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Alaskan Glaciers

July 22nd, 2010

On our trip to Juneau, we had the good fortune to see several glaciers for the very first time. The most famous glacier in Juneau is the Mendenhall Glacier, which the Forest Service maintains several trails to, as well as, a visitor center.

Mendenhall Glacier

We hiked the trail to the glacier, passing a tremendous waterfall, Nugget Falls, and were able to get within 50 yards of the ice block. We were told that the Mendenhall Glacier has been receding for many years, where several decades ago we would have been able to touch it from where we were standing.

Mendenhall Glacier

Huge blocks of ice drifted slowly through the water away from the glacier, gradually melting away into the channel. The range of color from bright white to dark blue was amazing, with the darkest colors being where the most recent chunk of ice separated from the larger mass.

Ice Drift from Mendenhall Glacier

Later in the week we got to see the same glacier in the distance over a field of purple fire-weed. Fire-weed flowers from the bottom up, and the locals told us that they know summer is almost over once the top of the plant is flowering.

Glacier in Background

On a short boat excursion we passed by Herbert Glacier (below), which was quite impressive. This glacier is part of the same Juneau Icefield as the Mendenhall Glacer, with the Mendenhall on the west side of the icefield, and Herbert north of that.

Herbert Glacier

Someday I would love to revisit the Juneau Icefield, and actually hike up to and onto the glacier to explore the various ice caves and habitat. Comments welcome!

2 Responses to “Alaskan Glaciers”

  1. Alli Says:

    Next time you come we will make a plan to do Observation Peak. It is an amazing mountain, it is back behind Mt. Juneau, between Mt. Juneau and Blackerby Ridge (behind Costco). You can see a ton of the icefield from up there with the right weather. It took us 13 hours of hiking when I climbed it before but now I know a new (longer) route. I’m planning to try the new route sometime this year (probably in September) and I’ll let you know how long it takes me.

  2. Lolly Says:

    One of my Twitter/Flickr friends described glaciers as “humbling”. I thought that was a good word for the experience. These photos blew me away, hon. HDR is worth the time – stunning work. I want to frame these for our house.

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