Exploring Mendenhall Glacier

This morning we decided to take the tour to Mendenhall Glacier, the one locals refer to as the “drive up glacier” since it is so close to town. It is fed by the 1500 square mile Juneau Icefield, which is a remnant of the last ice age. Stretching nearly 13 miles across, it is flanked by Mendenhall Lake and rainforest wilderness.
We had left the ship at 9:00 AM and the trip out took about 30 minutes, but we were still well ahead of the cruise ship crowds and spent a little time in the Visitor Center before setting off on a walk through the Trail of Time.

It was another rainy and foggy day as we looked over the glacier and Mendenhall Lake

Hikers standing under the waterfall after kayaking across the lake

Pink mushrooms

More vegetation – I think this is Devil’s Club

We saw several stone markers indicating the height of the ice over several years, as well as a rock with holes drilled in it as a means of getting water from the streams.

The trail was very well marked and about 1.5 miles long. We had only about an hour before re-grouping and still wanted to go to the “picture point” so decided to take a small shortcut listed on one of the signs. Walking downhill we could hear the gurgle of a stream and came across a small bridge where a couple of people were standing. Looking down into the water we remarked at all the red salmon swimming. I looked a little further when I saw movement and there was a small black bear, looking for food. One of the men on the bridge was a park ranger who radioed in that he had a bear in sight. The BBC was here filming for a few days. The female was very casual and glanced up at us only for a moment before continuing to slap at the water in a vain attempt to catch a fish.

The bear crossed under the bridge and we followed her until she headed for the path to cross to the other side. That’s when we decided to continue moving back to the trail. The most interesting thing to me, besides the bear, was all the vegetation in this rainforest as well as some of the rock formations.

Another view of the glacier

We arrived back at the Visitor Center in plenty of time to meet the group and we walked down to the “picture point” for a few more shots.
Another great outing and then it was back to the ship for a quick lunch before meeting again for the seaplane trip to Taku Glacier Lodge.

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