A Sunny Day in Juneau
Let’s start with that lumberjack show. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you probably saw that lovely photo (right) earlier this week. That’s from the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show in Ketchikan. Those are professional lumberjack sports competitors – and yes, that is a real thing. All of the guys in the show are title-winning lumberjack sports athletes (I think that’s the best term for them), and the events in which they compete are no joke! Scampering up denuded tree trunks, carving with chainsaws, trying to outroll one another on a floating log…well, it was quite impressive.
I guess the moral of the story is, the next time you’re in Ketchikan, be sure to “ketch” this lumberjack show – it’s totally worth an hour of your day.
The next day, I woke up to one of the brightest, most beautiful mornings I’ve ever seen. And when we pulled into Juneau, I felt incredibly remorseful for thinking the town wasn’t as cool as the others we visit – because when it’s not shrouded in cloud and rain, it’s a breathtakingly beautiful city!!! Mountains on all sides, crisp fresh air, and a call from the hills to go hiking. So I did!
Now, remember that tram I saw my first week in Juneau, when I sat on the promenade deck and looked out into a drearily misty mountainside? Well, I thought it’d be fun to ride it up and then hike at the top. Except the line for the tram was something like an hour’s wait! We all know how patient I am (not), so I decided to ask the information booth people if there was a way to reach the top without the tram. Naturally, there was a lovely hike called the Mount Roberts Trail that connected with downtown Juneau, so, together with my fellow singer Caliph, off we set.
As with my favorite Ketchikan trail, just getting to the trailhead in Juneau was a workout. San Francisco-like hills were an excellent warm-up, and I was quite wowed by some of the gardens I saw along the way.
You may have seen my Instagram demonstrating my excitement over going hiking again. That was the revised edition – this was the first (more honest) one:
Only slightly scary.
For this had been the view en route to the Chilkoot trail:
Soon after, we disembarked from the van and prepared to begin our hike along the Chilkoot Trail, one of the original routes prospectors used to get to the gold mining activity in Canada before 1900. This was our first view of the river we would eventually raft back down, with beautiful Alaskan fireweed in the foreground (I love wildflowers!):
I feel like I should frame that one! It manages to capture the tranquility of the entire excursion.
The hike itself was very relaxed. The trail was similar to the one yesterday in Juneau, with roots and rocks for a trailbed, and we had a group of eight, so there was no rush to get anywhere. There was tons of moss and lichen, which were bright green in real life but which my camera has rendered greyish.
We stopped often, with Mary explaining what the different kinds of trees and vegetation were; I now know the difference between Sitka spruce, Western hemlock, and birch, for example. My favorite part of the tour, however, was that Mary was really into helping us identify (and try!) the edible plants around us – as well as which ones were poisonous. I tried these high-bush cranberries for the first time, which are sort of a mix of pomegranites and gooseberries, marked by the three-tipped leaves (slightly hard to identify in the photo below) – delicious!
At one point, we saw a couple of bald eagles on the shore. See those two white dots in the tree above the woman’s head? Yup, those are their heads.
Though I am an employee of Princess Cruises, all opinions are mine only and do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.