Saturday, 9 July 2016

Golden Circle: Haines, Alaska

The second leg of the Golden Circle route started in Haines, Alaska.  We took the car ferry from Skagway down the fjord to Haines, enjoying the scenic trip with mountains on both sides.  As you can see below, Haines was stunningly situated, on a slight incline at the foot of the glacial mountains.  It has no cute buildings but I prefer it to Skagway.  We stayed 4 nights in a unique old house (at Fort Seward Condos) with a very welcoming hostess who offered us cocktails on our arrival.  Haines turned out to be one of the most memorable part of this trip - mainly because of the spectacular views at the end of our gruelling hike up Mt. Riley.

The Mt. Riley trail, listed as a 2-4 hour hike, was supposed to be a moderate trail - and it was, for the young and energetic.  As expected, it took us 4 hours just to get to the top and this was with many photo breaks and snack breaks in between.  The tree roots along the greater part of the trail made it somewhat treacherous for older limbs.  But when we got to the top, it was a triumph and a dream fulfilled, for me, at least.  I had always wanted to do a hike that will take me to a place at the top surrounded by mountains.  This was it - when we got to the top of Mt. Riley, a mere 2,000 ft, we got the most breathtaking view in our lives - a 360 degree view of the surrounding mountains.   We were all dumbfounded, even the young people who had experienced many climbs in the Rockies and the British Columbia mountains.  There were no words to express ourselves, and I don't think I need any here.  Take a look for yourself...

Car ferry down the fjord to Haines
The approach to Haines
Haines at the foot of the mountains.  Our house was right in front of that patch of green in the middle - the former Fort Seward barracks.
Beautiful spring flowers along the trail


Lush rain forest



After the initial stroll through the magical rain forest, a long series of fairly steep switchbacks took us up to some marshland near the top.  Finally we saw a sign that told us we were just a half mile to summit - what an energy booster!   A boardwalk took us over the marsh to the forest on the other side that led us to the summit.

I was so excited when I saw this mountain top - it gave us the first inkling of what we were going to see

And we're there - surrounded by miles of white peaks!


This is a panorama taken at the top of Mt. Riley going from the Chilkat river on the west side of Haines all the way to the east side with the Chilkoot inlet and its surrounding mountains.  I thought I had died and gone to heaven...

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