The Treadwell Ditch Trail is a lovely and fairly easy walk through the woods on Douglas Island. There are lots of access points, including a trail that crosses our back property, but for our Tuesday hike we drove to the trail head on Blueberry Hill Rd.
We didn’t stay on the Treadwell Ditch trail long, but veered off onto the Dan Moller Trail, which leads up to the Dan Moller Cabin. Spoiler, we didn’t make it to the cabin, which is about 3 miles up and back, but we had a nice little hike through the woods on a snowy day.
When Mister was courting me, when we met at work, he asked if I liked to hike and my internal eye roll almost dislodged my brain. What a lame question. In Alaska this has all the imagination and ingenuity of asking someone in Brooklyn in 2002 if they like The Strokes. And at that time the answer would have been honestly, “not really.” But who can say “not really” to the question “do you like to hike”? (Especially in Alaska.) Walking in the woods to no purpose or destination is supposed to be one of those things everyone likes, like kittens. (I also do not enjoy the company of cats. In avoiding admitting that in public, I’ve told many a squeamish fib. “Please,” I’ve practically begged acquaintances. “Show me more pictures of your cat. And I surely hope I can come over one day and pet it.”) So I said, “Sure I like hiking,” so he wouldn’t realize I’m a sociopath.
Our first date was a snowy walk in the woods, and over the past year we’ve gone on all kinds of hikes together, up all kinds of mountains and through all kinds old mine ruins, and I have come around to the whole walking in the woods to no purpose or destination thing, to the point that I was super excited that my Christmas present from him included micro-spikes, and I was super thrilled to get us both matching hiking poles.
The Ma’am of a year ago is scratching her head in puzzlement over who I’ve become, which is one of those people who walk around the woods looking far too cheerful, in New Englandy outdoorsy gear, and HIKING POLES.
I feel now I must confess that the first time I hiked a mountain in Alaska, yea three years and some months ago, I was wearing ballet flats and capris pants.
We hiked up the trail to the Don Moller cabin for just as long as we wanted, and were awfully glad we had the hiking poles, which really do make a difference on snowy terrain. We were following not strictly the trail for a lot of it, but snow mobile tracks that had probably been laid down a day or so before by forest service. We were passed by a cross country skiier on the way up, and when we decided we were hiked out and turned around, we passed some snow shoe runners, who disabused us of our cozy assumption that we’d just had something resembling a workout.
There are few things nicer than hiking in the snow, in varied terrain, with your best pal and lover, with whom you can trudge along in companionable silence, or suddenly have a brilliant idea about finances, or start grousing about someone at work. Dog was happy to be out and about in the snow, and with the love of his life, Mister, and putting me in my place as gamma-AT-BEST-dog in the pack.
Finish it up with a cozy fire at home and some nicely aching quads and you have a perfectly lovely day.
Shopping: our (matching, naturally) microspikes are Kahtoola brand. I initially took home a size small, that contrary to the size chart information on the back, did not comfortably fit my men’s size 7 xtratufs. I returned them easily the next day to Nugget Alaskan Outfitters, a local retailer of all the things you don’t realize you need when love makes you become outdoorsy. The staff is excellent at what they do, and more than rival my REI experiences. Microspikes aren’t just great for icy conditions. There’s a lot of boardwalk in Juneau, both in the city and on trails that cross muskeg. I’ve had a few spills on slippery boards before. I have a friend who spectacularly crashed on them, but the hush money is still coming in so I can’t tell you all the gory details. Yet. I feel much more confident hiking in them.
On a sleepless night I spent more than a sane number of hours researching trekking poles, and came up with a few criteria: aluminum, rubber or foam grips, speed locks, 3 segments, light. I found this website helpful as a start, but branched out. The selection at Nugget Alaskan Outfitters was slim, but met every single one of my requirements. Staff was very helpful with running us through the basics of how to use them. Our choice was Leki Ultralight Series. We opted out of the shock absorbing feature, though I liked the idea of that for Mister’s previous knee injuries. So far so good!