I found myself in Juneau for 4 days for the 2010 Mountain Rescue Association
Summer Conference, put on splendidly by Juneau Mountain Rescue
, (whom you should all donate money to or buy hats from).
Rather than spend my entire first day in lectures at the conference center, my girlfriend and I decided to hike around Mt. Roberts instead. This is an awesome hike for anyone with only a limited time to spend in Juneau, and you can hike as little or as far as you want, starting in town, or cheating the first 1,200 ft on the tram. We took the tram up to the visitors center, checked out the rescued Bald Eagle who got his eye shot out by some local yokel and got on our way.
The first mile or so is lush evergreens and coastal vegetation, but soon it gives way to epic views of the Gastineau Channel as you walk along a picturesque alpine path. As we hiked we passed eagles, marmots, a bear, songbirds and only a handful of humans (thankfully). The sky was cloudy, but we were just below the ceiling and still had great views.
. We reached the snowline and ridgeline at about 3,200 feet and began to traverse over to Mt. Roberts when the clouds dropped in and we soon had near white-out conditions (visibility of less than 200 ft). We decided to fore go the summit and backtracked to the northernmost nob that forms the Mt. Roberts ridge. We hiked north to the smaller summit at about 3,600 feet and as we neared the top, the rock beneath our feet took on a strange quality. It was as if the mountain was hollow. Corina was forty or fifty feet behind me on the trail, but when I stopped, I could actually feel her footsteps, and if she hopped up and down, I could hear and feel it. I have no idea what this was (and I'm a geologist, so I should). Perhaps some locals can enlighten me...
After a few minutes it got cold and we headed down, which was even nicer than going up because you can really enjoy the view that stretches out before you. Back at the top of the tram, we hit up the restaurant and enjoyed cold beer and warm food. We finished up by hiking down the final 1,200 vertical feet of the trail, which was dense, beautiful forest, very cool. We popped out in Juneau more or less behind Sarah Palins old office and found our way back to the hotel.
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