This past weekend, my friend Zach Gianotti was back in town for a summer visit, which means I had new company for this week’s adventure.
When we were deciding where to go, we realized it couldn’t be done without looking at a map. We pointed at a bunch of really great hikes around town, but they weren’t completely practical to start at 4 p.m.
“What about Cropley Lake? Haven’t been there in a while.”
It was partly sunny that Sunday, and I was wearing everyday regular cotton clothes, because cotton is the best. No XtraTufs, no rainproof shell, no snacks. Just a camera with a freshly formatted memory card. I was really surprised I’d never been there for how accessible it is.
Cropley Lake is a super quick hike up the Logjam slope from the Eaglecrest Ski Area parking lot. There’s probably a trail but we couldn’t find it. It’s a semisteep walk through wet marsh and some mud. Just follow your magic Jack Sparrow compass and you’ll get there in no time.
Cropley Lake is named after Isaac Cropley, a Juneau miner who died in 1913. In 1975 the Juneau Lions Club built the original trail from Eaglecrest to the lake. It is the source for Fish Creek. It is fed by a few streams but seemingly the largest is one on the Southwest corner that sounds like a distant waterfall. There just might be another adventure back there in the near future.
Down the stream coming out of the lake you can find an uncared-for cabin used to house what looks like a pump system. It’s how Eaglecrest gets its water to create extra snow in the winter.
I love the colors out here. The fast moving clouds above act like a disco ball beaming light on the mountain face. All the tiny flowers that live around Southeast adding texture to the green.
I wonder, is Cropley Lake the largest body of water on Douglas?
The environment in our figurative backyard is just amazing. I am told that the trees around the lake are up to 400 years old, which is odd, considering they are small.
After walking around the whole thing we decided it was time for some pizza.
• California-born and 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. “Rainforest Photos” photo blog publishes every other Friday in the Empire’s Outdoors section.