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Anita Latte

Trip Report: ALASKA. Northbound Hubbard Glacier. Millennium. June 22, 2018.

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Even in a somewhat leisurely fashion…it was only a 10-minute walk back to the pier…

 

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A parting shot of beach…

 

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A parting shot of the Nature Trail along the shoreline…you can see the Seabourn ship:

 

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Within 15 minutes we were back in our room…I took these photos from our stateroom. The tender is from the Seabourn…looking more forward and to the left:

 

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More toward the right:

 

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We were all tired. We didn’t bother changing for dinner this evening. I don’t recall having to wait to be seated.

 

Tonight was a good dinner night.

 

About the food general…

 

I was just talking with Mom today about the food on our cruise. It’s wasn’t horrible…though it could be less than wonderful and not something you would enjoy eating.

 

You have to work the menu. I think it helps if you have seen any kind of cooking reality shows…get a feel for what may or may not be successful for banquet dining. It’s a production to serve the MDR. Don’t think…what am I in the mood to eat? It’s more…What will the dining room prepare well?

 

Choose that.

 

Your server is the best source for what the dining room is preparing well that evening…as previously discussed in this thread.

 

I found ALL the fish dishes to be on point. I enjoyed every single one.

 

Tonight was Alaskan Cod. I started with Butternut Squash soup (surprise) and the Grilled Asparagus Salad. I actually had dessert…the Tiramisu…which was more like a tribute to Tiramisu than a traditional one, but tasted fine.

 

About service…

 

Our service was slow. We mixed up when we went in for dinner each night…but it felt like we were shutting down service each night. The tables would be empty around us…servers were clearing and setting the tables and doing a bunch of “housekeeping”…lots of clanking of dishes and other not so lovely ambient noise.

 

DH commented that dinner would always take FOR. EVER.

 

This night…I was tired.

 

The day was exhausting for me. I realized after the fact…being on the water was like doing a balance board work out for 3 hours. My own knee was feeling it.

 

I don’t even recall where we were…but I just announced that it was time for me to go to the stateroom. I needed to ice my knee. I had brought large ZipLoc bags just for this purpose. I bid everyone good night.

 

At this point in the night…the only available ice is behind the large beverage station at the main entrance to the buffet. All the other dispensers were empty. That area was roped off so I needed help…which I received…to fill my two bags. I had an extra bag for DH to use.

 

FYI…I use a pillowcase as the buffer for icing when traveling.

 

When DH and DS came back to the room…I swear they were talking about pizza from the buffet? There was one night that I didn’t go with them…and they served Tikki Chicken pizza…which DS declared was the BEST. SO good.

 

DH spent some time getting our fishing gear sorted for the next day.

 

We were docking in Juneau at 7:00 AM. We had a rental car reserved for pick up at 8:30 AM. We set our alarms accordingly.

 

Lights out on ISP.

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Today…we are in Juneau.

 

Today’s Today:

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1q_bK7rRPwLV_p0UvT8diKkbuP-_jdSeU/view?usp=sharing

 

We 3 would be going fishing this morning.

 

High tide was scheduled for 1:29 PM. We had read…and Casey confirmed…that the best fishing would be during the hour prior to, during, and the hour following high tide.

 

Really the best fishing is around the changing of the tides…the times surrounding low OR high tide. Slack tide…when the water isn’t really moving at all is the worst. Low tide was at 6:58 AM…with the ship docking at 7:00 AM…and the logistics of getting a rental car, etc., trying to fish the first low tide…what we read was the BEST fishing time, morning low tide, wasn’t really possible for us.

 

The evening low tide was predicted for 7:02 PM.

 

Again…not good timing for fishing with all aboard being 9:00 PM. That’s cutting it too close to the wire for the logistics of returning the rental and dealing with all the fishing gear post fishing. So high tide was driving our time schedule for Juneau.

 

Mom and Dad were totally not interested in fishing…so we would contact them in the late morning to touch base. The plan was to pick them up after fishing for lunch and then go to Mendenhall.

 

Our car rental was reserved for an 8:30 AM pick up.

 

This allowed for plenty of time to verify that our fishing locale was good. To get all set up:

 

Waders

Fishing pole assembly

Attach reels

Tie on the swivels

Pick out the first lures for the day, etc.

Scope out the area…

Have some time to get to know the new fishing rods…YES…this would be the first time we used our new heavier duty rods and reels EVER…

Have time to deal with any issues…and in general get ourselves sorted to be ready for the “best” fishing time that should begin sometime after 12 noon.

 

Our time was padded also because DH was the only one who really knew what he was doing…DS hadn’t been fishing since his memory kicked in…so this would all be a learning experience for him at the same time.

 

Avis was our destination, as previously mentioned.

 

I had in my head that it wasn’t a terribly long walk to Avis…and since there weren’t any taxis readily available…we hit the road.

 

There was thick cloud cover this morning. Low lying clouds, or even fog, obscured the tops of the surrounding mountains. It wasn’t raining when we left the ship…but the Daily called for showers and a high of 61F.

 

DS and I were wearing our long-sleeved merino wool shirts. DH is more hot blooded…he wore his short sleeves with a thin tech fabric pullover, ready to be in short sleeves only later, if the day warranted. DH and DS were wearing technical fabric cargo pants…I wore my thicker Athleta brand hiking leggings. All bottoms were suitable for wearing with the waders we would all wear while fishing.

 

About half way to Avis…we tired of the walk and hired a taxi that WAS readily available in front of another cruise ship dock.

 

Millennium has a prime docking spot for walking to downtown…the closest berth…but it was the furthest dock from the area where Avis is located. The walk isn’t flat…so we piled into a taxi van and were driven the remaining way to Avis.

 

It was fortunate in one respect…I took a photo of the phone number of the taxi service for reference for when we dropped off the rental car.

 

Avis was easy.

 

Upon arrival, we were the only customers there. The two ladies were cordial. With our obvious fishing equipment…they drew our attention to the potential for a $500 fine if there was any blood or fish smell left in the vehicle.

 

Our fishing wasn't obvious to everyone though…there were so many people on the ship that had no idea what we were carrying in those rather long cylindrical tube-shaped totes. One person thought they were weapons?…he made some very rude, snide comments…wondering how we got them on board…but under his breath…but not under enough for us not to hear. What in the world? Quite the conversation piece…walking around a cruise ship with fishing poles.

 

We took photos of the small dings and imperfections on the vehicle…ran them past the ladies in the trailer to see if they needed to be noted on our contract. They were all smaller than a half dollar…a very unusual reference in today’s world…so we were good to go.

 

Casey had indeed sent us an email. He gave us a tremendous amount of information about fishing in Juneau…and specifically, his advice confirmed that our plan was a good one.

 

Our destination was Fish Creek Park on Douglas Island.

 

We had acquired a one week fishing license for DH, DS, and myself. It’s easy to obtain online:

 

http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=sportlicense.main

 

Knowing what we did about the hatchery King Salmon, we had also purchased a one day King Salmon stamp for our Juneau day. Legally…we were all set for fishing.

 

It’s odd to be in a car after not having been in one for a week. We had a well equipped newer model Toyota Camry. DS was ready with the tunes…synced up to the radio in short order…we were cruising along with the windows down…feeling the crisp air…listening to some sweet Indie Alternative…and soaking up the atmosphere.

 

We headed out for Douglas Island.

 

Going across the bridge was a real eye opener. Just a few hours past low tide…the channel on the Gastineau Channel side of the bridge opposite the Juneau Harbor didn’t have a whole lot of water in it. Giving the appearance of a river more than a channel.

 

It is the Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge. The words on my map are on the water itself…because land appears at low tide…turning the vast stretch of high tide water into a spider web of rivers and creeks at lower tides.

 

Fish Creek Park is in this Mendenhall Wetlands State Game Refuge.

 

The Douglas Highway doesn’t have much view of the water once you cross the bridge… The solid land bordering the refuge is residential housing. Normal houses…not water front mansions. The quirkiest house was one that was completely sided with repurposed snow skis.

 

This is the first time that we have rented a car on a cruise vacation. I was extremely resistant to the idea…what a hassle I thought. Still not my favorite, but there’s something comforting about being in the smaller vehicle with your family…doing something “normal” while traveling.

 

We arrived at Fish Creek Park just before 9:30 AM. (photo taken later in the day…)

 

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Our first glimpse of the water since crossing the bridge to Douglas Island. It’s Spring in Juneau! Wildflowers were in bloom…even with the cloud cover…it was a gorgeous day!

 

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In the parking lot…other fishermen were getting ready.

 

We couldn’t be bothered to do any prep work in the parking lot…we were raring to go. We were finally here and thought it would be just as easy to get sorted further on the trail.

 

We grabbed our backpacks. Off we go.

 

Casey had talked about making our way to the ocean and finding deep water. There’s a footpath on the right side of the parking lot. According to multiple reports…including Casey…this is the most direct path to the water.

 

A crushed gravel path winds through a field a bloom with wildflowers…

 

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Through an area with more deciduous trees…

 

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Transitioning to the cushy pine laden path through the typical towering trees of the Tongass National Forest (still in it!)…

 

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And opens into a meadow where a small creek…at this time of day…winds through the grasses to the ocean.

 

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Taking in the sights along our trail…reading the signs…we paused to the side to let two local fishermen walking with more intent than ourselves to pass…

 

We 3 saw their hats with the netted head and face coverings…our first indication of what was to come. As a famous comedian says…There’s your sign.

 

What a bummer that we had left the mosquito repellent I had purchased specifically for our trip to Alaska in the STATEROOM…

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There was some stress. Some agitation. Some thinking that maybe we should have gotten more prepared in the parking lot…

 

We had hiked in a fair ways though…so we were going to suck it up and get outfitted RIGHT NOW…ASAP…so we could cross Fish Creek and see if we could find some respite from these BUGS over there!

 

O.M.G.

 

I’ve never seen bugs like this.

 

EVER.

 

It was AWFUL. I will not lie. It was horrid. DS’ beanie looked like a sesame seed bagel…except the sesame seeds were these little bugs. All over. ALL. OVER. Really gross. Really, really gross.

 

I mean…we knew there would be mosquitos…we KNEW. We just didn’t realize how thick they would be. They didn’t look like normal mosquitos either…more gnat like. So maybe they were gnats? IDK…they were bad. Head nets were the proper gear for the occasion.

 

I can’t say it enough.

 

If anyone is attracted to doing this because you read about this…I just want to be clear. The bugs were prolific. I won’t gloss over…every time I lifted my camera for a photo…there would be bugs on my camera…bugs on my glove covered hands. The bugs were flying SO CLOSE to my camera…I caught them on film…or SD Card…

 

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Just sayin’.

 

You have been warned.

 

We were able to find a spot where we had a bit of relief…just a bit…and when the drizzle came…that also helped. It’s wasn’t 100% awful…still…

 

Now that we have that out of the way…

 

The meadow was peaceful…so green…

 

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DH marched along. He was eager to set up. And I was photographing the lupine…

 

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And the irises…

 

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And then we hit the mud. The land that would be completely covered at high tide.

 

And the bugs…

 

And we needed to get into our waders FAST so we could cross Fish Creek…and get to what looked like a less muddy area…more rocky…maybe fewer bugs? Hopefully?

 

But first…we need a rock or something solid so that we can actually get changed and put our packs down on something besides all the mud. We spied an outcropping of rocks and headed there to get waders on.

 

DH has full chest waders and separate wading shoes. DS and I had hip waders with built-in boots. We changed as quickly as we could…and headed over to what did indeed turn out to be a less buggy area.

 

We crossed Fish Creek:

 

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I took my first photo of Mendenhall Glacier! Very difficult to see through the fog…it’s the lightest colored area above the tree line in the middle of the photo. There are 3 fishermen where Fish Creek enters the bay. Take note of all the land in the photo…

 

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Light rain offered some bug relief. The poles were all sorted and DH and DS started fishing. It was about 10:30 AM.

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DH and DS were fishing in Alaska. All was right with the world.

 

I was taking photos! And soaking up the beauty all around…

 

There wasn’t a lot of water traffic. I did see these kayaks or canoes go by…they are beyond what I would normally call a sand bar…little slivers of orange towards the right...

 

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The fog was lifting. Mendenhall was more visible. Pretty incredible to be fishing and able to glance over and see a glacier…there's a helicopter to the left above the glacier...

 

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The water was starting to rise. I was concerned for our gear. In particular, I was concerned for my backpack, which I didn’t want to continue to wear, but places to set it down were in short supply. If we were going to be moving around to test the fishing waters…I wanted to secure my pack. I offered to walk my pack and the things we didn’t need back to the car.

 

Would I?

 

Oh yes. I didn’t mind at all.

 

I like hiking. I love being on a trail. I really have fun taking photos. And I would love a break from the bugs. You betcha.

 

We had seen other hikers come from a different direction. I followed that trail back to the parking lot. New terrain to see.

 

Walking back on this trail…I could see into the cove further down from where my guys were fishing:

 

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The trail was a wildflower wonderland! The same flowers we had seen just beginning to bloom in ISP were in full bloom here. The trail wasn’t quite a bushwhack through the wildflowers…but it was close. They were huge and crowding into the walking path. Eye level shot:

 

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I could see the mountains on the far side of the water again…easier to see now that the clouds had lifted and the sun was peeking through the clouds:

 

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Like the opposite side of Fish Creek…the trail entered the more wooded area after passing through the meadow:

 

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The bugs were present in the wildflowers…but not nearly as bad as on the mud…and they were virtually gone in the woods.

 

The path winds along through the trees. Passes a lagoon…a popular fishing spot.

 

There is a port-a-potty closer to the lagoon than the parking lot.

 

A picturesque wooden bridge crosses Fish Creek very close to the parking lot.

 

Dropping off my backpack and the empty fishing tubes…two guys prepping their fishing poles in the parking lot struck up a conversation with me. They worked on the ferry…were somewhat local…living a ferry stop or two away. They were quite impressed that any cruise ship passengers were on their own fishing here. They recommended taking the ferry in the future…planning a different sort of trip to Alaska and getting to some of the less frequented by cruise ship towns to get to some really great fishing along the Alaskan coast.

 

Definitely something that I would love to do.

 

I had a signal so I called Mom to check in.

 

I headed back to my guys to see how they were faring.

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I took my time getting back to my guys.

 

A part of this day was originally going to include a bit of Father Son Fishing time. There was that hope of the shore fishing guide…and while the fishing guide aspect of the day was unrealized…the Father Son fishing didn’t have to be. This area is beautiful…I was a happy non-fisherwoman…enjoying the day and seeing what all I could see.

 

The lagoon was home to several eagles.

 

For this walk through…I spotted a couple. I made notes to be able to point them out to my guys later.

 

I was fascinated with the wildflower “jungle” and took so many pictures of these tall flowers…changing up the backgrounds. The sun had come out. This is one of my favorites:

 

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I decided to traverse a new path...walking along the shoreline to approach my guys’ fishing spot.

 

They were in extreme excitement…DS had caught a fish!

DH was pretty sure it was a rock fish of some sort…purely based on our Alone viewing education. Not a King Salmon…but who cares? They caught a fish! A monumental achievement fueling the thrill of fishing for the first time in Alaska…all on our own…educated by our own research and some last minute confirmation from Casey.

 

Proof that fish could be caught this day.

 

We learned later…when reboarding that afternoon…DS caught what the local’s call a Double Ugly. It’s common enough to catch one. Also called Irish Lords. Turns out it’s a type of sculpin fish.

 

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One of DH’s favorite pictures of the day…Father Son Fishing with Mendenhall Glacier in the background.

 

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These are repeat photos that bear repeating…my “teaser” photos from when we had just returned from our trip.

 

DS fishing with Mendenhall in the background…notice the water level. Whereas earlier, the foreground here was mostly land…and where Fish Creek emptied into the bay was distinguishable…now…with high tide still two hours away…you can’t even see that there’s a river flowing into the bay.

 

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DH fishing with snow-capped mountains in the background.

 

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Another shot of Mendenhall. Notice the rock where DH’s backpack is resting. Notice the water level on the rock as indicated by the plant life clinging to the rock…that’s how much more water will be entering this area. That’s water level at high tide. Also...don't miss the bugs...

 

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It was time for another check in with Mom and Dad.

 

The bugs were BUGGING me…and I would prefer to get back into less buggy territory for another break.

 

DS had asked if I cared to cast a line or two…I didn’t really. He fished for a bit more…but then he was ready for a break as well.

 

DH was still Gung Ho for fishing. He stayed while DS and I headed into cell phone signal range.

 

There were many more fishermen at the lagoon…with more arriving. I think fishing the lagoon is more viable during high tide when the lagoon level rises with incoming waters and the possibility of incoming salmon is greater.

 

It’s relatively easy to strike up conversation with fishermen. Especially when you yourself are walking around in waders and one of you…DS…is holding a fishing rod.

 

We learned that the lagoon had been a hot spot the day before with Kings being caught all over the place. But this day…the fishing was slow.

 

Here you can see fishermen along the shore of the lagoon…and the surrounding trees which were filled with eagles.

 

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We spent time at the lagoon…spotting the eagles.

 

The classic photo of a bald eagle in the tree tops in silhouette with a sky background:

 

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Another one...

 

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Here we see what I guess is the male eagle in the tree top…and again, what I guess is the female in their nest further down in the branches of the trees...look to the left below the top eagle to see the female:

 

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And my very best close up shot:

 

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Standing in a field of purple lupine! I never got a good photo of myself in the Blue Bells in Texas…so these lupine in Alaska are an excellent substitute! Yes. I like purple!

 

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Calling Mom and Dad…they were in the rain…walking around Downtown.

 

I told them I could bring them into the sunshine…I thought they might enjoy the nature trail and seeing the eagles…and the wildflowers. DS and I headed back to downtown to pick them up.

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It didn’t take long to pick up Mom and Dad and then head back to Fall Creek Park.

 

I had thought Mom and Dad would enjoy exploring the area…seeing the eagles, etc., but it was pretty obvious that Mom wasn’t enthused. When asked, she admitted that it was pretty miserable for her.

 

Ok fine.

 

A call to DH…fingers crossed that he can answer his phone...

 

He couldn’t…but he called me right back. High tide had just hit…his backpack rock was an island…and he wanted to continue fishing.

 

No problem.

 

DS had had a good break and he was ready for some more fishing. He would head back to join DH.

 

We discussed the possibility of mentioning fishing in the lagoon to DH? Would that be a better spot for trying to catch a King? DS and I agreed that it wasn’t just about catching a King…it was about the experience…you don’t go to Alaska to go fishing in a lagoon when you could be the environment of the ocean with Mendenhall in the background.

 

DH said later that he was so incredibly happy and pleased to see DS come back to join him for more fishing. It just made his heart sing.

 

So…I felt a little bit at loose ends with Mom and Dad. I was very happy to let the guys do their thing…but now we were in a bit of an awkward spot. Hanging out at Fish Creek Park was misery for Mom with the bug situation…but we still had at least an hour’s worth of fishing that would happen. As they say, we had some time to kill. I wasn't sure how to fill just an hour or so. We decided to hunt down a local coffee house to enjoy some lattes while waiting for the guys to finish fishing.

 

When crossing the bridge back into Juneau to pick up Mom and Dad earlier…I had driven out of the partly cloudy sunshine at Fish Creek and into rain and full cloud cover of Downtown Juneau. Leaving Fish Creek again…crossing the bridge again...AGAIN we drove into rain. Continuing north on the Glacier Highway…we eventually drove out of the rain.

 

We ended up at a teeny tiny local coffee place. Flying Squirrel Espresso. They had a surprising variety of milk available. She rattled off so many different milks…I honed in on the Almond I wanted and also noted the unusual Macadamia Nut Milk.

 

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We parked and walked up to the window…we weren’t the only ones…but this is essentially a free standing building in a strip mall parking lot with two drive thru windows…one on each side.

 

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We just ended up sitting in the car…which was a comfortable sit if a bit weird. We were pretty much just waiting for the guys to be done fishing.

 

I know we had a misunderstanding with the timing of lunch with Mom and Dad. Mom had thought we would be having lunch much sooner than we were going to…so she deliberately had had a light breakfast to be ready for a hearty lunch of fish and chips. Since lunch wasn’t happening as she expected…it was uncomfortable. We all deal with our own dietary guidelines and habits and we were throwing Mom off her game.

 

All our family's snacks were with guys. And Mom hadn’t brought any from her stash on the ship because she had thought lunch would be sooner. This was the unhappy portion of this day…this unclear schedule of events for when lunch would actually happen.

 

As one hour past high tide time passed, I tried to get a hold of DH to see how they were doing. Were they ready for some lunch? DS had been hungry for lunch when we last saw him so…

 

Turns out they were ready for lunch…so I drove us back over to Douglas Island to pick them up.

 

They had had a great day fishing. They had caught another 5-6 Double Uglies…great fun. And something else that they couldn’t identify, but had photographed.

 

Later in the trip…we learned that they had caught a little Dolly Varden.

 

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DS had slipped while fishing…water had gotten into his hip waders. His socks were soaked. Not something that you want to have when hiking down Nugget Falls trail. There was an attempt to dry them out with the air from the car…OMG guys…NOT a pleasant aroma in this little Camry with 5 people crammed inside…while it’s raining and we can’t roll the windows down.

 

Teenage socks on the air vents. *Gag*

 

You can’t have too many pairs of SmartWool socks we decided…and so we stopped into a local sporting goods store to purchase a fresh, DRY pair for DS.

 

Our snack stash was back with the guys returning. Mom was able to eat some Lara Bars…two…and NO, that would NOT spoil her lunch, thank you very much…

 

FINALLY…we were having our lunch at a local favorite…Sandbar & Grill. A local who had dared to share on a thread here on the Alaska board had called it “the Sandbox” which he said was a nickname often used by some locals.

 

https://www.facebook.com/JuneauSandbar/

 

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This same local said that it wasn’t much in the way of ambiance. So don’t expect much…but the food was good.

 

I had taken a look at the website…saw the photographs…and knew what to expect. The thing that was most appealing was the price. A 5oz portion of HALIBUT fish and chips for $17.50. 8oz for $21.00. And of course, the recommendation from a local was also a thumbs up.

 

Late in the afternoon…this place was all but deserted. A couple of people were at the bar. I felt the need to verify that they were serving food at this time of day. They were. Whew.

 

We also ordered some local draft. Mom ordered a stout. DH and I ordered IPAs. Dad ordered a Michelob Ultra. We were all extremely pleased with our orders.

 

The tables are long farmhouse style tables. Bench seating. The restaurant is more of a bar with some table seatting that is restaurant like. At least where we sat near the windows. Pool tables are on one side of the room.

 

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The bathroom was clean but old and in serious need of repairs. There was a hole in the wall of the stall I used and someone had written “See…this is why we can’t have nice stuff.”

 

I thought the signage on the back of the stall door was hilarious:

 

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Food service wasn’t terribly speedy…or terribly slow. Our halibut was freshly fried…and it was served HOT.

 

It was excellent.

 

DH and I thought they were so good. DS liked them too but he would still say that the salmon fish and chips in Ketchikan were his fav.

 

With happy tummies…we were ready to visit Mendenhall…the glacier we had been seeing from a far.

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I am loving your report . You have such a positive attitude . I think all the rain & bugs would do me in . We went to Alaska in mid May and we only had sprinkles one morning .

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What strikes me about the drive to Mendenhall…it’s so ORDINARY.

 

You might think that a drive with such a unique and somewhat extraordinary destination would somehow have portents or glimpses of greatness along the path that leads to said destination.

 

Just, NO.

 

There are stop lights. There is a hiking/biking multi-use trail along the side of the road. The road itself is perfectly normal with the path next to it.

 

There is absolutely nothing special about the DRIVE to Mendenhall. You pass very normal looking suburban housing that happens to be along a road that terminates in the entrance to the Recreation Area that is Mendenhall.

 

So many things you read about online…you just don’t know exactly what you will find IRL. Would there be a charge for parking?

 

We drove through some sort of something that through signage, or something, visually announced that we had entered the Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area. We saw a parking lot to the left…with available spaces to park…we parked the car. There was no manned booth through which we had to pass…there were no signs…no meters…no ANYTHING that gave any indication that we needed to pay anything to park our car.

 

Sweet.

 

We saw a temporary shelter of sorts…my memory recalls an oversized pop up shelter area…with signage indicating that it was a shuttle pick up. There were people aplenty waiting there.

 

We walked towards the most obvious thing to walk towards…a permanent booth of sorts…staffed with a park ranger in the window. There were maps available.

 

There was a sidewalk of sorts. It was the most obvious path.

 

And THERE was the glacier.

 

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And THERE was the path that would clearly get oneself CLOSER to the glacier.

 

FOLLOW the path.

 

We had no interest in the Visitor Center. If my stance is not clearly understood by now…I just couldn’t be bothered to be INSIDE. I’m quite sure that there are valuable lessons to be learned by attending the indoor museums and visitor’s centers and whatnot…and perhaps my understanding could be expanded by such attendance…I can’t be bothered to place my body within the confines of a building when the thing I really care about is OUTSIDE and RIGHT THERE...and my time is limited.

 

I choose therefore to spend my time outside…and I will read about the things I had plenty of time to experience IRL, online…or in a book…LATER…when time isn’t as precious…when I’m looking for something to pass the time I have in abundance…when there is “time to kill” at a future date.

 

I save my $5 pp, or whatever the current charge is, to go inside the Visitor’s Center and walk along particular trails. Like the paved trail that is clearly marked with a sign that designates THAT trail is a FEE trail. It’s the Photo Point Trail. It appears to be an on your honor fee.

 

The Nugget Falls Trail is FREE!

 

Perfect.

 

That’s the trail we were headed for.

 

RIMG1026.jpg

 

That’s the trail that would get us as close to Mendenhall Glacier as we could get on this side of the glacier.

 

The trail is a hard pack dirt trail. Asked so many times on these boards…Do I need hiking boots for the Nugget Falls Trail? NO. You absolutely DON’T. But you might appreciate having a water proof shoe of sorts…and definitely something that gives you good footing on a slightly muddy, though hard packed mud, trail.

 

RIMG1028.jpg

 

You'll see a glimpse of the glacier as the trail nears. Nugget falls will be completely hidden by the contours of the landscape. Passing through the native landscape…you might pass small water features...trickling streams and very small "waterfall" that will NOT photograph well (at least for me)…but are beautiful in appearance and sound.

 

RIMG1039.jpg

 

You might notice a memorial to a Wolf…take a photo and think to yourself that you will look that up later. You could be writing your trip report over 30 days after your hike and find a wonderful reference to the memorial:

 

https://www.alaskamagazine.com/articles/featured/the-wolf-comes-home/

 

RIMG1044.jpg

 

You know you are getting closer to your destination…you can hear it! Suddenly, the trail rounds a bend that reveals the treasure at the end of the trail

 

RIMG1045.jpg

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Hi Anita, loving your report and your pix. Earlier in the thread you talked about your new Ricoh camera; were all these photos taken with that? Overall, how happy were you with the Ricoh. I am considering purchasing it for our trip in September.

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I wouldn’t consider a visit to Mendenhall complete without being able to experience Nugget Falls…now that I have visited Mendenhall Recreation Area.

 

The sheer magnitude of the falls…the height…Mom is the closest red coat to the falls.

 

RIMG1050.jpg

 

And the sound. This is my tribute video to Nugget Falls…I recommend watching only if you have been there already…otherwise…save your initial exposure for IRL.

 

7bTPs6Xdpq0

 

Judging from the time stamp on my photographs…our hike down the Nugget Falls Trail was less than 30 minutes. We spent just under 30 minutes admiring the glacier and the waterfall…and otherwise basking in the glory of nature…and our return hike was less than 30 minutes.

 

We were all satisfied with the visit. No rush. Just enjoyment.

 

I clamored over the rocks at the base of Nugget Falls. I touched the water. Brrrr! I positioned myself to capture an image that I hoped would project the power of the falling water. Click.

RIMG1060.jpg

I saw Mom and Dad in conversation…silhouetted against the backdrop of Mendenhall Lake. Click.

 

RIMG1083.jpg

 

I noticed the “surf” on the “shore”…the result of the waterfall hitting the lake on the sandbar. Click.

RIMG1080.jpg

Love this view! Click.

RIMG1066.jpg

DH had time to stretch out and just take it all in. Photographing him with the falls and the glacier in the distance…this was my favorite from my personal photo shoot…

 

RIMG1077.jpg

 

We had time to take posed portraits with the falls in the background…DH and I; DH, DS, and I; Mom, Dad, and I…

 

We didn’t rush…and it might have helped that there wasn’t a large crowd present. A few hikers like ourselves…and then the few that seemed to be associated with the canoe…

 

When we were ready…and not a minute before…we headed back.

 

We used the facilities…piled into the rental car…and headed back to the ship.

 

The Avis ladies had given clear direction regarding the closest gas station to the rental lot. We stopped and filled the tank. Then we dropped off Mom, Dad, and DS at the ship dock.

DH and I continued on to Avis to return the rental.

 

The rental office was closed for the day. We did an after hours drop off. I’m pleased to report that the final charge was exactly as it should be...we had no hassles with additional charges for any supposed damage or any other reason.

 

Isn’t it wonderful when things go as they should?

 

We repacked all our gear which had exploded all over the trunk. Double check the car for all belongings. Note the return time on whatever that was…and dropped the keys and such into the drop box.

 

Call for a taxi. Wait. Wait some more. Wait a bit more. The taxi service sends you a text when your taxi is nearing. Handy. A short ride back to the ship.

 

Here we had an enlightening conversation with two dock workers. The guys at the top of the ramp saw the fishing poles and asked about our day...so we talked a lot about fishing. That’s when we learned about the Double Uglies.

 

Easy time through security. Back to the stateroom to drop off our gear before dinner.

 

I believe we were boarding around 8:00 PM.

 

I had very mixed feelings about visiting Mendenhall Glacier when planning our vacation. I know they were entirely related to the cost of getting TO Mendenhall. I had issues with the $45 pp shuttle fees I found. For my family of 5…was this truly a $225 excursion?

 

As weird as it is to say…I appreciated the glacier MORE because I first saw it from so far away. The distant viewing gave me the opportunity to witness the impact it had on the surrounding landscape. I saw it from however many miles away. I saw how it was a significant feature that stood out for miles…so when I approached it upon closer inspection…I could marvel at getting a closer look at something so grand.

 

You don’t physically get close to the glacier…even on the Nugget Falls Trail. You are looking at the glacier across the lake water. MickeyLive had said that they are talking about moving the Visitor’s Center to be closer to the glacier. This article talks about some of the plans for improving visitor experience at Mendenhall:

 

http://juneauempire.com/news/local/2018-04-27/new-ambitious-plan-unveiled-deal-surge-tourists-mendenhall-glacier

 

Our car rental was $120.30.

 

To each their own. You have to figure out your personal cost benefit scenario based on how many people you have touring together and what all you want to do. Renting a car was absolutely worth it IMO…even with the added taxi fare for pickup and drop off. Don’t get me wrong…I think that’s a rather expensive single day fare but supply and demand will out. By comparison…it was definitely the way to go for us and I have no regrets or thoughts of how we could have done this better.

 

This evening…we ate a later dinner in the MDR.

 

We did not attend any theater shows. We weren’t on board for the early show…and we were still eating when the late show started.

 

After dinner, we went to the Ultimate Motown Music Trivia in the Cosmos at 10:15 PM. We stayed for the beginning of the Interactive Motown Party afterwards when members from the production cast dance and get the party going.

 

It was a long day.

 

We didn't stay up late. Perhaps this is the night the guys had the awesome Tikki Pizza without me? IDK…I just remember feeling pleasantly exhausted after an awesome day in Juneau. Being ready for bed.

 

We didn’t have a paid excursion planned the next day for Skagway. We planned to have a later breakfast and ease into the day for our DIY touring plans.

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Hi Anita, loving your report and your pix. Earlier in the thread you talked about your new Ricoh camera; were all these photos taken with that? Overall, how happy were you with the Ricoh. I am considering purchasing it for our trip in September.

 

I LOVE my Ricoh camera. It's a sturdy little thing. I love that I have no fear for just putting it in my pocket without needing a protective case. It makes it as handy as my phone for taking pictures...but it takes better quality pictures than my current phone.

 

I did do some experimenting with the camera before travel. It isn't the best on the Auto setting when taking the lower light pictures...for example...when in the darker area of a forest. So I experimented with lower the ISO setting (easy to do in the menu) and found those pictures to be better than auto setting pictures in the lower light.

 

It takes great photos in full sunlight.

 

I also love the shape of it. I can easily use it with my gloves. Something I really cared about being able to do for the glacier viewing.

 

I also love that it writes fairly quickly. Meaning that the camera is ready to take a photo again in not too long a period of time. I used Dad's much older "rugged" camera and it has a much slower write speed that would have made me nuts.

 

I haven't gotten it completely submerged in water. I didn't care about that...I just wanted to not freak out if it was raining!

 

I find that the information the camera grabs for the photos to be very editable. I have a free version of Adobe Lightroom, which is software that you can use to do some exposure and color correction on the photos. A click of the "auto settings" in that program usually works wonders on the image data the Ricoh collects...especially for the photos with a lot of cloud cover. It adds a step in dealing with the photos...but I don't mind as I usually have to pare down the photos anyway because I am somewhat click happy.

 

My only gripe about the camera is that the picture taking button takes some serious effort to push. I think it's due to the nature of the waterproofing and being more rugged? You push it to the first click for the auto focus...then you push it all the way to take the photo...which is normal, but with how hard you have to push the button...you have to become accustomed to it to keep the camera from moving too much when you take photo. The shutter speed is fast enough that usually, this doesn't cause blurred photos...unless you are dealing with lower light.

 

Because of the way I like to just carry it in my pocket...I did get a clip on lens cloth that has it's own pouch. The lens cloth is sewed to the pouch so you can't separate the two which makes it very convenient to clear any water drops or smudges off the lens.

 

I paid just under $250 for it on Amazon, which also had a deal at the time that would allow me to make 5 equal monthly payments of just under $50. I considered this to be a good deal at the time and now that I've had the camera for a while...I think it's a GREAT deal.

 

The photos here were by and large taken with my new Ricoh. Every outdoor photo and many other photos were taken with it. I also had an older model Panasonic Lumix which has similar specs as the Ricoh in terms of aperture and other such things that I don't really understand! I would use that in the evenings more than the Ricoh because I have a way on the Panasonic to adjust for indoor lighting that I like.

 

The Ricoh only has a 5X Optical zoom which I think means that is the max zoom with using the lenses only to zoom...and a digital zoom of 35X. Several of the "super zoom" posts here were taken with that max digital zoom...which is hard to do. Hard to find the thing you are trying to photograph...and hard to hold the camera steady. But I think the results are pretty good for this little point and shoot.

 

Mine is the WG-50.

 

It doesn't have any WiFi...so you have to use a cord to transfer photos. But you also just use that same cord to charge the camera. It didn't take long to charge and the full battery never ran out on me. That's also another reason I had the other camera for the ship at night. I wanted to never forget to plug in the Ricoh to recharge for the next day...so I would do that and take the other camera out for the ship evenings.

 

If my enthusiastic response wasn't clear enough...I definitely recommend this little camera. It's a great buy IMO and I have a lot of fun using it.

 

Edited to add: Thank you for the compliment on my report! I really appreciate the feedback!

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I am loving your report . You have such a positive attitude . I think all the rain & bugs would do me in . We went to Alaska in mid May and we only had sprinkles one morning .

 

Thanks Sally!! We didn't have that much rain. It's true that it was raining in Ketchikan...it rained pretty good and constant in the morning but then it would drizzle a bit and then by the time we were going back to the ship, it was just overcast.

 

We just had some light sprinkling where we spent most of our time in Juneau. I was trying to point out how there was rain in the downtown area while the areas we were in just had a sprinkle or two at most and that came and went quickly.

 

No rain in ISP...and I'm not there yet, but no rain in Skagway.

 

The bugs though...that was a rough one. Especially since my plan all along was to let DS do most of the fishing on that second pole. It wasn't too pleasant for hanging out with the guys but it made a great excuse for me to be able to explore a bit on my own...which I did enjoy a lot.

 

I like to think that I have a positive attitude in general. I do try to make the best of whatever situation I find myself in. You plan as much as you can, but the days will turn out how they will and you can't control everything. I don't see the point in complaining, I guess...I'm very much a get over it and get on with it kind of person.

 

It's hard sometimes but attitude is a choice. You may have a work hard to get control of your own attitude and not let someone else or outside circumstances determine how you are feeling. For something like this Alaska vacation...I just maintain being grateful to finally get to go there and fulfill a dream DH and I have had for so long.

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Anita, Alaska should hire you to write copy for their trip ads! Your commentary is what people (me) are looking for when researching where to go & what to see. Pictures are stupendous. Thanks for taking so much time to write this entire trip report

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

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Anita, great review of your trip with lots of useful details. Your pictures are amazing and it is evident that you enjoy searching out great shots. Looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip. Thanks for taking the time to share.

Sharon

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The Mendenhall Chronicle…

August/September 2007 versus June 2018

 

Mom and Dad had sailed an Alaskan itinerary in August/September 2007.

 

In Juneau, they did a combination Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier excursion. Their time at the glacier was limited. They visited the Visitor Center and walked the photo trail. They did not have time to also walk down to Nugget Falls.

 

This is one reason why we were not bothered by skipping the Visitor Center. Mom and Dad had been there before…and we 3 were not in the mood for such a visit. You have to be in the mood to learn I think…and we weren’t in receive mode as they say.

 

Also…with our plans post cruise…I knew that if we ever were in the mood to see a glacier visitor’s center…we could go to the one at Exit Glacier, which doesn’t charge admission.

 

Since Mom hadn’t gotten to Nugget Falls…and heard so much about it…she was eager to see it. Walking that trail ranked at the top of her to do at Mendenhall.

 

It’s too bad that they charge a fee for the Photo Point trail. This page lists the areas that require a fee to use:

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/detail/tongass/about-forest/offices/?cid=fseprd502109

 

This publication is current…it is the map that I picked up on location:

 

https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprd3835583.pdf

 

Because the two visits to Mendenhall accessed different trails…I don’t have the ability to show a side by side comparison of the Mendenhall of 2007 versus 2018…but I have done my best to find photos that are close enough in angle to show how changed Mendenhall is.

 

I have these photos only because my Dad passed on his camera to me when he upgraded his own. Such a nice Dad. He also passed along the SD card…which still had his Alaska photos on it. Nevertheless, these photos were not taken with the same camera either.

 

Some general observations…

 

First…the 2007 photos were taken with a sunny day. Little cloud cover. The mountain tops immediately around the glacier were more visible. The 2018 photos have significant cloud cover. I think what they say regarding the blue of the glacier being more visible with cloud cover is true…but the photos are generally better with less clouds, I think.

 

Second…the later season photos show the onset of autumn. The trees are changing.

 

Lastly…there are icebergs in more quantity and quality in 2007. The few present in 2018 had moved away from the glacier and were smaller. Weather conditions greatly affect the icebergs…as we learned later on our kayaking excursion…so I don’t know that this is related to the time of year so much as the recent weather conditions. I do question though…with the change in the width of the glacier terminus…how big the icebergs could be now.

 

I didn’t have many photos of Mendenhall. Bluntly…it wasn’t that interesting to me up close and I didn’t think my photos of the glacier up close were any good. I was much more enthralled with Nugget Falls, which was spectacular in comparison. As I said, these are not perfect comparison photos with the different viewing angles, but I think studying them…looking to the terrain around the glacier for reference points…you can see the change.

 

2007:

 

1_GB_Card_7_21_13_248.jpg

 

2018:

 

RIMG1095.jpg

 

In my picture…I absolutely love the tourist posing in front of the glacier!

 

 

2007:

 

1_GB_Card_7_21_13_228.jpg

 

2018:

 

RIMG1071.jpg

 

 

The icebergs in 2018:

 

RIMG1097.jpg

 

So…these photos may show dramatic in the change of the glacier because of the viewing angle. There’s just nothing I can do about that for reasons previously mentioned regarding where the trodden path was on the two visits to Mendenhall chronicled here.

 

However...looking at the reference points…

 

It appears that the upper portion of the glacier is relatively similar in depth…comparing the top two photos, looking at the notch in the mountain on the right side of the glacier, just below the top height of the glacier on that side. That seems similar to my eye.

 

The height of the portion closest to the water is what has changed so significantly. Looking at the crest of the glacier toward the right side…I’ll call it a crest, IDK if there’s a more technical term (I didn’t go to the Visitor’s Center;))…below which the glacier slopes opposite the general flow and is “dirtier”…THAT part was larger and covered more ground in 2007.

 

Also, there is definitely more rock exposed in the “S” of the glacier…coming around the bend…that bend is much more rock exposed in 2018.

 

The Forest Service web site states that Mendenhall is 13 miles long. The current access to the glacier in no way impresses upon the visitor this expanse. It’s still a beautiful sight…but the recession of the glacier is really sad to see.

Photos I've seen online taken from the West Glacier Trail are really impressive. To get the overhead view of the glacier and get to see the more river-like aspect of it would be fantastic. Personally, I really hope the plans to improve visitor access to that side of the glacier come to fruition.

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Anita, a positive attitude is the most important thing to pack when you travel!

 

 

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Thank you bunnyette! I completely agree!

 

Anita, Alaska should hire you to write copy for their trip ads! Your commentary is what people (me) are looking for when researching where to go & what to see. Pictures are stupendous. Thanks for taking so much time to write this entire trip report

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

Melody...I would LOVE to do that! Thank you for the feedback. I'm enjoying the writing. I'm trying to figure out how I can do more writing.

 

Anita, great review of your trip with lots of useful details. Your pictures are amazing and it is evident that you enjoy searching out great shots. Looking forward to reading about the rest of your trip. Thanks for taking the time to share.

Sharon

 

Sharon...thank you! I do enjoy photography...not so much that I'm all into the technology and are willing to deal with a bunch of equipment...but it is a creative outlet for me to take photos and exercise my artsy side. Thank you for reading along...we're about half way through the trip so a lot more to come! Thank you for the feedback...I really appreciate it!

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Today we are in Skagway.

 

Today’s Today:

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dpplOnsJ-_GRdIIIhR8MUexE46eA9WmS/view?usp=sharing

 

Another early morning arrival at 7:00 AM.

 

Our plans for this day didn’t require an early wake up. Our main excursion was to hike the Lower Dewey Lake Trail. We had talked about a picnic but when talking about the day…our timing seemed to be out of sync with when we would have a meal. So no picnic…just a hike up to the lake.

 

Time permitting, we might take a free ranger-led walk, hike one of the many other trails around town, and/or sample a local brew brewed with spruce tips.

 

We had a leisurely morning.

 

I know I was eating my typical buffet breakfast at 9:00 AM because I had a struggle with food service in the Oceanview.

 

Like every morning since finding the Poached Egg station, I had been having my spinach and smoked salmon Benedict. I would walk down the buffet and grab what I call country style potatoes…the big roasted cubed potatoes with peppers and onions.

 

This morning, the buffet was shutting down. The area I normally attend was taped off. I continued walking around in search of my potatoes…which aren’t anywhere else on the buffet. The remaining open buffet has the fried hashbrown patties similar to fast food restaurants. Didn’t want those.

 

So I hurried back around to where I had just spied a brand new tray of the potatoes I like…and I am a potato fan…I consider them a white food indulgence. Just as I was within reach of the object of my breakfast heart’s desire…the tray is lifted…NO!!!! I spoke up…I wanted those potatoes.

 

We had words.

 

It was odd…and I understand if food has been out too long and they have to take food away for that reason…but I didn’t think that was the motivation here. Please, sir, can I have some potatoes?!?!

 

A nearby passenger didn’t understand why the crewman was so rude…I was relieved!! LOL…I thought she was making a negative comment about me having to have those stupid potatoes!

 

Anyway…on this day…normal breakfast ends at 9:00 AM. I had it in my head that it was 10:00 AM, which it is for Sea Days and the ISP day. If you have an early port day…they must expect traffic to be earlier…and service shuts down sooner.

 

The buffet WAS sparsely attended at this time. I think there are many early departure excursions in Skagway between the train, buses, and helicopter tours.

 

We headed down to Bacio for our morning caffeination.

 

Millennium was docked at the single berth away from the mountains and the train tracks. The Bacio view was a combination of industrial storage facilities, a helicopter tour’s take off place, and Yakutania Point with two peaks across the bay which I believe are Face Mountain 4830’ and Parsons Peak 5403’.

 

There’s a parking lot in front of the helicopter tour place…there appears to be a shuttle running to ferry passengers needing assistance into town. Otherwise…it looks like quite a walk to get into town. Especially this morning.

 

It’s not nice to laugh AT people…it isn’t…but it was VERY ENTERTAINING watching people walk back to the ship this morning.

 

The ship had “backed into” the berth. The gangway was towards the bow…so you have to walk the entire length of the ship and then some to get into town. Sitting in Bacio…we had prime viewing of people on this walk…which was effectively a wind tunnel. The wind was BLASTING down this area…and seeing the means and ways everyone dealt with the wind provided much viewing pleasure. Hats threatened…umbrellas misshapen…skinny, lightweight people LEANING into the wind…

 

Viewing the helicopters take off and land provided more Latte TV. I think it’s for a glacier dog sledding excursion. Regardless…there were 5-6 bright red helicopters all in a row. They would land in succession…like little helicopters all in a row. The tourists would turn over…out with the old…in with the new…and the helicopters would take off in turn. They would fly off in line…and they would return in a line like Groundhog Day…and do it all over again.

 

We were commenting on the skill of the helicopter landings.

 

The sun was shining…but there were some clouds. The Daily said a high of 60F…so mostly in the 50s again…and with the wind…we wore our layers off the ship to combat the wind chill.

 

DH and DS wore short sleeved tees with a warmth layer of choice. I wore my cami with my fleece hoodie. DH wore shorts. DS and I wore tech fabric bottoms…his cargos and my hiking leggings.

 

The walkway is flat…past all the industrial storage on a paved path…take the boardwalk for a long stretch over the water…down MORE paved path into town.

 

DH’s knee was doing OK. Not great. But he was dealing.

 

Based on the time stamp on photos…it was about a 10 minute walk to the first point of interest: The Skagway Centennial Statue. A life-sized bronze of two men (maybe slightly larger than life)…one a representative Tlingit packer, a sort of guide for the other man, a representative stampeder, eager and determined to reach the gold fields. The packer is above street level…standing on a rock…easy to see above the surrounding throng of tourists.

 

The tourists are EVERYWHERE.

 

This is the first time we have truly been in the midst of the cruise passenger take over in port. Skagway is picture perfect…I totally get the reference to Disney World. I’ve been to WDW on crazy busy days…and Skagway did NOT look like that…but visions of a non-crazy day on Main St USA WDW definitely come to mind.

 

Except that there are MOUNTAINS all around the main drag…

 

We passed over trying to see the statue and reading the plaque at this time…thinking we could avoid the jostling later in the day. We were right…btw.

 

I was excited to see the often photographed Cooke Rotary Snowplow. The information card was also crowded with onlookers, but I waited my turn to get my portrait with the huge designated No.1.

 

Our first goal was the Klondike Gold Rush Visitor Center. This is the National Park Service information center. A distinctive red building with yellow trim, it is clearly marked with signs all over it. You can see all the tourists on the sidewalk...

 

https://www.nps.gov/klgo/planyourvisit/visitorcenter.htm

 

RIMG1120.jpg

 

The exhibits here are worth a look. The 3D map of the area, showing the two routes to the gold fields, provides a great visual of the trials of the trail. A good follow up after the few headlines and photos I skimmed over in the ISP gift shop and museum.

 

The quotes presented in large font…the brief descriptions…the photos. The display is geared well toward someone like myself that wouldn’t mind more information in the moment…but doesn’t want to spend too much precious touring time reading and learning.

 

You could spend more time here…really read everything and watch the presentations and the short film.

 

But we didn’t.

 

We headed into the park service side to get some trail maps. A glance at the board showed that many ranger-led talks were at capacity. The times for the couple with room still available didn’t seem to fit with our hiking plans.

 

We picked up the general brochure…which I had seen online:

 

http://skagway.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Skagway-Trail-Map.pdf

 

And also a trail specific sheet, which I had not seen online. A single sheet with more detailed information in addition to the information available here:

 

https://www.nps.gov/klgo/planyourvisit/shorterdayhikes.htm

 

These sheets detailing the specific trails are available for all the trails.

 

DH and DS needed a bit more caffeine…so we hit up a local coffee shop along the way to the trailhead…along 2nd Avenue.

 

The Train Shoppe for the White Pass and Yukon Railroad has a gift shop and a coffee stand. We popped in here for some bean brew and a bit of shopping. The purchase of note here are the wildflower seed post cards. They are filled with seeds from local wildflowers. Reasonably priced…Mom purchased a few that she knew would actually grow back in AZ.

 

Coffees to go in hand…we continued on down 2nd Avenue toward the trailhead.

 

The signage in Skagway is first rate. The directions on the literature is clear…but you could easily just follow the signs…so long as you know to walk down 2nd Avenue to start.

 

RIMG1131.jpg

 

Turning here, Pullen Creek flows beside the walkway. In season…you can see salmon running this creek…no salmon at this time of year. Today…there was a beautiful yellow Labrador retriever running in the creek! It turns out that his parents had decided it was time to visit Alaska…they had driven up from Montana. Over 5 days they said…but they weren’t in a hurry, they said.

 

Hmmmm.

 

Take the bridge over the creek.

RIMG1133.jpg

 

Cross the railroad tracks.

 

RIMG1136.jpg

 

Wipe your feet.

 

Wipe your feet?

 

YES!! WIPE. YOUR. FEET.

 

RIMG1139.jpg

 

I didn’t observe anyone else wipe their feet…but I can tell you that these feet wiping stations are located on all the trails we traversed on national public land.

 

A sign announces:

 

“WIPE YOUR FEET

Shoes can carry the seeds of invasive plants like reed canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea). Please brush them off before entering and leaving this area.

 

Play. Clean. Go.

Stop invasive species in your tracks.”

 

There is detailed information answering the subheading: “What’s The Problem?”

 

This is my public service announcement…I received no compensation.

 

Please wipe your feet.

 

I live in the land of Kudzu. If you don’t know what that is…be grateful. Suffice it to say that I live in a land overtaken by an invasive species…my landscape is reduced to kudzu topiaries as the spreading vines cover EVERYTHING in its path. I don't think wipe your feet would do any good in the battle against kudzu...point being though...dealing with invasive plants is rough business.

 

So maybe I’m sensitive to the idea.

 

And I did grow up in California…so…

 

I will say one last time…please wipe your feet. Takes less than a minute.

 

Now you are ready to tackle the trail!

 

A lovely solo lady hiker came down the trail as we were hitting the trailhead. She laid her fallen wood staff among a few other discards…saying that it was very helpful and she was glad to use it. Maybe someone else would appreciate it too.

 

And then I realized that I had left my trekking poles in our stateroom. Ugh. I had brought them specifically for this hike. Oh well again.

 

I grabbed the pole for Mom.

 

Walk past the sign saying:

 

“Tsunami Evacuation Area: In case of earthquake stay on high ground or inland.“

 

The arrow points the way…

 

We began our ascent.

 

It was just before 12 noon.

Notice all the hikers with improvised wooden staffs...

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Trail Description reads:

 

“This trail switchbacks steeply for about 500 feet (0.5 mile) along the forested hillside. Not far up the trail there is a rock bench which provides a view of town and the harbor…”

 

The trailhead begins at the base of a service road. Not too far up the hill, there’s a staircase on the right side that descends to the continuing trail. Watch your head as you walk under the rusty pipeline overhead…

 

And continue your ascent…

 

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There is a bit of respite in the switchbacks. There is a teaser view of the town below…it isn’t as good a view as further along the trail. But it’s a good excuse for a breather. Something to extend your time on this bit of more level trail…

 

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Except for the hint of the views below to the town…you are immediately immersed in the forest.

 

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This is a popular trail…you will not be alone…but the hikers are few…and their presence is almost comforting.

 

There are signs and warnings about being in bear country after all.

 

We saw few hikers…I could easily take photos of the beauty of trail:

 

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I was happy to see the rock bench! And the view:

 

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This area was just a bit congested. It’s slow going coming down this section. Some nervous hikers were really taking their time. We were happy to sit…take a water break…catch our breath…let the hikers disperse a bit…

 

And then continue on ourselves…

 

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There are good signs on the trail. This sign is a teaser…

 

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You may think that you have finally made your way through the steep part of the trail…but, no. No, you haven’t…

 

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Persevere. Continue on. There is a respite ahead…

 

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In all seriousness…this is a nice port-a-potty. I was so happy to see toilet paper!

 

I will recommend that when you see it…use it. There were a few other hikers waiting when we hiked by. I couldn’t stand it. I didn’t want to wait to use the toilet in the forest! But I will say…it is not convenient to go back. I know because I went back to it. It was much further back along the trail than I had recalled.

 

And I still had to wait when I backtracked.

 

We didn’t read the literature closely when we were hiking. I knew from studying the maps that the reservoir could not be Lower Dewey Lake…but the excitement of finally seeing water! And the way that the trail seems like it could continue on by that water…

 

Wait a minute.

 

Back to the main trail.

 

There is a sign that indicates the Lower Dewey Lake Loop and which way to hike to reach the other trails that continue on from Lower Dewey.

 

In appearance…the trail to the left…the trail to the east side LOOKS to be easier. We did start in that direction…

 

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But I had a check in my spirit, as some of us say…and we paused to read the trail sheet stuffed in my pocket. “A rolling trail along the west side of the lake…and continues on to the rougher and narrower east side of the loop.”

 

Turn around. Go back. Hurry back to the porta-potty since we have backtracked!...and continue on the west side trail.

 

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The lake is a long thin lake. The trail doesn’t hug the shoreline…but you can see the lake through the trees.

 

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This area is very pleasant. It is sheltered from both the wind and the sun. Dappled shade they call it in gardening. You aren’t deep in the forest but you are still surrounded by it.

 

The picnic areas at the Lower Dewey are fully equipped. At least, the one we hiked past was:

 

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When I saw this…I was disappointed that we didn’t have provisions for a picnic. I had read that you can have a fire with a fire permit…easily acquired from the local fire department. The trail sheet says “Build fires only in city approved, hardened fire rings. All fires must be called into the Skagway Police Department before burning. Fires must be attended at all times and put out cold to the touch.”

 

It would have been fun to hang out for a while.

 

But our timing was without those thoughts today. We would have had to leave the ship must earlier. It was fine.

 

We continued on the trail…and ALMOST turned back when we hit a rough patch. It’s an effort to get up to the lake level…when you think about conserving energy so you can make it back down…this rough trail feels like the sign that your day should be over.

 

Push past it because that is the first major opening for seeing the lake. You literally just have to get around that short bend.

 

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The wind here is fierce! Another wind tunnel effect coming through the break in the trees…over the water and onto this small beachy area. There is no tide…these are WIND waves…

 

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Trail sheet says: “Good views of the Twin Dewey Peaks (5410 ft) may be had from all points of the lake.

 

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This is an excellent point for picture taking. We spent just a bit of time here taking photos.

 

I saw another picnic table with a view. The dark spot in this photo is where that picnic table is. It is along the east side of the lake. There are 5 picnic areas according to the map.

 

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According to the time stamp on my photos…we were satisfied with just over 15 minutes of viewing and picture taking. I’m surprised considering the number of pictures we took…

 

And the fact that we had made a friend along the way.

 

IDK if he was a crew member on one of the other cruise ships…or just traveling alone. He was from Indonesia IIRC. We ended up talking on the trail…he asked me about the area…apparently I looked like I knew what our party was doing. He didn’t have a map…just a suggestion to go up to this area…and he was walking around completely relying on the signs.

 

He walked along with us for a while. I gave him what information I could.

 

He asked me to pose with him here at the beachy spot!

His all aboard wasn't until 8:00 PM.

All aboard was 3:30 PM…it was 1:15 PM when we headed back down the trail.

 

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Anyone who has overworked their quads and had to walk DOWN stairs knows…going down can be more difficult that going up.

 

It may seem nerve wrecking to see such signs:

 

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And we recognized that this was the section that gave some hikers we had seen earlier some serious qualms coming down the hill. The stairs in the path are on the outside of the path…and the near side to the hill is very rocky and not anywhere you want to place your foot…

 

Mom was a champ…

 

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Dad was a champ…

 

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Both of my parents are in really good physical condition but this is a challenging hike. Foot placement at times can be tricky. You want to be wearing good shoes. We saw locals…or rather people I assume are local because they were walking their dogs…wearing flip flops. So I guess if you are used to hiking similar terrain and have toned ankles for dealing with the uneven terrain…thongs are okay footwear for you.

 

I would recommend that you have shoes you feel comfortable hiking in. Both my parents did fine in their shoes…but I will say that with my own knee situation…I was extremely grateful to have my hiking boots. Not only did I appreciate the ankle support…I appreciated the shank in the sole of my boots which gave me extra support when stepping on rocks and other uneven surfaces.

 

The viewing bench was a good water break again.

 

We were back at the trailhead by 2 PM.

 

We had spent 2 hours on the trail.

 

We were hungry…but decided we could wait for lunch back on board ship. We had 90 minutes until all aboard…we would spend our time meandering through Skagway as we made our way back to the ship.

 

This is my favorite view of Skagway looking toward the port

 

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This is my favorite view of Skagway looking inland…this shot was taken earlier in the morning as we were about to enter the park service facility.

 

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We meandered down the main drag with our fellow tourists...so glad that we had had plans that gave us a break from all the people.

 

We were sucked into a jewelry shop with a deal for $10 stud earrings with a stone that I think they called, “Northern Lights.” DS and I both got a pair. Very pretty...and a good price for a souvenir.

 

We continued on and peeked our heads into the Red Onion Saloon.

 

We had enough time to go to the Skagway Brewing Company but when we asked about the Spruce Tip Brew…the guy said they didn’t have any…so we continued on to the ship.

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We stopped to read the plaque at the Centennial Statue…and admire the statue.

 

The idea of cross country road trips with stops to read all the historical markers has crossed my mind often. Pretty much every time I see a brown directional sign indicating a historical marker. There is in fact a database cataloging historical markers…including the one at the Centennial Statue. You can find the text on the markers on the website as well as locations.

 

This is the link for the Skagway Centennial Statue:

 

https://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=69128

 

The first line is the best…”Skagway was originally spelled S-K-A-G-U-A, a Tlingit Indian word for ‘windy place.’” Perfect description for the weather we experienced at various times today.

 

You can click here for a map of all the historical markers in Skagway:

 

https://www.hmdb.org/map.asp?markers=72790,72785,72784,72791,69128,69014,69126,73328,72786

 

At 2:30 PM, we were on the Boardwalk…headed back to the ship.

 

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Everyone was ready to eat. I was hungry…but I was in a picture taking mood.

 

Digital cameras satisfy picture happy people like me. It’s fun to experiment. Back in the days when I worked for a paycheck…I did graphic design and what they used to call desktop publishing. I just click away…choose later which images capture the moments best.

 

Why take one when you can take so many?

 

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My family plowed ahead. I lagged behind. It was quite windy. They boarded while I continued with my photo session.

 

Looking directly forward from the gangway area…Yukutania Point and the helipads. One helicopter is in midflight.

 

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Eventually, hunger won out and I boarded. I caught up with my guys in the elevators…Mom and Dad were somewhere else…but I figured we’d all have to be at the buffet.

 

This was a busy buffet time. Tables were scarce but we did manage to find one. Mom and Dad opted for more pool side burgers. DH just wanted to sit. The day had caught up with him and he was done being on his knee.

 

DS came back with some good looking protein from the Aft Grill. Done.

 

There are salad fixings back there. You can make a wonderful salad topped with the grilled protein of your choice. I made DH and I tasty salads.

 

I really wanted to watch sailaway. “Our table” from the Vancouver sailaway was available…so we headed out there for some libation and prime sailaway viewing. DS was ready for nap…he passed on sailaway.

 

Looking into Skagway from the Sunset Bar…I just realized it’s called the Oceanview Bar…hmmm.

Study the green hillside...you can discern a sort of terracing effect in the slope. I believe Lower Dewey Lake is at that first lower terrace level. On the far right of the photo...there's the exposed cliff with the "billboard" for Kirmse's Curios Shop...I believe that is the area where the rock bench and overlook is either there or the smaller one to the left of that.

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There was quite a bit of time to study the hillside and suppose where we had hiked today...

Watch the play of light on the landscape...

We were getting chilled. Mom went back to her stateroom to grab a coat…the convenience of the AQ Deck 11 staterooms to the Sunset Bar. Even DH put on his hat.

 

What time was it anyway?

 

It was after 4:00 PM…Sailaway was obviously delayed. The talk of the bar was that we were waiting for an excursion.

 

You can get a little silly waiting…with a digital camera at the ready.

 

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DH was done. He wanted to lie down...stretch out. Dad had gone back to the stateroom earlier. Mom and I hung out for a while but then decided to call it, too . She headed up to her stateroom…I needed the ladies room.

 

And that’s when I decided that I really wanted to see sailaway. I was bailing but I didn’t really want to.

 

So I headed back out to the Sunset bar (It’ll always be the Sunset bar to me!)…grabbed another Alaska Brew and soaked in the scenery. Yes…it was chilly…but I didn’t want a little discomfort to stop me from doing what I really wanted to do. Getting up and moving around a bit had helped quite a bit…I was feeling good.

 

It turns out that the train was late. No idea why.

 

Skagway looks like an elaborate train set. Germany in Epcot anyone? I call this one…”Ode to Thomas”

 

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It was 4:30 PM.

 

Shuttles were at the ready to ferry the passengers ASAP on board.

Edited by Anita Latte
Wrong time conversion!

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Skagway Sailaway is SPECTACULAR.

 

People ask…what is not to be missed on an Alaskan Cruise?

 

Skagway Sailaway makes that list for me.

 

Look a map…on mine…Skagway is at the end of the Taiya Inlet. This is a narrow body of water…the land on either side can be appreciated with the naked eye…no binoculars required.

 

The mountains on one side are over 5000 feet in elevation. On June 27, 2018, they are still snow-capped. They have a tree line…

 

DH and I…and DH’s family…often talk about all the “mountains” in the various places where we have lived. Growing up in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains…most members of DH’s family do not consider many “mountains” across the US to be “real” mountains…hence…all the air quotes.

 

REAL mountains aren’t completely covered in trees…REAL mountains have the same shape year round…they don’t get fuzzy outlines with naked trees in the winter. REAL mountains have tree lines above which there is nothing but craggy, rocky tundra like terrain.

 

The Taiya Inlet is surrounded by gorgeous mountains…

 

Watching the wake though…this is when I knew…I LOVE to watch the wake. I want a stateroom where I can watch the wake. I’m leery of the aft balconies because they have those partitions…I’m concerned with tunnel vision. I do like to see all around.

 

Those Family Verandas on the edges look NICE…I don’t care about the exposed part…and who can see me…I could see out…and that’s the important thing.

 

Will have to see what happens with those FV rooms when Millennium undergoes the Revolution…everything I’m reading is speculating that the FVs will be bye bye…converted into suites. Might have to grab an FV…IF POSSIBLE…on a different M-class before it hits its own Revolution…just to experience it…not sure I could take the $$$$ of the suite update.

 

I took so many pictures during Skagway Sailaway…

 

Normally, I do my best to pick and choose from all my photos. I try to put them in context…have them add to my general story…

 

So here’s the story of the wake…and how Skagway disappears from view during the first 30 minutes of Sailaway.

 

When Millennium first backs away from the dock…my lens can finally capture how the mountains tower over the small coastal town of Skagway…

 

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