|Peaks and clouds|
It’s been quite awhile since I’ve gotten any blog entries done. I suppose the most common excuse for not posting regular blog entries is being too busy, and that really is part of it. It’s been hard to devote time to blogging lately, so I hope no one minds that I will be doing some back posting of some of the more interesting hikes I’ve done the past few months. A couple of the more memorable hikes I’ve done this year were during our Alaska cruise during the first week of July. We really don’t do a lot of cruising. For us it’s mostly a family thing, but we really had a great time doing the 10 day cruise even though it may not be the most environmentally sensitive way to take a vacation. But, I’m sure we can atone by the way we live our lives the rest the year.
We had a day to spend in the borough of Skagway, AK which is situated within a secluded inlet called Lynn Channel along the inside passage of Alaska’s panhandle. This area was home to the Tlingit people for untold generations. When gold was discovered in the Klondike region of the Yukon, this place became an important passageway from the sea up through White Pass into the Yukon, and the Chilkoot Trail. During the height of the Klondike gold rush the population of the area grew to 30,000 people, mostly prospectors, and a colorful and sometimes infamous history ensued. Today the full time population of the borough is 862 by the last census. During the tourist season those numbers double, and they are host to over 900,000 visitors, mostly from cruise ships.
|View across the channel|
After perusing all the available trail descriptions and maps, we decided to hike to a place called Devil’s Punchbowl, by way of Upper Dewey Lake. The trail head is only walking distance from the harbor, right alongside the tracks used by the White Pass rail line that runs between Whitehorse, Alberta and Skagway, AK, along the historic Klondike gold rush route. The trail begins by immediately climbing up some switchbacks through the thick tree cover of the coastal alpine forest in order to gain the top of the first little ridge line. After a moderate climb, just on the other side of the first ridge is Lower Dewey Lake. The climb is only about 600 feet, and about 1.7 miles. The lower lake has a network of trails that follow the banks and go to other places, including a glacial fed waterfall which I wish we could have had time for. The lower lake also serves as a reservoir for the residents. It’s a really nice area for some casual time. At the north end of the lake is the trail to Upper Dewey Lake, and it is here that the hike becomes a bit strenuous, as hikers embark on a fairly relentless uphill.
|Cascading melt water|
The upper lake trail follows close by a beautiful cascading creek with some good viewing areas to see the rapidly flowing, churning, waters coursing steeply downhill. The creek is flowing from the upper lake into the lower lake, and you can hear the rushing waters echoing through the forest in the background even when you cannot see it from the trail. The terrain is thickly wooded with mostly tall Sitka spruce, with a mixture of hemlock and alder, and a thick green understory. The trail climbs higher using many switchbacks, with some sections being steep enough to cause you to be careful of your footing. The surface has lots of loose and embedded rock and shallow tree roots, and many sections have erosion damage. You don’t get very much in the way of long range views until you get to the top, but the trail is very picturesque and fragrant, with interesting plants, flowers, and lichens.
|Upper Dewey Lake|