Juneau, AK has amazing variety of trip options from the safe and easy to multi-day adventure. Last summer we completed the cross-Admiralty trip over 5 days and it was a blast. We were able to throw in some local runs and hikes on either side of our trip so the packing was interesting, accounting for a variety adventures and weather conditions. Luckily we had clear skies for a few days which always lifts our spirits. Looking back, we packed well for the trip, we stayed warm and dry, even comfortable. Our planes departed and then arrived on time, and we never got lost!
Juneau is unfortunately known for rain, it gets an average yearly rainfall of 62 inches. Rather than big rain storms, the rain is spread out over days, weeks or months. Watching cold/wet tourists dressed in plastic bags scuttle from cruise ship to tour bus is local amusement. Knowing weather patterns such as dry seasons and rainy seasons is important no matter where you go. Juneau is usually pretty nice in May and June which is when we decided to book our trip. July and August are often rainy, and other months are not recommended for good adventuring! Regardless, don’t take anything for granted and pack ready for surprises. Despite our nice weather, this is a temperate rainforest and 2022 was a record-breaking year for rain in Juneau.
Being a coastal community, Juneau has excellent float plane access. If you get a chance there are many fun trips that involve a short ride, as little as 30 minutes, sometimes up to 90. You get excellent views and a unique perspective of the terrain from about 1000 feet off the ground. Flights do book up in advance, so plan at least several months ahead of time. The plane operators are generally very competent and willing to share their knowledge of the surrounding geography if you have any questions. There are many tales of plane crashes and some of us even have friends that have had catastrophic consequences; The larger outfits however are quite reliable and know when to call bad weather and cancel for the day. Landing on water is fun too if not a little unnerving at times. On this trip we landed on one float during a banked turn into the bay, the other setting down several seconds after the first. That was a new one for me.
Crossing Admiralty island is a leisurely walk and paddle with a fun history. Trails date back nearly a century and you can still see some of the logs that were laid by the Civilian Conservation Corp to set the trails. Fallen trees are frequent along the hike requiring maneuvering over, around, or under the massive conifers. This is punctuated by lake crossings that we managed in our packrafts. Back in the day there were tour operators that would shuttle canoes from one side of the lake to another but those days seem to have passed. Thanks to advanced planning we did secure a cabin halfway through which greatly improved our comfort level. The forest service cabins (this is located in the Tongass National Forest) are typically well-maintained, functional, and clean. Some of the older cabins are a little iffy and might have mice though.
One particularly bad section of trail was flooded several years ago by a beaver dam. We struggled to find a way past the newly formed bog but found a log to cross that had been set up with a rope indicating this was not a new situation. When we still couldn’t find the trail we consulted Avenza Maps with our planned trip already plotted; trail was right there, just a few hundred feet away through thick blueberry bushes.
I have to thank Alpine Fit for keeping our crew warm and comfortable. The baselayer tops and bottoms held up to the bushwacking, kept us warm while packrafting, never have odor problems, and are super comfortable.
Overall it was a very successful trip because of excellent trip research and planning, we packed well for the weather, and we were ready for the unforeseen. The weather cooperated for much of the trip despite a day or two of rain. The cabins were an awesome respite. No punctures in our rafts be we were ready for that too. This was a 5-star trip, one I would definitely do again.