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.

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