bridge. We are standing 20 - 30' above the water here.

Most of the rest of the crossings were annoyances.

We stopped for a break at the 10.5 mark/junction with the Dan Moller trail. And saw our first people on the trail. Mr. X engaged a gentleman skiier in a conversation about conditions in the Dan Moller bowl. Really he said it was small talk to allow me a private potty break.

The trail conditions for most of the rest of the trip were pretty good, though several more stream crossings had us groaning. My hands were hurting and my thumbs were numb. We ran across/were nearly run over by two mountain bikers.

Eventually we reached an end. We could not cross Paris creek, so we back-tracked and hiked down through a muskeg where we reached another trail with a bridge across the creek. Deciding we had hiked enough, we hiked down the steep Mt. Bradley/Jumbo Trail access and out on 5th street above Sandy Beach. G's ankle and Mr. X's knees were pretty much toast. I was feeling hypothermic and B was just plain beat. Successful day, but I'm not signing up for this trail again any time soon.