Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Juneau Sites

Two highly visited sites in Juneau were our destinations today: The Mount Roberts Tram and the Mendenhall Glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier is almost 12 miles long and most visitor only see the foot from the observation deck in the visitors center or across a meadow near the highway coming out of town. Yesterday we flew over the entire glacier in a float plane including the huge Juneau Icefield that spawns the glacier. The view was amazing and seeing the sheer massive size of the glacier from beginning to end was an incredible experience. The glacier had been retreating 100-150 feet a year but in recent year the distance has increased... last year the glacier retreated 600 feet! I had visited the glacier 3 years ago and was amazed to see so much more lake and rock uncovered by the retreating ice.

The Mount Roberts Tramway offered spectacular views of Douglas Island, Gastineau Channel and the town of Juneau. I highly recommend watching the tour boat schedule and heading up accordingly to miss the masses of cruise-line visitors. Unfortunately this year produced an extremely deep snowfall and the hiking trails were all closed due to fear of avalanches. An avalanche took out the towns access to their hydro-electric power earlier this spring so everyone is in major conservation mode. I have a feeling that it would have been easy to disappear from the crowds if the trails were open. Most people never left the main visitors building, racing up the tram, snapping a few pictures and racing back down to see the rest of Juneau before they had to be back on their boat. I recommend taking your time, smelling the pine trees, feeling the wind on your face and watching the eagles and ravens soar gracefully below you. It's a truly beautiful and enchanting spot.

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