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Juneau, Alaska

After an overnight ferry trip from Sitka, passing via Angoon on Admiralty Island, we arrived in Juneau, Alaska's capital, on 29 July. Despite being on the mainland it is not connected to the outside world by road and is not Alaska's largest city.

Juneau has some great hikes and the first one we did turned out to be closer to 11 miles than the 5 we were anticipating. The trail guide was not clear on whether the distance was one way or return trip - we found out the hard way - but a great walk through the temperate rainforest out to Herbert Glacier. Lots of different mushrooms along the way, not quite as ready to pick and eat these as the berries!

Our second hike was gentler, along the waterfront on Douglas Island across the Gastineau channel and through the old Treadwell Mining area, where some of the foundations and machinery remain. The beach itself was a by product of the mining, where all the spoil was deposited and still holds quite a bit of gold. It was interesting to talk to the guys panning on the beach, but a hard way to make a living.

After a quick detour to Glacier Bay (see separate blog) we returned to Juneau and moved to a campground at the bottom of Mendenhall Lake, fed by Mendenhall Glacier, which is clearly visible from the sea. A little chilly, but a beautiful location.

Ambitiously on a sunny day we decided to attempt Mount Jumbo. We'd been told it was a great hike and worth the view - 3,300 ft later in only 2.5 miles, we felt we had climbed, not hiked, up the mountain. The views were fantastic of the Gastineau Channel and the walk down, whilst challenging, was worth it as we met a great guy, Stuart, who invited us for beers, introduced us to the local pub, Louie's, and later that week invited us around for an amazing crab supper with his lovely wife Dayna, for which - Thank you.

Our last hike in Juneau was the west side of Mendenhall Glacier. Again quite a bit of climbing involved, but as we detoured to the edge of the glacier, we found the famous Mendenhall ice caves. A little tentative to begin with, we did find our feet and the colour inside was incredible.

We rounded off the trip with a great last night watching Trampled by Turtles, a Minnesota band.

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