As mentioned in my previous post, it started raining as we returned to our car at the Eagle River trail near the Boy Scout Camp. It rained fairly hard but as we approached the Mendenhall River the sun came out and there was a rainbow to our left. We stopped at Brotherhood Bridge, where there’s a pretty decent view of the glacier and we had it framed by the rainbow. Rainbows can be tricky to photograph because the colors are fairly faint relative to other things in the photograph. Slight underexposure can help but that tends to make the rest of the shot dark. Anyway, This one turned out pretty well. At a different time of year, this photo would benefit from fireweed in the foreground, but the autumnal colors aren’t bad, either.
Tagged With: Mendenhall
We went to the glacier today. In Juneau, that’s short hand for the Mendenhall, since it’s the one you can basically drive to. When we lived here in the late 1980s the face of the glacier was just a little past Nugget Falls, on the right in this photo. When my mother-in-law lived in Juneau, the face of the glacier was considerably further out into the valley. Like most (but notably not all) glaciers since the last little ice age, roughly between 1300 and the mid to late 1800s, it is receding. It’s still pretty and the clouds separated long enough for us to see some of the mountains around it, at least briefly, although you can’t really see them well in this photo.
We have a very fond and somewhat funny memory from the winter of 1986-87. It was on a relatively mild day in February when Cathy, Brian, Lisa, and I drove out to the glacier. There was eight to ten inches of snow on the ice on Mendenhall Lake and there were kids sledding on the hills of glacial moraine. Brian, Lisa, and Cathy walked out into the snow on the ice wearing boots and their bathing suits. They took off the boots and settled on a blanket laid on the snow (which naturally sank into the snow when they sat down. I took a handful of photographs of them, pretending it was a lovely day. Actually, for February in Juneau, clear skies make it a lovely day, regardless of the temperature. Anyway, here’s Cathy, 32 years later, in front of the Mendenhall, although she was dressed more warmly today than she was on that day in February.
This photo wasn’t taken by me, but I’ve already posted two photos from today that I did take, so I think I can get away with it. I don’t appear in many photographs and for the most part, that’s my preference. Nevertheless, I’m trying to learn that if I want to expect others to let me take their picture, I need to be willing to return the favor. Dorothy took this with my camera and while I don’t think it’s a particularly good photo of me, it’s at least evidence that I was there. Nugget falls is larger than it looks in this photo. The reality is that we’re quite a ways from it. If we walked so that we were right below it, you’d see how high it really is. I have a few photos like that, but this isn’t one of them, so you’ll just have to trust me, or better yet, go visit it for yourself.
We went to the glacier again today, this time taking the short walk to Nugget Falls. When we lived here, the glacier came to about where we’re standing in this photo. It has receded quite a bit since then, which is a little sad, but glaciers have advanced and receded throughout history. Underneath the glacier are the remains of huge trees, frozen for quite a while, showing that the glacier has been considerably smaller than it is now for many, many years at some point it its history. It will advance again. In the meantime, Juneau may need to stop advertising it as a “drive up glacier.” It’s still quite impressive and worth going to see. One hike I wouldn’t have minded taking is the West Glacier Trail, which is the first real hike I took with Brian after we first met. I’d love to have photographs showing the difference in the glacier in 37 years. Maybe we’ll need to visit at least one more time. I also wouldn’t mind going up East Glacier Trail and Nugget Creek Trail. It’s more wooded but very pretty. We never went up that as far as Nugget Glacier, which would also be nice to do, some day. There are more trails in and around Juneau than can be hiked in two weeks, though. You have to pick and choose.
It was a fairly wet day today, one of the few rainy days we’ve had in our two weeks in Juneau. We went to church this evening (yes, on Saturday evening) and then Cathy and I drove to Skater’s Cabin on the southwest corner of Mendenhall Lake. Built in 1936 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, it can be reserved for group use for $10 per hour. It is about 200 yards from the West Glacier trailhead. The West Glacier Trail was one of my favorite hikes when we lived here, although it’s fairly steep in places, including what Brian and I call the Aztec Stairs, climbing about 750 feet in a little over a fifth of a mile of trail (a 63% grade). There are literal steps cut into the rock. I suppose technically that part of the trail is the Mount McGinnis Trail, but it’s all one trail to us.