After waking up today, we slowly made our way up the hill alongside the lodge and piled onto the bright yellow school bus to begin our journey. The morning air was cool and crisp as we navigated through Juneau with the windows down, watching as downtown flew by in a flurry of color and narrow roads. It was mid-morning when we arrived at our first destination, the mining museum, which was tucked in the woods and hidden up a steep hill. Juneau used to have a major gold mine. Although the mine shut down in the 1940’s, there are still miles of tunnels winding beneath the jagged mountains. In fact, there are more mining tunnels than there are roads in the city of Juneau.
We left the museum with a better sense of the rich history that lay, seemingly invisibly, beneath our feet. Lunch time was fast approaching, so we began our ascent into the mountains that towered above our heads. It is extremely rare to be in a place of such obvious beauty, and this hike allowed us to experience that beauty with a new kind of awe. Our feet hurt and the climb left us short of breath, but every moment we looked up and gazed out at our surroundings, we found a greater purpose or intention for the day. Waterfalls ran down the rocky face of mountains like great veins and peaks struck the air dramatically. Upon reaching the waterfall for lunch, we had already found a new kind of peace. One of the best things about our lunch spot was that it was extremely loud. The waterfall allowed us time to observe its beauty, but it also allowed us to sit in our own personal silence and reflect. Most lunches, we engage in loud and excited conversation, but today we were able to sit collectively as a group and not say a single word. This was not an experience I was used to, but it proved to be very valuable.
After lunch, we made our way back down to the bus and drove to a lake for an afternoon swim. In the beginning, I was seriously considering not getting in. However, once we reached the water, I soon changed my mind. The dock was crowded with people taking advantage of the warm weather and the sun beat down harshly. Sam was the first one to jump in, and reluctantly, five of us followed him. The water was freezing, but it was completely worth it.
Later, we dried off and made our way back home to the shrine. Despite the fact that we’ve been here for less than a week, I can still call this place home. Every moment here is so precious. Every laughing fit, joke in the kitchen, or meaningful conversation is something that I will always remember. I have an abundance of things: of warm weather, beautiful hikes, and wonderful people. The sun sets and every day I have an abundance of beginnings in Alaska.
The thoughts and observations of our Journey to Adulthood pilgrims on their journey to Alaska.
Keep our kids
in your prayers: