Return to Juneau 27-7-2011
I ate my breakfast on the beach with the usual accompaniment of about six humpbacks feeding on the krill and small fish. I reluctantly packed up camp intending to take a walk along Bartlett's cove to look for Black bears. Luckily I asked at the Lodge when the bus for the ferry was leaving and found that it was an hour earlier than I had been planning for. Took the free green bus the ten miles to the port at Gustavus along with about 30 other campers and guests of the Lodge. The the Le Conte was docked already and we were allowed on straight away which was good as it had started raining and they have not yet built a shelter for passengers. Once on board, I got a seat in the viewing lounge and then went in search of lunch! Halibut and chips went down well then I went back to my seat and promptly fell asleep only waking at Juneau four hours later! By now it was raining steadily. I was traveling with a Spanish guy called Jose who had just spent 14 days kayaking alone in the Glacier bay National park and we decided that paying $40 for a taxi into town was exorbitant, so we walked the mile and half to the nearest bus stop and paid a dollar fifty for the same journey. Then the track from the bus stop up to the hostel, still in the rain. My poncho came in handy keeping me and my pack nice and dry!
We met up with Roberto, Raul and Eva, who had flown back to Juneau from Gustavus, and headed downtown for a pizza and beer. We got back to the hostel just before the 11pm curfew which is strictly enforced and would have meant spending the night outside!
It had stopped raining in the morning and there were various plans I had considered for the day in Juneau, walk to the top of Mt Roberts, Mt Juneau or walk up to the Mendenhall glacier. Meeting up with Raul, Eva and Roberto we decided to head for the glacier as it was still very overcast if not actually raining! We started off by heading to the Heritage Cafe for a breakfast of coffee and muffins, I got more cash and two 8 Gb cards for the camera before we got the $1.5 single trip ticket to the nearest bus stop. We walked in about 2 miles to the beginning of the west glacier trail, preceding this to the heavily touristic eastern trails. Leaving the glacier lake side where there were some small icebergs bumping on the shore we headed up the trail into the rainforest which covers everything around here. Every tree is covered in swathes of lichen and the ground and tree trunks are covered in sphagnum moss, fungi of all sorts, and these wonderful plants I first saw in the Glacier Bay camp ground. They have long branching stalks,with vicious looking spikes on, extending up towards the light topped off with a large leaf on each stalk that spreads out capture as much light in the relatively gloomy forest understory. My guide book mentioned an unmarked trail that takes you onto a spur of rock at the glacier's mouth and we found the turnoff and followed the narrowing path down some steepening slopes to the waters edge and then up and over the bare rock spur. Lots of evidence of the power of a glacier with striations and smoothed areas on the rock surface as well as chunks of rounded rock with completely different morphology from the rock it was lying on. As we crested the spur the glacier appeared and the wind brought much cooler air straight off the glacier. The spur was covered in ice as little as 20yrs ago and it was interesting to see all the colonising plants tucked into every nook and crevice. there was a weather station and webcam stuck out on one end of the spur. We ate our lunch here and spent time just marveling at the size and power of the mass of ice in front of us. We posed for pictures together and then headed back the way we had come meeting another small group of people in the way. It was tempting to head up the mountain a bit further but it was getting a bit late to start the climb and expect to be back in time for the last bus.
Another pizza in Pizza Roma down town rounded off the day before we headed back to the hostel. Roberto, Eva and Raul are heading down to Vancouver the way I came up, on ferries Juneau - Prince Rupert, PR-Port Hardy and then on down the island by bus.
Woke up thinking that I really should check my flight, it was either departing at 12:10 or perhaps 10:12... Quick dash to repack and do my Hostel chore and call a taxi to get me to the airport for the 10:12 flight 61 to Anchorage via Yakutat and Cordova!
Had a breakfast of coffee and cookie and checked my emails. My choice of the flight with stopovers was good as we have been getting great views of the mountains and vast ice fields feeding innumerable glaciers which have large out wash fans stretching miles across the plains that separate the mountains from the sea. The airports at Yakutat and Cordova are little more than a runway and a small collection of buildings with a few bush planes with oversized tyres parked up. It is quite suprising that this flight is the first time I have encountered the grossly obese Americans we all hear about. Two very large people have squeezed their way down the aisle here in Cordova. There is a lady in the seat in front of me, well seat and a half as the arm rest has been raised to let her in, that is causing me concern! The seat is literally groaning and I hate to think what happens if we have a rough landing in Anchorage....
This is the last leg of the flight to Anchorage and then I have to get to Tim and Michelle's house and let myself in. I will be on my own till Sunday when they return from a trip with Mike, Nancy and crew. Time for some exploring of the city, maybe a rethink about warmer clothing, and some long overdue laundry!
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