The journey to Juneau may as well have been a voyage to another galaxy, for all I could see from the ferry windows. They yielded pitch black scenery whenever I sought clues about my new home. This post-graduation foray into the world of interning should have felt liberating from the onset, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I might be heading to Alcatraz.
That caged feeling Gorilla glued itself to the back of my mind as I unpacked. When I felt confident enough to leave my room, the highway into town felt like little more than a capillary between civilizations, stretching across an overpowering expanse of mountains and seawater. Historic buildings and suburbs alike seemed out of place, too structured to withstand the chaos of winter winds and avalanches.
I scampered from assignment to assignment with the tense survivalism of an exile. I came here to learn and leave.
Just one problem, a vestigial feeling from Fairbanks — I can only find freedom in the forest. Before long, my muscles itched with restlessness. I stumbled to a nearby trailhead. There, I found the mountains and ocean weren’t jail bars, they were gateways. I meandered through the forest, surrounded by unfamiliar and familiar plants alike, the dusk light filtering through the trees in such a way I hadn’t seen since my autumn mornings on the Tanana.
Best thing — it’s above freezing during the day, even in November, yet here I can quell my spheksophobia, for the wasps are long gone for the season. A welcome reprieve from the sliver of time between wasp season and ice fog in Fairbanks.
I came to Juneau expecting to see at least one great example of transition other than the extended autumn. Mendenhall Glacier, I knew, shows the natural sequence from glacier to forest. I had no idea that a 15 minute drive from KTOO could land me alongside the forest’s reclamation of decaying ruins.
And yet, I found myself trekking around Sandy Beach and the ruins of Treadwell Mine this last week. On Wednesday I’ll talk more about that (can’t help myself) treasure trove of history. Until then, any suggestions on where to hike in Juneau?