As the month came to an end, so did our time in Alaska. We had booked a ferry from Haines, Alaska for the end of the month that would make a stop in Juneau and land us in Prince Rupert, Canada. This would cut out a nice chunk of the driving and allow us to see the Alaskan coast, rather than the same Canadian highway we had just experienced the month before. I have to admit, as sad as we were to leave Alaska, we were super excited to spend a couple days on a ferry searching for whales and enjoying the last few mountain ranges in Alaska.
Haines is known as the Adventure Capital of Alaska and is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful towns we had come to. The town was nestled up to snowy with peaks on a bay that looked across to more beautiful mountain tops. We spent the two days we had there enjoying fresh caught salmon, bear watching, and ocean side views.
Once the ferry arrived, we drove our car and camper aboard, and found a spot on the outside deck to enjoy the sunset cruise to Juneau. Luckily, this boat ride was only a few hours and set sail around 8 PM so we were able to enjoy another late night Alaskan sunset.
We arrived in Juneau in the dark...yeah the dark. It had been over a month since we had seen the sun set below the horizon and we were quickly reminded how tough it is to not have 24 hours of day light. Were our head lights always this dark? How did people see the roads this late at night? We were begging for the mid night sun to come back already!
Juneau is notoriously one of the rainiest places in North America, but we seemed to hit the town just right. We awoke on our first day to clear blue skies and warm weather. We decided we wouldn't waste the weather and set off for a day of ice climbing on the Mendenhall Glacier in the middle of town.
After 2 days in Juneau, we boarded the Ferry ready for our 3 days boat ride to Prince Rupert. Unfortunately our good weather streak had seemed to run its course and we spent the majority of the 3 days sailing in the rain as we made stops in Wrangell and Ketchican.
Once in Prince Rupert we made way for Squamish, Canada for some climbing. After a day there we decided to make the push for Seattle to enjoy the 4th of July in the States!
Our plan was to make it to Seattle where we would meet up with our friend Matt to bag some volcano peaks like Mount Rainier and Baker. We had been out to Washington the previous summer in hopes to climb these mountains, but had been weathered out, so we returned this year, determined to reach the summit.
When Matt arrived we were still waiting for the weather to clear on the big mountains. So instead of climbing some bigger peaks we opted for some multi pitch climbing near Seattle. We headed north and decided to take on The Tooth, which ended up being a fun climb to practice our trad climbing skills on.
Finally, we got our first weather window for Mount Rainier so we packed our bags, stocked up on snacks, and headed for Paradise. We started the hike up to Camp Muir early this year so we could make it in plenty of time to set up camp and relax before our 11 PM alarms went off.
We ate dinner in the daylight and retreated to our tents to try and get a nap in before it was time to climb. As our alarms went off we stumbled around in the dark, gathering our gear and choking down some breakfast to fuel up for the climb.
We were climbing by midnight and ended up reaching the summit by 8 AM with clear skies and cold winds. The winds in fact were so cold that we climbed most of the morning in our parkas...so you know it was chilly. We came down off the summit in a hurry to pack up camp. The sun was shining strong and bright from 14,000 feet so we were beyond ready to make it to some shade. After getting camp back into our backpacks we started the hike back down to Paradise. Well, hike for Matt and Megan. Chris had gotten a trash bag from some other climbers up at camp and was able to zip on down the mountain by glisading over a mile until he reached the less steep snow fields.
After ascending and then turning around and descending almost 9,000 vertical feet in 32 hours we were ready for a couple rest days as we waited for the weather to clear on Mount Baker. Unfortunately as we watched it and Matt's time in Seattle was running short we didn't see a weather window coming our way to climb. We decided that instead we would use his remaining couple days in Olympic National Park. We hoped on the ferry towards Port Angeles and spent a couple days climbing some smaller peaks like Mount Angeles in the Park.
We finally made it back to Seattle, sad that it was already time to say goodbye to Matt, especially since the weather looked like it was clearing on Mount Baker up north. Since the weather was looking up, we decided we would return to Mount Baker just the two of us.
--Up Next....Our climb of Mount Baker--