Since I joined ships in 2013, I’ve wanted to go to Alaska. When I was finally able to go there last contract, I was not disappointed! Every Sunday from June until September I ported in Juneau. The weather was often wet and cold, and my schedule got a bit hectic, but I was still able to have some incredible experiences.
One of my favorite memories of the contract was hiking to the ice caves at Mendenhall Glacier. With just a bit of research, some friends and I found that we could take West Glacier Trail to the caves. On an overcast day early in June, I joined a group of 10 for an adventure! We took two large taxis to the base of the trail, and over the course of about two hours, made our way to the glacier. At one point, we had to use a rope to climb up a rock. At the very end, after seemingly taking a wrong turn, we had to crouch down and more or less slide down a hill.
Anytime I felt tired, I peered through the trees to look at our destination. Having never seen a glacier before, the thought that I would soon be walking not just on one, but under it, gave me the motivation to continue. The looming white mass was unlike anything I could imagine!
When we finally reached the glacier, I was awed by the blue light within. The large glacier that looked so strong and intimidating from above seemed somehow delicate from below. It was truly remarkable!
A few weeks later, my family came to visit. We opted to go to the Mendenhall Visitor Center. Our guide on the way to the center, JC, shared a multitude of information with us. I learned that the glacier moves about 2 feet per day, and that a porcupine has 30,000 quills, enough for every person in Juneau!
At the visitor center, we went to a lookout point to get a good view of the glacier. It was interesting how different it looked from across the water, rather than up close, as I had seen it just a couple weeks before! There was also a system of trails starting at the center. My mom and I explored Steep Creek Trail, where you can see salmon running in the summer, and the Trail of Time. On Steep Creek Trail, a guide pointed out a porcupine in a tree. I was surprised to see how lithe the spiky creature could be!
In August, a visiting friend and I took the tramway up Mount Roberts. The tram starts downtown, just a short walk or shuttle ride from the ship. Unsurprisingly, it is a main tourist attraction. We bought tickets early in the day, but decided to explore some other parts of the city before heading up the mountain, in hopes that the crowds would die down.
Even though it was an overcast day, the views from the top were stunning. We stopped to read about Lady Baltimore, the rescued bald eagle that lives at the visitor center. My friend was recovering from an injury, so we did not explore the system of trails starting at the center. We did, however, enjoy a leisurely stroll around the top of the mountain.
Looking back at my photos from Juneau, I am still amazed. The lush forests, majestic glaciers, and unique wildlife combine to make a magical place!