Skiing Mendenhall Lake to Mendenhall River

Bill Hanson with Mendenhall River & Mt. Bullard in background
Mendenhall River & Mount Bullard (1,288 meters; 4,225 ft.) behind Bill Hanson. I’m standing about 6 meters (20 feet) above sea level.

Kate Troll, Nellie the Sheltie, and I skied around the shoreline of Mendenhall Lake a few days ago to the outlet where the Mendenhall River originates.

A little over a century ago, we would have been under the ice of the Mendenhall Glacier in this spot. Today, the glacier is 3.5 Km (2.2 miles) away and receding rapidly. Sometime in the next few years, it will no longer touch Mendenhall Lake, and icebergs will disappear.

Snow was beautiful, but has now given way to light rain. I’m thankful that I skied when the skiing was wonderful. Like many other places in Juneau, we treasure the beauty of our landscape—a new, magical view with nearly every kick of the skis.

We tried skiing on the lake and ran into slushy overflow beneath pristine fluffy snow. First job – scraping ice caked on our skis. Second—adjusting plan to ski the shoreline. Kate and I both have waxing skis. Mine are about 45 years old (!)—Fisher Europa 77’s—sort of like driving a steam-powered car—heavy and long, but still have camber and metal edges, so I like them fine.

Alaska Garden Box Beds-Moving for Winter

Moving Garden beds away from snow plows
Moving Garden beds away from snow plows

Our home sits on a steep hill above the saltwater, so we don’t have a back yard. I grow a few veggies in 0.9 x 2.4 m (3 x 8 ft.) box beds in our driveway.

2017 Bill Hanson with Carrots and Golden Beets from Box Beds
2017 Bill Hanson with Carrots and Golden Beets from Box Beds

To make room for snowplowing, I move them back from the road. They’re around 1,000 kg (2,200 lbs.) each so it takes a bit of finagling with a floor jack, pvc pipe, a couple of heavy pry bars, maul, and heavy rope.

Moving Garden beds away from snow plows
Moving Garden beds away from snow plows
Tools for moving 1-ton garden boxes. Floor jack, heavy pry bars, maul, and heavy rope. PVC pipe-see other photos.
Tools for moving 1-ton garden boxes. Floor jack, heavy pry bars, maul, and heavy rope. PVC pipe-see other photos.








2017 Box Bed with Beets and Carrots
2017 Box Bed with Beets and Carrots

Fortunately, @katetroll is very strong. The two of us can hand push, coax, pry, and torture the beds into safety adjacent to our flower garden. With lots of travel this year, we moved beds during the first snowfall of the year.


Nellie the Sheltie-Dog of the North Woods

Nelly the Sheltie - Dog of the North (northern
Nelly the Sheltie – Dog of the North (northern Southeast Alaska)

Nellie the Sheltie, Dog of the North Woods (northern Southeast Alaska coastal temperate rainforest). Thanksgiving: I’m so very thankful that Nellie the Sheltie is still our effervescent companion at home and in the woods… Thanks to Lindsay and Andre, she added kayaking credentials this summer!


Kate Troll and Nellie with Wild Flag (Iris)
Kate Troll and Nellie with Wild Flag (Iris)

Last spring, we learned Nellie had an aggressive tumor in her bladder. Thought we’d lose her, but medication and diet (and no doubt love and exercise) have reduced it by half. Still zipping along, barking in circles, and giving us happiness every day at age 10.

Southeast Alaska Sunrise-Mt. Juneau towers over Douglas Bridge

Sunrise over Douglas Bridge – Mt Juneau

Sunrise as Mt. Juneau (3,576 ft.; 1,090) m rises straight up from sea level to towers over Douglas Bridge.

The Mt. Juneau trail is a stiff climb, with option to follow the alpine ridgeline and descend using the Perseverance Trail (13-mile round trip).

Juneau & Douglas, Alaska were originally separate competing cities. Treadwell gold mine on Douglas Island, and the Alaska Juneau and Perseverance mines on the Juneau “mainland” (North American continent) were the largest hard rock gold mines in the world from the late 1880’s thru the first several decades of the 20th century.

The Douglas Bridge opened in 1980, replacing the first bridge (built in 1935. Juneau became Alaska’s state capitol in 1906. Juneau-Douglas unified into a single municipality in 1970.

Winter Sunrise: Gossamer cobwebs of fog rise from Gastineau Channel

Sunrise Fog-Gastineau Channel: CLICK PHOTO TO SEE VIDEO
Sunrise Fog-Gastineau Channel, Juneau, Alaska: CLICK PHOTO TO SEE VIDEO

Winter Sunrise:  Gossamer cobwebs of mist rise from Gastineau Channel, floating south in the early morning air flow. View from the Douglas Bridge, that connects downtown Juneau to Douglas Island (see previous post for more about the bridge and cities).

The sun will rise another few degrees above the horizon, then drift west to disappear behind the Douglas Island mountains to the right by noon. A cloudless winter day, minus 5 C (23 F). Froze my fingers taking this vid.

Exposed tideflats provide food for Gulls and Shorebirds, Douglas Island, Alaska

It’s low tide: along the right side of the view, Douglas Island’s exposed tideflats show as a black shadow between the sunlit water and the snow above the high tideline. Gulls and shorebirds will be feeding here among the blue mussel-kelp beds, just as they do below the Douglas Bridge.

Dark, weighty clouds in the distance nearly hide the mountains of Admiralty Island. Although the wind is light here, the thinly banded clouds between the dark bank and the blue sky look like they could be shaped by higher winds, probably coming down Taku Inlet.

Spawning Salmon Feed Birds, Animals, and Trees

Sheep Creek Estuary at low tide. Gulls feeding on chum salmon eggs
Sheep Creek Estuary at low tide. Gulls feeding on chum salmon eggs

Gulls feeding on salmon eggs and carcasses, Juneau, Alaska. Chum Salmon (aka “Dog Salmon”) and Pink Salmon (aka “Humpies”) spawning in Sheep Creek estuary. CLICK THE PHOTO BELOW TO SEE VIDEO: 10 seconds into video, a chum salmon with red and purple stripes thrashes into shallows. Past this chum salmon out in the channel, see the humped backs of pink salmon in spawning frenzy.

Gulls feeding on Chum Salmon eggs. Click image for video
Gulls feeding on Chum Salmon eggs. CLICK IMAGE FOR VIDEO

Pinks and Chums are the only two species of salmon whose fry (newly hatched young) migrate immediately back to saltwater. They become “smolt”: their bodies and metabolism change so they can live in saltwater. The young of the other 3 species (Chinook, Coho, and Sockeye) stay in streams and lakes for 1 or more years before they go out to sea.

Once in the ocean, their life histories diverge. Pink salmon spend only 1 year feeding in saltwater, migrating back into the streams as 2-year-old adults, the smallest of the salmon at 2.2 kg (4.8 lbs.). Chum Salmon remain in the ocean for 2-4 years, so return as 3 to 5-year-olds. Their longer life of feeding and growing results in weights of 4.4 to 10.0 kg (9.7 to 22.0 lbs.)

The high protein-high fat salmon and their eggs are super-foods for predators like gulls, shorebirds, bears, and humans. As they die, the nutrients from their bodies feed aquatic and terrestrial plants and invertebrates from crab to insects in the Coastal Temperate Rainforest. These are critical habitats and migratory passages that require protection from pollutants, destruction, and blockage.