When we arrived in Juneau, we were continuing on our misty cloudy days. It was damp and cool but really not uncomfortable at all. Juneau…you can only get into and out of Juneau by boat or plane. Who knew?? When we first pulled in I could not believe how many boats there were. After learning about the only way in and out, it makes perfect sense!
We were originally planning to take a helicopter to Mendenhall Glacier on this day, but the fog was way too low for the ‘copters to fly so we wound up taking a bus to the glacier but we would no longer be able to stand on it. Sigh. First, we trammed out way up to Mt. Roberts!
We measured our wing spans, saw eagles, watched a totem be carved, and learned about the signs that are carved in the trees around the area. The particular native sign on the tree below asks viewers to stop and find the reason why this place is so special.
After Mt. Roberts we boarded a bus to head to Mendenhall! This was a must-see stop! Juneau is the governmental capital of Alaska although there is rumors amongst the locals that they may transfer this back to Anchorage. There is fear by the people of Juneau because it may then ruin the city of Juneau if most of their population leaves town.
Mendenhall Glacier is currently retreating and it was about 60 degrees when we were there. It was such a beautiful place!
This post may require grabbing a cup of coffee. There will be a lot of images and each one is worthy of a significant amount of your time. This place is beyond words and each word I type shows me how insignificant language is for this hallowed place. If I had seen this place as a child, I would be working there as a Ranger protecting it with a ferocious passion. Here we go…
Towards the end of this year I will turn 50. Therefore it’s of no surprise that I have been longing for a spiritual adventure. With family in the southwest, I had always imagined it would come somewhere on a mountain hike there or perhaps New Mexico via my artwork. Never in my life had I imagined it would take place in Alaska! Alaska….really….Alaska! I cannot recall the last time I was so “in” the moment before Glacier Bay National Park. This time I was filled with electricity. I had a narrative playing on the television in our cabin and I was hopping in and out of the balcony door like a small child jumping on the stairway gate on Christmas morning. I could not sit still! At breakfast I was anxious and eager to get back to the balcony and when looking outside it looked the mists of Avalon and the water was eerily still as it swished along our bow.
Here is the imagery that made me run back to my balcony! Something really great was coming into our view….
As we entered the park, we were treated by otters!
As we moved into the park we were treated to the vision of a sea of ice….and waterfalls….and interesting inlets. Even what looked like a very small sailboat. Imagine what an adventure THAT would be!
Something interesting I learned during this adventure was the way the Rangers take care of the park. In order for our ship to enter into Glacier Bay National Park, we had to allow park security personnel to board our ship to assure them we were ready. In order to be “ready” the ship had to stow away all disposable products. All paper napkins, straws, coffee stirrers, tissues…anything that could possibly be blown into the water area had to be put out of sight. The personnel also stayed aboard our ship until we were leaving the park and then they would transfer back on to their own boats in the water. Our ship was also guided by security boats creating invisible ropes in which we had to stay. As the ship turned into the bay, my eyes and my heart synced together in the most magical of moments. Enjoy the images….
Just when I thought it could not get any better….it did! We were idling alongside this huge glacier and everything was so very quiet. There were no voices…no motor sounds…no birds or bugs…just peace. Then out of the blue we heard a loud thunderous CRACK and I was scanning the glacier with my camera lens…it was calving!!!
As the ship continued on its journey through the park…and I was speechless and not wanting time to move forward for one moment…I just wanted to stay in this moment)…we came around to this amazing glacial cave.
Then I realized how difficult it was to show the scale of this cave…good thing there was a boat nearby!
As we left Glacier Bay National Park, we were treated to more ice in the water. I was so taken aback by these images and felt compelled to capture their shapes along with the various shades the water kept turning in the Park. The water in Alaska is so interesting. The water was constantly changing from deep blues to Caribbean aqua to minty greens to almost brown.
But all there was to see was not necessarily water. As excited as I was to see glaciers, I was also very aware of their fragility and the sadness I feel when I think they are something that may eventually leave. I believe nothing depicts the violence of the creation and extinction of this area as some of the rocks that were jutting out of the water. These images show the scarring that occurred in the development of this place.
On our way out of the park, we were again greeted by the wildlife that are so lucky to call this home!
I really did not want to leave this place! Although I know we have wonderful things planned for our stops in Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan…I could have stayed here for a lifetime.
Who hasn’t seen the photo of a glacier or a National Geographic show featuring glaciers or wondered about glaciers? They are cold and blue, but for some reason I didn’t really realize how big, cold, and blue they were! Silly, I know. While at sea we drifted (because you don’t really speedboat your way past these magnificent landmarks) by Hubbard Glacier! It’s currently an advancing glacier that is over 600′ tall!
Along with amazing colors, the most fascinating part for me was to see all the various layers within the glacial ice itself.
I have never felt so one with nature before. It was so easy to breathe and it was comforting to see these. It wasn’t exciting and I wasn’t anxious or jumping up and down. I was humbled, in awe, afraid to speak, respectful and knowing immediately that I would miss these sights as soon as I had passed them. The water around us was littered with ice chunks as well. You would have thought it was cold outside…it was chilly…but tolerable with a light jacket and sweater. The colors are simply breathtaking and the sizes of these are remarkable.
I cannot wait until we get into Glacier Bay National Park!
We boarded the train at Denali National Park and we are off to Whittier, Alaska! It is a ten hour train ride in a glass top train car. It was such a great way to travel and there was an open area on the bottom level of the car for us photography nuts…thankfully! This blog post has no funny stories really….just so many great views and colors of green!