On Wednesday, my family, friends and I decided to spend the morning hiking DuPont Trail. It’s the first hike my family ever did together when we moved to Alaska in 2008. It’s a short but rewarding trek. (Although my family didn’t think so back then. We were expecting snacks and a hotel at the end.)
My dad is in town. He grew up in Juneau and loves Alaska. He’s been a businessman for most of my life. The older I get, the more I realize my father is just a boy who left the forest to start a family.
The sun broke through the clouds as we left the house for the trailhead at the end of Thane Road. It is 1.7 miles from beginning to end, and overall pretty flat. The trail is often muddy during the summer, but today in the low 30s it was harder, without much snow. Just about the perfect day for a morning hike.
DuPont was the storage facility for explosives used in the excavation of the Alaska Juneau Mine. The story I’ve heard is that the amount of explosives was quite large, and the mine company was obliged to store it out of the city. There was reportedly so much dynamite that an accidental detonation would have leveled all of downtown Juneau. The name DuPont comes from the DuPont powder company (now Dow Dupont), the manufacturer of the explosives.
All that remains of the facility is a portion of the wooden dock and several cement foundation structures. Many fishermen and families hike the trail in the summer, but our group was alone on the path Wednesday. We had an extra Juneau moment when we ran into my friend Claire who was just out enjoying the sunshine — she joined us for most of the hike.
In the old-growth forest, Spruce trees swayed and creaked with the gusts of wind coming off Gastineau Channel. Often, the snow kicked up and swirled down from the trees to wrap around us and gently chill our faces and necks, before releasing and offering up still air and relative warmth.
Unlike the very first DuPont hike back in 2008, we had snacks! No donut holes this trip, but my dad made me two burritos, one to eat and one to carry out. That, backed up with Easter eggs chocolates.
A small flock of resident ducks floated around the pilings of the old dock, feasting on some tasty treats below the waters surface. And pigeons. Why pigeons? I thought they were rats with wings, living downtown. But no, DuPont has resident pigeons, building nests in the pilings, buffeted by the wind as they transported all kinds of odd nest materials from the beach to the dock.
Easy trail, morning out and back, bright sun. Perfect Juneau day to start off spring!
• California-born Alaska-bred, Gabe Donohoe has taken photos daily for the past five years. He is currently a student of the University of Alaska Southeast’s Outdoor Studies program. His photo archives can be seen on www.gabedonohoe.com.