Just one bear remains tonight. Loud as can be, he growls throughout the night, an irregular cycle of noise. When I fall asleep, I shall join him in his nocturne song, snoring loud and shaking the room.
As we entered the hostel yesterday, rule number one was abruptly displayed before our faces. No shoes were allowed. Slipping them off and placing them in one of the many small shelves on the wall, we walked through the room of smell. Dropping our bags, we were relieved to book our night. 10$ and with one chore to do… there is no beating it.
A 9am to 5 pm lock out is another of many rules throughout the establishment. Granted a house full of rules and regulations is annoying, it was also clean and well maintained. So we grabbed the cameras and set out for some fun. We combed the small town looking for a guided tour of the glacier. Needing crampons and various other gear for safety reasons, a tour in theory should be relatively expensive. Knowing this, we still gave it a shot and tried to find a deal.
We couldn’t justify the prices they were demanding for these glacial walks. Some would drop you off by helicopter while others guide you up a trail that is free to enter, easily charging 270$+. Really no reason Dirk and I needed to dish out money, the little we have, for something we could do on our own. Just as we agreed to the West Glacial trail, we realized our packs were locked in the hostel and we would have to pursue this mission tomorrow. A combination of anticipation and annoyance led me to be pissed off about the turn of events. As I looked up, I could see patches of blue sky and knew weather like that was rare for Juneau. The rainy season, we found our chances of a good day tomorrow to be slim.
Stumbling into the Alaskan state museum, I spent hours walking around the exhibition. The most interesting information and displays were on the native people that called this land home long before we set eyes on it. The survival story was incredible for such a harsh region. Kayaks crafted out of wood and lined with hide. Rain coats and parkas made of animal gut. Things seemingly impossible for a modern person to think of, resources utilized to the fullest. I passed up everything else, no need to waste my time with knowing what settlers killed off all the natives or looking at the entire wall dedicated to sarah pallen. Keeping her name either wrong or lower case, I have no respect for an ignorant puppet. It wasn’t until I made it upstairs I began to enjoy the art once more. Photography covered a number of walls and that is were I remained until I couldn’t comprehend anymore.
Stopping at the only known grocery store in town soon after, the thought was to grab a cheap meal and save some cash. Being warned about the increased price in food and goods the further north we traveled, I was not prepared for what I saw. A regular bag of Lays potato chips, 6.89$. A gallon of milk, 6.99$. Bread loaf, 4.49$. My hunger was scared away, my wallet unwilling to open. I got out of there with a premade dish of rice, vegetables and pork stew, all within their own separate containers. With a 1.89$ two liter cola and our empty rice containers as cups, we successfuly stuffed our faces on 7$ worth of food.
Hours of wandering, later we found ourselves hiking a trail up a steep mountain side. With only our thin mesh trail-running shoes, we navigated the mud and climbed the switchbacks. Avoiding the mud and water, we managed to keep our swamp shoes from looking like their name, remembering we would need to place them on the shelves of the hostel’s smelly room later.
It was fun. Remembering the days I would drag my dad to hike the trails in Hawaii, I laughed to myself as I saw the switchbacks. As I would run down them, my dad would follow sounding like a rhino. Feet stomping and increasing in speed, I had all the motivation to keep running or be run over.
Enjoying the time, I forgot about the bigger hike tomorrow and the glacier I so wanted to see. We made it to the top and caught a ride by the cable car down. Returning to the hostel, I prepared some pasta, my specialty. The night growing old, I jumped in my bunk and rested my mind. Only the three of us remain in the room. Dirk, the grizzly man-bear and I.