Sunday, August 22, 2010

Juneau's Natural Side - Shrine, Salmon, and Flume

Our second stop in the Juneau area was the Shrine of St. Therese, the patron saint of Alaska. The shrine is hidden in a grove of trees at the end of a small peninsula. The approach feels like something out of fairy tale, with the forest suddenly revealing a charming stone chapel.

On the way back from the Shrine, we were interested in seeing more salmon, so our cab driver Rod took us to the stream that runs by Juneau's fish hatchery. The stream was full of pink and chum salmon. Or, if you prefer, humpback and dog salmon (every Pacific salmon species has at least two names). You can see some of their backs in the photo as they work their way upstream by the gulls.

Pacific salmon die after they spawn. Their spent bodies provide a bonanza for the gulls, bald eagles, and other critters, not to mention the trees that absorb any remaining nutrients. At times, they also have a certain macabre beauty:

Once back in Juneau, our final activity to hike up from the city and then hike back down along the Gold Creek Flume Trail -- the remains of the wooden aqueduct that once supplied Juneau with water.

Sometimes it has six boards, sometimes four (photo), and sometimes only two.

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