The Glacier of All Glaciers
Mendenhall Glacier Travel Blog› entry 4 of 9 › view all entries
After getting a well deserved night's sleep our batteries were energized for what was going to be a long day full of adventuresome hikes, and of course picture taking at it's best with all the picturesque backgrounds that add to the experience. We had to stop at Breeze Inn (one of the best Apple Fritter places on the planet) to get what turned out to be our daily fill of mouthwatering donughts in preperation for our hikes (which really makes sense) but was definately worth the stop.
I was lucky enough to tag along with one of the most experienced tour guides and lifelong residents of Juneau before moving to Oklahoma last year (talk about culture shock) who just happens to be a really good friend and constant companion of mine. So after taking me on a tour of her old stomping grounds and reminiscing of days gone by we headed out to the Brotherhood Bridge to get my first glimpse of the massive Mendanhall Glacier in all it's splendor.
After snapping tons of pictures through the rain, taking advantage of one of the best hot spots to get pictures and catching up with old friends we headed toward the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, tucked away in plush setting of the Tongass National Forest for my first up close and personal encounter.
After parking in front of the visitor's center we casually walked the many small scenic trails checking for Salmon that run in the creeks, and hoping to stumble upon some bears (what are we thinking) that might be enjoying their Salmon filled breakfast (even more scary) before the hoards of picture taking tourists invade their quiet domain.
Unfortunately for us the Salmon were running late this year and were just starting to make their way upstream when we arrived. Nevertheless seeing the faint red silhouettes of the first salmon trying to fight their way over the beaver dams making ripples in the surprisingly calm waters were enough to calm even the most frailest of nerves. Luckily for us the rain moved out and the sun decided to briefly peek through the clouds allowing us to get some great reflection pictures of the forest not to mention rock formations that cascade down enveloping the tranquil settings of the park.
After taking in the splendor of the morning, we decided that it was time to get serious and venture out to Perseverance Trail, to take pictures of old mining remains that were left behind. The trail follows the path of the railways, roads, and foot paths that took the miners to their gold. Perseverance Trail was also known as being the first road in Juneau during the time of the Gold rush. After paring the car we headed down the trail to the mining museum that was nestled away in yet another plush forest of towering green Sitka Spruce. You can still catch glimpses of people scouring the creek beds panning for gold (which now apparently involves rubber gloves and plastic plates) in hopes of possibly finding the mother load that might have been overlooked by professional miners (tongue in cheek) that made Alaska what it is today.
After a quick glimpse of present day gold miners it was upward and onward starting our two hour one way trip up the trail which started out passing by an old boarded up entrance to the original mine (complete with electronic security alarms).The combination of construction to widen the trail along with earlier rains made the trail a muddy mess in spots, but for the most part it was a pleasant climb thanks to the graveled path up the side of the mountain. The main obstacles up the mountain were the steady stream of people taking advantage of the partly cloudy (but not rainy) weather which has forced people indoors for most of the year. The first thing that I did notice early on in the trip was that one of the prerequisites for being a resident of Juneau is the fact that you must own either a dog (and BIG ones at that. Little ones just become appetizers for the bears, and can't keep up on the hikes) or a boat or preferably both, with the ratio of dogs being two to one.