Tuesday, 5 September 2017 – Juneau, Alaska – Day 10

Tuesday, 5 September 2017 – Juneau, Alaska (Day 10)

We cruised during the night and sailed into the Gastineau Channel. At  7.15am we arrived in Juneau, the capital of Alaska  founded during a gold rush in 1880.  It is the home of the Tlingit tribe. Juneau is deep within the northern reaches of the Inside Passage and is accessible only by air or sea.  Juneau is nestled at the foot of Mt. Juneau in the Alaska Panhandle – it faces the water from the mainland side of Gastineau Channel.  The current population of Juneau is approximately 32,000 and their economy is based on government, tourism, mining and fishing.

Juneau

 

Juneau

After breakfast and after our ship had been cleared by local authorities, Lynda and I spent some time visiting some jewellery stores and collected some freebies offered by some of the merchants.  This was a way of seeing whether we would purchase their wares.  Was fun trying on some of the very expensive and beautiful necklaces.

Expensive necklace on Lynda

We didn’t have a lot of time as we booked our excursion with the huskies.

After a short bus ride to the rainforest, we met Robert Redington, our musher and his team of 16 sled huskies and 6 of us climbed into a custom designed wheeled summertime sled and set off through the lush rainforest at an almighty pace.

Lynda and I enjoying our sled ride

The dogs negotiated the left and right handed corners with such speed Lynda and I thought the sled may have overturned.  We had a couple of stops along the way to give the dogs a breather and to pat them. We then went onto our next stop at a suspension bridge over Fish Creek.

Lynda and I on suspension creek

We then heard some information by Gareth about the Alaskan equipment, dog care, training and efforts required by this sport and special mention was given to Robert’s grandfather, Joe Redington (born 1 February 1917)  is best known as the “Father of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race” for his work promoting the race. It is a gruelling long distance sled dog race run annually  on the first Saturday of March each year from the Anchorage area to Nome.  2017 saw the 45th event and about 70 participants take place. The race has drawn attention to the role dogs played in Alaska’s history and around the world.  Joe has competed in 17 Iditarods from 1974 to 1997, but never placed higher than fifth. Was amazed to hear that he finished 5th place at the age of 72.  He was the honorary musher in the 1997 race, as he was 80 years old when he completed the race. Joe also organised and ran 5 Iditarod Challenges, a guided trip to Nome for paying clients, 1993-1997.  Joe died on 24 June 1999 from cancer and was buried in his favourite dog sled in Wasilla, Alaska.  What an incredible man!!!! Robert has signed up for the 2018 Iditarod race and we wished him well.

Plaque of Joe Redington

Our exciting and exhilarating sled ride ended at a refreshment stop and to see and cuddle some 6 week old little puppies.  So cute but they wouldn’t let us take any with us. We were then driven back to main town Juneau.  Lynda and I had some lunch while we waited for Lynda’s Steve to arrive and then I said goodbye and went at 2.15pm and joined a group for my next excursion.

We boarded a bus and had a short drive down town of Juneau before we headed over to Douglas Island and had a photo stop at Homestead Park looking over towards where our ship was berthed.  Laurie was our guide.

At Homestead Park Lookout

It was then onto the Goldbelt Mount Roberts Tramway (cable car) for a very smooth 1800 foot ascent and see wonderful views of Juneau, Douglas Island, Gastineau Channel and the Chilkat Mountains.

After some of the group did a short trek, we went into a lovely little Tea House where we sampled three varieties of tea and tasted the accompanying home made jellies on crackers.  Before we left, Laurie mentioned that a 13yr old Benny Benson (October 12, 1913 – July 2, 1972) won a contest in 1927 when he  designed the flag of Alaska.  Alaska became the 49th state of USA in 1959.  Laurie then very proudly sang a song about Alaska’s flag before we then said goodbye to her as that was the end of the tour.  As there was quite a long queue for the tram, I did not linger up on the mountain but made my way down and spent some time in some of the stores in the town before it was time to join the ship.

After doing some last minute souvenir shopping, I was quite exhausted when I got into my cabin.  I took something to eat back to my room tonight.  We slipped out of Juneau at about 8.00pm.  This was a fabulous day – doing the sled ride with the huskies was thoroughly enjoyable and something I probably will never be able to do again.

 

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