Marta Keller - My Best Skagway Adventure

Author: Marta Keller
Theme: My Best Skagway Adventure

The hike to the summit took us three hours on nature’s meandering staircase through
the tall forest. It seemed like I was catching my breath and stretching my leg muscles
every ten minutes the further we climbed. The people passing us on the trail at a swift
pace convinced me it must be a regular routine for them. It was a hot and sunny coastal
day. Droplets of sweat trickled down our faces despite the shade of the forest canopy.
Accessing the tumbling creek near the trail was welcome relief to wash our faces and
soak our hair in an attempt to cool off and energize.
Together with my hiking friend, we had an adventure-driven mission: a six mile round
trip to Upper Dewey Lake and time permitting, another two and half miles to and from
Devil’s Punchbowl, a small alpine lake.
We reached what I thought was the top, but it was only a small opening in the forest.
The expansive view of the surrounding white-capped mountains was exquisite. I took a
moment to sit on a rock, cross-legged to take in the beauty. I breathed in the fresh air
deeply, grateful for the sun’s warm rays on my face.
We continued to climb through the forest. Our destination was near and confirmed by a
couple from the southern United States we briefly stopped to chat with. Filled with a
rush of inspiration, I started to run up the remaining steps of the trail until I reached an
opening into a muskeg meadow. There was a creek with a bridge to the right leading to
a small cabin and an occupied cabin to the left.
Upper Dewey Lake greeted us with its clear, green-tinted, glacier-fed waters. The lake
was enveloped by mountains painted with verdant vegetation, snow in its hollows and
exposed rocky peaks. A quick test of the temperature of the lake with my right foot
persuaded me to stay on land. To my astonishment, my friend took the opportunity to
swim in the icy water. She explained she had developed a tolerance to cold water after
spending her childhood and adult years swimming in the Atlantic Ocean.
While she swam, my adventurous spirit called me to cross a log that led to a large rock
protruding from the lake. It was here I further marvelled at nature’s artistry, reflecting at
how fortunate we were to have this experience on one of the best summer days near
When I was ready to join my friend for lunch, the log I had so easily crossed to get to
the rock now slightly wobbled with each step I took and the shore seemed far away. I
backtracked and decided to venture through the chilly water instead of risk falling off.
Gently sliding into the lake, my eyes widened as goosebumps veiled my entire body and
I let out a small shriek. I knew the water would be cold from my earlier foot test, but I
didn’t expect it to be this intense. I reached the shore as fast as my numbing legs could
move. A long-sleeved sweater and at least 10 minutes of sitting in the full sun worked to
warm me up.
After lunch, we followed the narrow footpath up the ridge and past boulders to Devil’s
Punchbowl. The sun beat down on us with such a ferocity that despite the heat, I kept
my sweater on to avoid sunburn. The view of the mountains lining the Lynn Canal and
Skagway were magnificent and well-worth the effort.
Devil’s Punchbowl required a descent on loose rocks. Unprepared to spend the night
and knowing we had a distance to return, a cursory view from above of its greenish-grey
waters was sufficient for us.
The climb down took us half the time. The day had exceeded my expectations. My
visual, auditory and olfactory senses were overwhelmed. I smiled when we reached the
end of the trail, my heart full and serene from what I could only describe as my best
Skagway adventure.

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