Guest Blog written by Holly Melton.
Juneau, the state capital of Alaska is a small city with a walkable downtown. We enjoyed visiting the Juneau City Museum and lunch at the “The Hanger” for the best fish and chips – we’ll have to compare when we get to London but it will be hard to beat the fresh halibut.
I’ll admit it now – Mark was absolutely right. He told me that being up on a glacier was something not to be missed. It was spectacular – immense – awe inspiring. We were taken by helicopter up and over the lower field of the Mendenhall Glacier. (Helicopter Tour Company: North Star Trekking did a very nice job all the way through.) As we flew up we could clearly see the medial morain, a huge dirty streak down the center of glacier. We were taken up the southern arm. Then as we came back down the north arm, we could see the meeting of the two arms and the granite mountain in between that is being rubbed away by the moving ice – causing the medial morain. Look at Mark’s photo’s below – you will be easily able to see the morain.
The day’s biggest surprise: how dirty the glaciers appear. Large amounts of granite rock are being pulverized as the ice moves and it does show up
After landing and putting on crampons, we did an hour walkabout – filled our water bottles in a glacial water fall, stepped across a smaller crevice and felt the glacial silt used in creams and facials.
The sheer magnitude and power of the glacier brought to mind the words of that old hymn: “Then sings my soul, my Savior God to thee. How great Thou art; how great Thou art!”
The physical force of the glacier was awe inspiring. The next time you are near a glacier, take the opportunity to get up on in … very different from seeing it at it’s terminus.
By the way, the Mendenhall Glacier is only one of three spots in the world where a temperate rain forest, the ocean, and a glacier meet…. Pretty cool, huh!
Sights in Juneau itself: We walked over to the State Capital building – easily the least impressive of the state capital buildings I’ve seen. Someone said it’s the only state capital without a dome. To be fair they were doing construction to repair the front portico.
Across the street is the Juneau City museum with some exhibits and a good video presentation on the history of Juneau.
After our helicopter tour to the glacier, we stopped in Juneau’s favorite watering hole: The Red Dog Saloon – chock full of tourist of the cruise ships: