At 6 PM on Christmas Eve, I set out on my first solo trip in several months. At the ferry terminal, I loaded Jessica’s bicycle onto the ship. Unfortunately, my bike had been stolen the previous afternoon. I left Sitka, and arrived in Juneau, in complete darkness. Pleasantly rolled up in my sleeping bag, I slept through most of the 9-hour ferry ride.
The first day in Juneau was a rainy, typical Southeast Alaskan day. Because I arrived early on Christmas morning, I rode from the ferry terminal into town in the dark. With my headlamp bound to my bike helmet, I slowly found my way to my host’s home. After an early morning nap, I set out to explore Juneau. I quickly found an icy path, and rode Jess’s bike to the Mendenhall Glacier, which was way more beautiful than the image I had drawn in my head based on descriptions from the Internet.
Juneau, though a city of only 30,000, felt huge and a little overwhelming. I realized how much I had grown accustomed to the small-town life in Sitka. In this new city, I knew that there was no way I could bike from one end of the road to the other in an afternoon. However, my nervousness soon turned into excitement as I admired the new landscape around me. On the second day, I biked to the end of Thane Road. I was hoping to catch a beautiful sunrise, but only saw the heavily-clouded sky get lighter. After recharging at a coffee shop with some delicious cocoa, I found my way to Roberts Mountain and began a 1500-feet hike up the mountain. It was pretty cloudy throughout the hike, but there were still some amazing views.
So beautiful, but so cold! Luckily, my walks on Sitka’s trails had prepared me to go up snowy slopes. After the hike, I biked back with freezing slush in my socks and a big smile on my face.
On my last day in Juneau, I was out the door before dawn. I rode out to Mendenhall Glacier again, this time under clear skies. The air felt thin and rarefied. I hiked out to the tongue of ice, and watched the sun rise in the east, casting its light onto the glittering ice.
I found my way over to Nugget falls, which is this loud and powerful waterfall right next to the glacier.
In the afternoon, I rode about 15 miles on the bike path back into downtown Juneau. After some wandering, I found Perseverance Trail and began a slow walk in the snow. This trail was much easier, but even more breathtaking. All around me, ranges of smooth but serrated mountains stood out against a clear blue sky. I felt a light breeze push me along the winding trail.
That night, I hopped back on the ferry and set off for Sitka at midnight. This time, after 8 hours in my sleeping bag, I was lucky enough to be on the ferry after dawn. I woke up in the morning to a beautiful sunrise on the water.
It was an exhausting trip, and it felt wonderful to come home to Sitka feeling both completely spent and totally rejuvenated.