Rain or shine, hikers explore trails

Posted: Sunday, January 27, 2008

A number of devoted Juneau hikers keep up with their pastime through Parks and Recreation Department-sponsored hikes on some of the 100 trails around town.

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Abby Lowell / Juneau Empire
Abby Lowell / Juneau Empire

The treks reveal more about the environment than most people ever get to see, said longtime participant Linda Mills.

"The average person doesn't even dream of what is out there," she said.

One outdoors buff, Carolyn Gould, began venturing out with the group 25 years ago.

The treks are adapted to the weather, and are usually not picked until the day before they depart to take advantage of the most recent weather reports, Gould said. The group's been around for 35 years, she added.

"Every Wednesday and Saturday we are out, regardless of the weather," she said.

Late last week, Gould was planning the next hike, and counting on some weekend snowfall to make for better skiing.

"If we get some good snow we may go up Spaulding Meadow at Auke Bay, or Eaglecrest," she said.

The winter hikes tend to last about four hours, she said. Summer hikes vary, but may last six to seven hours.

"The weather is never as bad as it looks from indoors," Mills said.

Last Wednesday, nine people assembled at 8:30 a.m. at the snowmobiler's parking lot and headed up the Dan Moller Trail.

Two of those along for the trip were on cross-country skis, the remainder on snowshoes.

The hikes have never lost anyone - a count is taken at the end, to make sure - and have never had any serious injuries, Gould said.

Gould has seen some excitement, however. On a recent hike along the dike in the Mendenhall Valley, she was out in front of the group, topped a rise, and came face to face with Romeo, the valley's famous black wolf, 10 feet away.

"There he was, right on the dike trail," she said.

Mills said she's been doing the hikes for year, and enjoys getting to meet the other hikers while spending time with them on the trail.

"I've made incredible, lifelong friendships," she said. "You just become dear friends with everyone you socialize with," she said.

• Contact reporterPat Forgey at 586-4816 or patrick.forgey@juneauempire.com.

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