August 2008
Juneau to Anchorage

Most of the pictures expand when clicked 

We  flew from Dulles to Atlanta to Seattle to Juneau. Got there around 10 pm.

Started the trip with a visit to the
Mendenhall Glacier.  The glacier is a few miles from Downtown Juneau. There is a nice visitor center and good observation platforms.

Notice the icebergs floating in the lake.

 
Peggi and I took a hike for a better view.   On the way back I bushwhacked down to the shoreline for a closer view of the glacier and a pretty sizable waterfall that is not part of the glacier.

It started raining while we were on the hike and continued raining for several days.
Next day the rain continued so we couldn't ride the Mt. Roberts Tram.  We took a drive along the shore to a Catholic retreat center and a shrine to St. Therese.


The shrine was in a very pretty setting and was actually on a small island.

  We saw our first native salmon fighting their way up a gravel bar that was about 6" deep. It was interesting to watch them struggle to get up this stream.
Next we visited the Macaulay (Gastineau)Fish Hatchery.  The hatchery is mostly there to expand the salmon population but they also harvest the fish and have a processing plant there as well.

The beauty of this operation is that you don't have to catch the fish. They come back all by themselves and were swimming up this fish ladder into the plant.

 
At the top of the ladder the fish are distributed into these tanks then are herded using the screen into a scoop that lifts them up to the processing plant. 

I had no idea the salmon run was so big and pervasive.  Everywhere we went on the trip there were lots of salmon in the streams.
We stopped in downtown Juneau.  There were 7 cruise ships docked there and thousands of people strolling the shops. 

We visited the Alaska State Museum then drove across the bridge to Douglas Island.  The drive along the shore was scenic and provided a nice view of the Mendenhall Glacier across the channel.
 At 4 pm we caught the Fairweather Express to Glacier Bay National Park.

If you catch this ferry to Glacier Bay remember that this is the national park ferry, and it leaves from the Juneau Marina, not the State of Alaska ferry terminal. This causes a lot of confusion. Both ferries leave from the Auke Bay so if you tell a bus or cab driver you want to go to the ferry, you're likely to the wrong place.

We had a couple of nights reserved at
Glacier Bay Lodge in the Glacier Bay National Park.
To see Glacier Bay you basically have three choices.  Most people take the cruise up the inland waterway from Vancouver.  You can also fly to Juneau and take a 2 day cruise from Juneau on a smaller ship.

The third option is to stay at Glacier Bay Lodge or in
Gustavus and take the Glacier Bay tour on the park ferry, which is an even smaller boat.  That's what we did. 

Note that you can't drive to Glacier Bay or Gustavus.  It's the park ferry or a flight from Juneau.
Glacier Bay Lodge was very nice.  The park hotels are old and historic so the rooms are a bit substandard but the lodge has a lot of charm.

We went on a weekend special that included ferry and meals in the price.  The meals were outstanding.
 In the morning we left for the all day tour of Glacier Bay.  On the way out we saw sea lions, harbor seals, sea otters, and lots of birds. 
We stopped and picked up some backcountry campers. It seemed to me to be very rugged camping.

The catamaran pushes right up on to shore.
The weather was cold and rainy.  I think that is the way it mostly is in Glacier Bay.  You have to bundle up to stay out on deck. 

At right the boat moves closer to some bears foraging on the shore. 
We saw a number of grizzly, or more accurately brown bears, working the tidal zone for food.
Near the head of the Tarr Inlet is Margerie Glacier.  The Margerie Glacier's height is 250 feet. The glacier also extends another 100 feet below the water line.

The glacier is calving so the boat turned off the engines and sat for a while.  We saw and heard some large chunks fall into the ocean.  The ice breaks away with a loud snap and hits the water with a loud boom.  Quite spectacular.

 Meg turns around for a smile before looking back again at the glacier.
The Grand Pacific Glacier extends 2 miles across the head of Tarr Inlet.  The glacier is not calving so the front edge is rounded and covered with rock that is being pushed in front of the glacier.
They say these bears are the same species as grizzlies, which refer to inland bears, but are considerably larger as a result of the abundant food supply.  I've never seen a grizzly but brown bears are definitely big.
We cruised by the Johns Hopkins Glacier on our return trip.  The Johns Hopkins Glacier is the only major tide-water glacier that is advancing further into the water. This is a relatively fast moving glacier -- the glacial ice moves about 3,000 feet per year.

The object you see in the picture is a full sized, 8 story cruise ship.  The ship provides some perspective on the size and distances of the landscape.
We pulled up a small inlet for a wonderful and dramatic view of the mountains and the related glacial valley.
The ferry didn't leave until 4pm so the next day we hiked around a bit, had a nice lunch, and hung out in the lodge. 

On the way back to Juneau we saw several whales and caught a one of them
breaching.  

I managed to get a video of the whale breaching. You can tell by the reaction of the crowd it was somewhat more impressive seeing it live.

Click the picture for a you-tube video.



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