Back in Juneau and back with Aki, I load the little dog into the car and head out to North Douglas Island. This morning’s light, but steady rain doesn’t deter us. We stop near the boat ramp where fog rising off Fritz Cove obscures the industrial buildings that dot the north section of the Mendenhall wetlands. For once, we can see the glacier snake off the Juneau ice field between coastal mountains as one could have before Joe Juneau and Richard Harris followed Chief Kowee up Gold Creek—before the mining and all that followed.
Minutes later, we walk onto the Rainforest trail and hear the voice of a tour guide educating cruise ship passengers about the old growth. We will pass three more guided groups before the walk ends. During interludes when the forest manages to swallow projected voices and camera clicks, water and bird songs dominate. “Plunk….plunk…plunk,” chant drops striking elephant-ear like skunk cabbage leaves while the varied thrush whistles.