Earlier in the week the forecast for Wednesday had promised sunshine. By Tuesday night, the rain was expected to persist through Wednesday morning. Some clearing was expected Wednesday afternoon, but conditions looked marginal at best for mountain climbing. We decided to go to the Perseverance Trailhead just outside of downtown Juneau. If the weather improved, we would attempt Mount Juneau. Otherwise, we would settle for a hike up the Perseverance Trail along Gold Creek to Ebner Falls, Lurvey Falls, and some old gold mines.
The hardest rain of the week fell that night and Wednesday morning. We were staying in a hotel that night, which would be a welcome break from the rain. It had rained so much over the last two days that most of our campsite was flooded. We have a fancy tent, but no tent can stay completely dry through that much rain, particularly when it is in the middle of a puddle.
We drove into the actual city of Juneau for the first time. It is a charming place. It is the capital of Alaska, though in reality it is still just a small town. We drove through Juneau and out to the Perseverance Trailhead. There is a mining museum here, along with artifacts from some of the old gold mines. There is even a mine entrance just off the trail, but it was heavily posted with no trespassing signs. Although this all seems historic, some of the mines in the area are still active.
We started our hike late hoping that the weather would break. That didn’t work. After a brief lull, the rain resumed shortly after we left the car. We climbed a couple of switchbacks before joining an old mining road. We followed the old road as it climbed high up on the hillside above Gold Creek. We had views along here of the museum and other old mining buildings down in the valley. This stretch of trail was surprisingly busy for a rainy Wednesday. We saw lots of hikers and trail runners throughout the day.
Our first stop was at an overlook above Ebner Falls. It is an impressive waterfall on Gold Creek, which was raging after several days of rain. Unfortunately the waterfall is well below the trail, and I didn’t see a reasonable way to get down the steep slope for a closer look.
We continued up the valley, climbing steeply before leveling off next to Gold Creek. Gold Creek is a beauty, and it was a welcome companion during most of our hike. We crossed it twice on sturdy bridges before reaching a junction. At this point, a rougher trail continues ahead up Boulder Creek. That trail eventually fades away, but it is possible to hike cross country out of the valley up to the ridge east of Mount Juneau. From there, you can follow the ridge line to Mount Juneau’s summit before descending a developed trail back to the Perseverance Trail upstream from Ebner Falls. That was the hike I had intended to do, but the ridgeline above was completely fogged in. We decided to continue up Gold Creek instead.
Our backup plan wasn’t a bad consolation prize. An easy hike up the valley revealed the might Lurvey Falls tumbling down the mountain ahead of us. Ebner Falls had been nice, but this was spectacular. We continued on to where Lurvey Creek joins Gold Creek. There used to be a bridge over Lurvey Creek here, but there wasn’t much left of it. Lurvey Creek was a raging torrent, and wading it would’ve been a death wish. From there, it is a couple of miles of cascades, rapids and waterfalls to downtown Juneau and the Lynn Canal.
Instead, I followed a rough path upstream a short distance. It quickly faded away, but I was able to wade along the side of the stream to the base of Lurvey Falls. The view from here isn’t great since most of the waterfall is hidden from sight. Still, I was standing in knee deep glacial water that was maybe 40 degrees. I wasn’t leaving without photos. I made my best effort at capturing the falls before my legs went numb.
Christy and I had lunch there before starting back. We took a couple of side trips and alternate routes on the return. First we explored up a side trail that led to some mining camp ruins, including a chimney, an old stone building, and lots of scrap metal. This trail climbed a steep hill, so I eventually went ahead while Christy waited. I eventually reached a knoll with a great view of Lurvey Falls! The rain had stopped, and the snowy peaks and glaciers surrounding the valley were beginning to emerge from the fog. That was the view I’d wanted all along – it just took a roundabout route to get it.
We returned to the main trail before picking up the Red Hill Trail. This trail passes more mining ruins and forms a partial loop with the Perseverance Trail. From it, we had lots of great over the shoulder views of Lurvey Falls. We took a spur trail from it to an overlook of the AJ Glory Hole – an 800’ deep pit. From the overlook there is a neat view of the pit itself and one of the mine shafts. I had to climb over the fence and walk out onto a precarious point to get the best view though. Christy was not amused.
We returned to the main trail and the overlook of Ebner Falls. There were numerous patches of blue sky now. It wasn’t exactly sunny, but it was easily the best weather of the trip so far. Because conditions had improved, I stopped for more photos of Ebner Falls. I caught up with Christy just before reaching the car. When we arrived, we discovered that the trunk was open. Yikes! How did that happen? The trunk had been open for 6 hours in a busy parking lot. It was also full of food, and we were parked in prime bear habitat. Incredibly, nothing was missing or molested.
We spent the rest of Wednesday afternoon running errands and dealing with logistics. First, we drove into Juneau and checked in at the Juneau Hotel. I dropped Christy off along with all of our luggage. She would start on the laundry and packing while I picked up a few last minute items and returned the rental car. We had picked this hotel mainly because every room was a suite with its own kitchen and washer and dryer. We ended up staying at this hotel 3 times during the trip, so this was a huge convenience.
I drove back to the Mendenhall Valley and got a few last minute groceries and a bottle of whiskey. I turned in the rental car at the airport (late, which ended up costing us another $100 or so) and called the hotel for a shuttle. They brought me back to the hotel, and Christy and I spent the rest of the evening cooking and eating dinner and getting organized for our trip to Glacier Bay National Park. We arranged for a taxi early the next morning, and stored our excess luggage at the hotel. Although the hotel wasn’t cheap, the services they provided made it worth the money. Although it was just a basic hotel, it was a nice place with great service that fit our needs perfectly. I highly recommend the Juneau Hotel and will definitely stay there if we return to Juneau.
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