Docked in Juneau (Alaska’s state capitol) first thing in the morning. Passengers streamed out to meet their guides for a number of pre-booked tours. But the big attraction is the Mendenhall Glacier and we opted to visit it on our own (we had read many comments that the tours didn’t spend enough time at the glacier or the visitors center). We took a local shuttle bus and knew we made the right decision when we saw people complaining as they were hustled out of the visitors center to make their bus.
The day was overcast and cool, but that first spectacular view from the visitor’s center warmed us up quickly. We took the Nugget Falls trail to both reach the falls and get the closest view possible of the glacier itself.Looking back from the trail toward the visitor’s center you get a great view of Mendenhall Lake, created by the glacier melt.An overlook just before reaching the falls.The Nugget Falls itself is a torrent because of this year’s exceptionally heavy rainfall. The falls comes from the enormous ice field feeding the glacier. A ranger, at a talk in the visitor center, told us that as a child (and she wasn’t that old) she could walk up and touch the glacier near the point where we are standing. The message about global warming was made clearly by her personal observation…and the extensive science-based displays at the center.
The rocks pushed and carved and finally deposited by the glacier were spectacular in themselves — even more interesting as a sculptural tableau by Marsha (can you find the contemporary embellishments?).
We returned to the ship fulfilled, tired, and hungry (becoming a theme). Marsha and I stayed on board while Linda & Josh pushed back out into Juneau to get a quick evening (stays light until almost 10 pm) look at the state capital building, the city museum and the construction for a southeast Alaska native cultural center. We were all disappointed that the state museum is closed until 2016.
The Statendam pulled out of port for our overnight cruise toward Skagway.