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Alaska Cruise:
Amsterdam (7 night Seattle return)

by Murray Lundberg

    Page 1: Whitehorse - Seattle - at sea
    Page 3: Glacier Bay
    Page 4: Sitka
    Page 5: Ketchikan
    Page 6: Victoria - Seattle - Whitehorse

Click on each photo to greatly enlarge it.

    Sunday, July 22: When we looked out the window in the morning, we were just turning into Stephens Passage, a fairly narrow channel leading north to Juneau. This is a particularly scenic part of the whole trip, and we spent most of the 2-hour run out on deck in the sunshine, drinking coffee and taking pictures. The hour before we got up (west of the mouth of Tracy Arm) is one of the best humpback whale areas in Alaska, and we're normally up on deck for that, but we'd both been working hard lately and apparently needed some more down time.

    The first lines were put ashore in Juneau at 10:25. According to the ship's log, we'd travelled 876 nautical miles from Seattle at an average speed of 20.7 knots.

    Our plans for the day were flexible depending on the weather; with mostly sunny skies and temperatures forecast to be in the mid 60s, Mount Roberts was the first desination on our list. For lots of information about the city see A Guide to Juneau.

    The Mount Roberts Tramway, which costs $24.95 for adults, takes you to the 1,750-foot level of Mount Roberts. There you can have a meal, see a live eagle, visit the Nature Center or go for a hike on miles of trails. Your ticket allows you to ride up and down as often as you want all day - that can be handy if the weather changes or if you want to see the city lights come on, for example.

    Cathy and I opted to go for a moderate hike up to Father Brown's Cross at an elevation of 2,050 feet (Father Brown, among other activities, was active in the construction of the original trail up the mountain in 1908). A map of the trails can be purchased at the tramway ticket office for $1.

    Being a weekend, there were many locals on the trails, drawn by the sunshine and the alpine flowers, which seem to be particularly abundant this year throughout the North. The temperature today hit about 70.

    Serious, well-prepared hikers can travel for many miles beyond Father Brown's Cross, to Gold Ridge (at 3,258 feet), Gastineau Peak (3,666 feet) and Roberts Peak (3,819 feet) in particular. As you can see in this photo, summer comes late even at these fairly low altitudes - that's partly due to the record-breaking snowfall in Juneau this past winter (197.8 inches).

    On the way back down the mountain, seeing the crowds on Franklin Street (okay, crowded by Alaska/Yukon standards!) convinced us that we wouldn't be spending much time there - a short walk up to the Juneau Artists' Co-op and back was enough.

    A group of Tlingit Indian dancers put on a lengthy performance at the tramway station and drew a good crowd. These 2 adorable little guys were having lots of fun being part of it. The donation box the group put out seemed to fill up quite nicely.

    One of the most popular sites to visit in the Juneau area is the Mendenhall Glacier. Although you only get distant views of the glacier, we go out pretty well every trip (we live close enough that we can visit Juneau on a weekend). It's easy and cheap to reach, with shuttle buses running regularly from the dock for only $12 return. This shot shows one of the best photo locations, aptly named Photo Point. To the right is Nugget Falls, which was our hiking destination this time.

    Near the start of the route to Nugget Falls is a sign warning that "this is not a trail" - there is cold water to wade through and slippery, sloping and unstable rocks to traverse. That's all true, and it's not easy to follow the route either, but this is the view from the end of the 20-minute walk. Alone at the falls (Cathy decided not to attempt the unstable rock slide), I waded out into the bitterly cold spray, and it was wonderful!

    Hikers do a fair bit of work to keep the route passable - most locals seem to wear shoes that allow them to wade through the creeks and shallow bays, but rock paths such as this have been built in a few places.

    We were on the tram heading up Mount Roberts as the Mercury came into the harbor just after 11:00 am, and she departed just before us, at 10:40 pm.

To Page 3: Glacier Bay