Thursday, September 18, 2008

Photographs of fall

I set out to traverse the Juneau Ridge today but got shut down, again, by cold and clouds. I can't believe that summer is over and I haven't even hiked the full Juneau Ridge yet, let alone Observation Peak or a Blackerby-Juneau and/or Juneau-Roberts epic. It's definitely been a dud of a season as far as my mountain ambitions go. At least there were good colors today, despite the flat lighting. Autumn is actually past its peak at higher elevations. It won't be long now until snow settles in to stay.

Ebner falls, with autumn just starting to emerge at lower elevations. I mostly took this picture as an excuse to take a break during the lung-busting climb.

Ah, the city of Juneau. Next week will be the last for cruise ship visits. The first day the cruise ships stop coming is always a strange one, because the population suddenly drops sharply, the downtown shops close up all at once, and I no longer ride by tour buses full of people all staring out the window (the people on city buses never look out the window). It's a nice, quiet time of year, but there's a sadness to it, too.

The always photogenic first pitch after Mount Juneau.

As I crested the peak and started to descend the ridge, I had to fight this wild, frigid crosswind. It pushed with enough force that I felt like I was about to blow off the mountain. Based on past experiences with strong winds, I'm guessing the wind was gusting 50 to 60 mph. The temperature at 3,500 feet was maybe 40, likely high 30s, which would put the windchill at about 20-25 degrees. It felt like it! I wore only a fleece pullover, a rain jacket and no gloves, so every gust blasted me with wintry cold. I knew there was no way I was going to spend two hours traversing the ridge in that kind of wind, but I had hiked all the way up there and thought I should at least enjoy as much of the scenery as I could bear. That turned out to be 45 minutes out, and a fairly uncomfortable 45 minutes back.

I was really, really cold in this picture ...

But that was mostly because I stopped long enough to set up my camera's self timer twice. I just wanted a portrait picture with the crimson-colored tundra. This is the failed shot, because I didn't turn around in time. But now that I look at it, it turned out to be the better picture.

As expected, the clouds finally sunk below the ridge line, so it was a good thing I aborted my mission. After my Blackerby Ridge experience last month, I'm terrified of getting lost on ridges in the fog. It would be even worse to be lost when I'm already uncomfortably cold and wearing every piece of clothing I have with me. Fall is here and winter is coming, so I have to remember to prepare better every time I go outside. It's a harsh, hard time of year, but it never fails to be interesting.


  1. Awesome Jill.. thanks for the Alpine hit.

  2. You're fortunate to have such truly inspiring surroundings. Thanks for the pics.


  3. Preparation is half the fun, isn't it? At least snow can be dressed for somewhat successfully. Seems riding in the rain is fighting a losing battle, just a matter of time before your soaked inside and out.


  4. I love the pics and can see why you like living there...I'm jealous!

  5. Hey, I'll bet you can see Russia from atop that peak, am I right!

  6. Jill, I’ve been reading your blog a while now, your Iditarod story got me hooked! Sounds like you have a number of crossroads right now. I’d just want to let you know that your tenacity is inspiring. Your blogs bring enjoyment to many of us. You are intelligent and I’m sure you will figure out the work / boyfriend issues and come out ahead. Rooting for you!!!

  7. AS always, great pics. I am hoping to do a 10 mile hike just outside Anchorage tomorrow, I am sure the weather won't cooperate, but hopefully I will get some pictures, and a work out.

    Have a great weekend! Well, today anyway!

  8. Jill,

    Wonderful photos.

    I know I will never get to see Alaska in person, so I sincerely appreciate your showcasing the beauty that you find during your adventures.

    Thank you ~


  9. Beautiful pics!

    And yes, be careful. I actually had to spend a very cold night in scotland because fog suddently came in on us and we could not find out way down a moutain.


  10. Mmmmm, it's so freaking hot and humid down here in Managua that the freezing cold looks pretty awesome to me! I used to work as a tour guide on one of the smaller ships that stopped in Juneau, and I always loved those mountains.

  11. Yikes! That is cold! I can't wait for the fall weather here in Utah. It is still 85 degrees during the day.

    I bet it is nice to have your little town back when all the tourist leave. Sorry your ridge hike was short. But I don't blame you what-so-ever for leaving!

  12. Jill, I just popped on over to your blog, from Lisa's blog, and your pictures are amazing!

    I've never been to Alaska, but we were supposed to go on a cruise this summer, but it didn't work out.

    One of my favorite shows about 6 months ago with this Alaska roughing it show, where groups were dropped off all over Alaska, in the middle of nowhere, with very little resources. It was fascinating.

    Anyway, your life looks amazing, and while I'm a not a hiker, naturey type of girl, I always admire people who are.

  13. your pics and blog! (and I thought Sitka was pretty, Juneau is too!)

  14. What an awesome place. Thanks for telling us about it. Looking down into the city I suspect lung busting is an understatement.

  15. Found your blog recently. You have a nice way of expressing your thoughts, words, pics, and all.

    Very nice. Enjoy Alaska.

  16. Hi, My pugsley has just had its second birthday and it to yearns for dirt beneath its tires when there is no snow to be found. Now I cannot wait to ride in Alaska.

    Nice photos, Mickey

  17. Your pictures are amazing. I am homesick now.

  18. because i'm also a blog geek i used to have my pentax w10 waterproof, shockproof camera with me at all times. once you get an iphone it's all over.. then it's just with you no matter what and you take pictures of cats puking - check it out


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