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Sat 21-Jun-2014 Alaska, Travel | | Map

Juneau Hikes

Juneau Hikes

Given that it was a sunny day, we decided to hike. Originally we had planned to go over to Douglas Island (the island across the channel from Juneau) but instead decided to try the West Glacier trail which would take us above the Mendenhall Glacier. Unfortunately, because of David’s knee, we decided we would not be able to make the entire 3.5 miles (7 miles round trip) but planned to just walk to the 2 mile mark where you are above the glacier and then return. Turned out to be a great hike (though a little wet) and although we didn’t get to walk into the ice caves of the glacier, we did have some good views and enjoyed the day.

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. In Juneau the sun sets at 10 pm and rises at 4 am. When we wake up in the night, the sky never seems to get completely dark. So it seems that we will not experience any northern lights, Aurora Borealis.

On the way back we saw two young black bears climbing a tree and then saw another two (or perhaps the same two) running across the road in front of our campground. They made a mess of the tree with several branches up to 2 inches in diameter on the ground. Not sure what they were doing up there, maybe just having fun.

Since it wasn’t too late, we drove up the coast again to Amalga Harbor to take the walk we had promised ourselves from yesterday. The short hike (three-quarter mile) took us to the former summer home of Ernest Gruening, one of the first Senators when Alaska became a state, who had worked a good part of his life to achieve statehood. He was also an advocate for Native Alaskan rights and an environmental advocate. The home is a well-kept log cabin which has been donated by the family to the state as a historical site. The trail gave access to the beach and the nearby salt chuck.

The salt chuck was fascinating. It is a pond of water with a water fall flowing through the beach rock to the seawater. Generally the watered flows from the pond side to the sea, but at very high tide, the water fall will reverse and flow from the salt water side to the fresh. Since a creek flows into the pond, the water in the pond is generally fresh but with a “lens” of fresh water on the top with salt water at the bottom.

At the harbor we once again saw many large fish jumping. We enquired and were told that they were chum salmon, perhaps practicing for the eventual climb up the waterfall to the salt chuck where they are stocked by the forest service. There were plenty of eagles around, but none were fishing when we were there.

Back at the camp site, our resident beaver in the pond behind our site was busy eating the horsetail. I could actually hear him chewing on it from 60 feet away. The little ducks are also back, but tonight no eagles are trying to get them.