Ben Stewart Peak
By: Wynne Benti
We drove over to Douglas Island from Juneau to the only ski resort on the island. From lifts at resort, we crossed meadows bordered by dense forests on either side. We met up with a water pipeline - which we followed, sometimes walking on top of the pipe to pass over boggy meadows full of alpine flowers. Our friends reminded us to talk loudly to scare off bears, though there were no grizzlies to be concerned about. Came to a small lake. To the west of the lake, climbed a steep talus and scree-filled gully to a saddle which looked out onto Admiralty Island and the coastal islands to the west. Forested islands rising up from the sea across the horizon. The forests carpeted each island without a road break from their highpoints to the ocean.
We walked across the crystalline rock of the humpbacked ridge and followed it for awhile to a drop off which required some fancy footwork and careful ambling over steep lichen-covered granite walls, to a series of slippery ledges. Had to find a route down, too sheer to look over the edge. Got down to a gully, then climbed about 500 feet, fairly steep, requiring some gripping. Reminded me of the high desert peaks when we gained the next ridge - scree topped ridges above tree line with incredible views in every direction. Sat down for a moment. Forested islands as far as we could see, void of any human life, save for a remote Native American village, somewhere unseen. It's untouched, visited only by a float plane every once in awhile. We don't have forests as vast and spared from the chainsaw. Only when you see this, can you understand the damage caused by the timber industry. The summit is like a dream - craggy spires, blue sea and dark forests in every direction.
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