We started our trip at the Mendenhall Glacier, which has to be the most visited site in Juneau. It's pretty awesome. Even though the pictures don't really show it, that glacier is 700 feet high and half a mile across. I didn't really believe that until later when we were able to kayak closer to it. More on that later.
|It's not fall yet!|
|Om. nom. nom.|
Speaking of wildlife (again), Juneau has a crap ton (that's an official measurement, btw) of bald eagles. Like 30,000+ or something ridiculous like that. They are seriously everywhere. It was fun to see them in flight. They were also big fans of the salmon.
Juneau is also home to the Tongass National Forest which is the world's largest temperate rainforest. It's around 17 million acres. Huge!
We also did a whale watching tour. I was realllllly hoping to see some Orca whales but we didn't have any luck with that. We did see a bunch of humpback whales. They are always fun to see.
We did luck out and get ONE day of sunny weather. It was beautiful! It was incredible to see all the different mountain ranges that had been hiding behind the clouds and fog. We made sure to make the most of that day by kayaking and hiking. The pictures are lower down (they didn't upload in order and blogger is a pain).
We also rode the Mount Roberts Tramway up to the top of one of Juneau's mountains and were able to see Juneau from above. It was awesome to be able to see the Gastineau Channel from above. It really is such a pretty area; it's just too bad the weather is so rainy. I'd go crazy living there! This girl needs her sun.
And of course, all visitors must do the Tracy Arm tour if they are visiting Juneau. It's pricey but well worth the money. The Tracy Arm fjord was carved by a mile high (!) glacier and there are still many glacier remnants along the way. The water is absolutely beautiful.
There are also glaciers, if you are in to that sort of thing...
The fjord seriously has hundreds and hundreds of waterfalls. I'm pretty sure they have more than Hawaii. Each one was unique and beautiful. My favorite, however, was definitely this cascading one:
Nature really is awesome.
|This is what freedom looks like. Or something.|
|Jett joined us for that too!|
|Bald Eagle at the Tramway|
|Tramway--can you find the cruise ship?|
|Tracy Arm Fjord|
|...which I am. Duh!|
|I want one.|
Another thing that I LOVED about Alaska is the crazy amount of wildflowers they have. There are so many flowers in bloom there! My particular favorite was definitely the fireweed. It was everywhere and so bright and colorful. Absolutely gorgeous!
Did I mention that we also went rafting down a river while in Juneau? Check out the fog on the lake behind us in this photo:
It was so eerie and so awesome. There were some impressive rapids as well! Unfortunately, I don't have any photos from the ride because it was raining so dang hard I didn't want to risk ruining a camera. Oh well--I have it in my memory bank! :)
And now we get to my favorite part of the trip--kayaking to and hiking the glacier. Absolutely incredible, and probably my favorite thing I've done on a trip ever.
I was nervous about kayaking because the lake is only 34(!!!) degrees and kayaks are notoriously tipsy. However, we sucked it up and paddled away to the glacier. It must have been at least a mile or two across the lake to actually get to the glacier, but it was well worth the effort.
And remember how I said that the glacier is much bigger than you think it is? Here's some proof:
Once we reached the glacier, we parked our kayaks and hiked on the glacier up to some glacier caves. I'm not going to lie--it was super sketchy. The glacier is really active and calving fairly frequently. Additionally, it was a sunny day so water was flowing down and through the glacier like crazy. We crossed many sections where the ice was hollowed out and there was a good risk of falling through an unseen crevasse. I was totally freaked. However, I had seen photos of where we were headed and for me the risk was worth it.
|Find the people. Yep. It's a massive chunk of ice.|
I am SO glad I sucked it up and took the risk. I can't even describe how amazing this place is in real life:
The cave continues on for about 50 yards or so until the water drops and it becomes too difficult to hike through. The water is fast and swift. It also leaves a creepy mist in the cave which you can kind of see in the background of that photo. Pictures still don't do the place justice though. If you are up for a risk, I definitely recommend going to this hike. Be warned though--it is super dangerous!
You can see in the photo above some blue streaks on the glacier--that is the running water I was talking about. So sketchy!
Still awesome though...
So yeah...those are my adventures in Alaska! Do you think I'm crazy for hiking to the glacier caves? I think I am, but I'm so glad I did. Have any of you ever done something similar? Tell me about it in the comments!
|On the glacier on our way out.|
|Nugget Falls in the background|