Sunday, June 20, 2010

Alaska Cruise - Juneau

After leaving Glacier Bay, we sailed through the night and woke up in Juneau. The first thing we did there was to take a tour out to the Mendenhall Glacier. This is carving out a freshwater lake as it retreats, Mendenhall Lake. Contributing to the decay of the glacier is a river running under it and breaking through at the bottom right hand corner. There are other tributaries to the lake as well. This picture is from a photo lookout point a short distance from the visitor center.

A close up of the glacier face, showing the characteristic blue colors and the waterfalls.

Our next stop was Glacier Gardens, site of a large mudslide in the 80s. The mud covered the highway below, and when crews pushed it all back up the hill, it must have been quite a mess until a local landscaper bought the property to expand his nursery business. Along with that, he restored and shored up the habitat along a stream, and eventually built trails up the hill to the edge of the Tongass National Forest and a walkway/lookout. The tour here starts with lush gardens very similar to the Pacific Northwest, then a description of these 'flower towers' - some of the trees uprooted by the mudslide were repurposed by planting them upside down in the muck, and using the roots to support moss in the manner of hanging baskets. They were profusely planted with petunias, and served as great nesting sites for small birds as well. We were also taken up the trail in golf carts, heard about the native flora of the Tongass, and got great views from the top.

The last thing we did in Juneau was to take the Mt. Roberts Tramway to the top, for more great views and a short movie about the local Tlingit tribes. This photo is looking up from the top of the tram. We were told to look for their bear - do you see him in the rock? He appears to be chasing a bird, or maybe it's the paraglider soaring over the bird rock formation.

More of my Juneau pictures are here.

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