Hiking to Granite Basin, Alaska

There are two principal ways to get to Granite Basin, and on a wonderfully warm and sunny day in early August, the Parks and Recreation Hiking Group used both of them. Nine strong hikers aimed for Mount Juneau and the Juneau Ridge; they spent 10 hours on the loop from the top of the mountain, along the ridge and down through Granite Basin. They reported seeing goats and lots of flowers, especially noting a spectacular spread of pink-flowered fireweed in the upper basin. Beyond the Chilkat Mountain Range, the mighty, snow-clad peaks of the Saint Elias range were visible in the far distance, an unusual treat on an unusually clear day.

The rest of the hikers, slightly more numerous, chose a more leisurely hike, going up the Granite Creek trail to the basin. That old avalanche that had rested over the trail for several years was finally gone completely, no doubt as a result of the warm weather punctuated by periods of heavy rains. The trail had been roughly brushed, getting the nettles out of reach of any bare legs and making it possible for hikers to see where they put their feet.

The salmon berries were ripe, and both human and ursine pickers had been busy. In the middle of the trail was the most beautiful bear scat ever. It was a very shapely heap so full of digested red salmonberries that it positively glowed in the sunlight, the red set off by smudges of blueberry and yellow salmonberry, and dotted with numerous pale yellow salmonberry seeds. Very artistic.

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