WEDNESDAY, JULY 4, 2012 – JUNEAU, AK
The next morning, we grabbed a pastry and did a little shopping. We found a place along the curb and watched the 4th of July parade at 11:00. It was awesome! It was a little too long, though. But, We got some great pictures with T.J.’s new camera!
At 12:45, we bought tickets for the bus to the Mendenhall Glacier. The bus picked us up around 1:00 and drove us to the Forest Service Visitor Center about 13 miles northwest of Juneau.
Mendenhall Glacier is one of 38 large (and more than 100 small) glaciers that flow from the 1,500 square mile expanse of snow and ice known as the Juneau Icefield. Mendenhall Glacier is a tongue of ice that stretches over 12 miles from the Juneau Icefield to Mendenhall Lake. At its face, the glacier is around a half mile wide; it reaches about 100 feet above the water. In some spots, the ice is over 2,000 feet deep. In the mid-1700s, Mendenhall Glacier reached its maximum point of advance; the edge of the ice rested almost 2.5 miles down valley from its present position. Since then, the annual rate of melt has exceeded its annual total accumulation. Despite the overall loss of ice, Juneau’s Icefield snowfall is a continual source of new glacial ice. Glaciers contribute vast volumes of freshwater to land and marine environments. Southeast Alaska’s glaciers discharge almost twice as much freshwater as the Mississippi River. In 1879, John Muir named this glacier, “Auk Glacier” after a local Tlingit Indian village. The name was changed in 1892 to honor Thomas C. Mendenhall, superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey.
We watched a short film about the glacier and saw mountain goats from the window of the visitor center. I think T.J. got some photos of the mountain goats with his new camera. We walked the 45-minute round trip Nuggets Falls Trail and the salmon viewing Steep Creek Trail.
We did NOT see any moose, bear, or salmon – Darn! But, T.J. did pick up a big chunk of 250 year old glacier ice!
Glacial ice appears blue because it absorbs all colors of the visible light spectrum, except blue, which it transmits. If the ice is highly fractured with air pockets, it scatters the visible light spectrum and appears white.
On the way back to town, the busdriver told us that salmon fishing season has been cancelled this year due to lack of participation by the salmon.
I wanted to have a halibut burger and vanilla shake at The Shack by the wharf, but we couldn’t find it. We ate pizza at Hangar on the Wharf. The pizza was good; the service was not so good.
Afterwards, we went back to the hotel room – where T.J. vegged for the entire night.
I put my bravegirl pants on and walked down to the Alaskan Bar to have an Alaskan Ale with an Alaskan Resident.
There were no seats at the bar, and I wasn’t able to get any service. I walked out and shopped a little.
Then, I went back to Westmark Baranof Hotel. As I rounded the corner to grab a cookie and go up to my room, I was lured into the Bubble Room by the sound of Bobby Denson playing the piano. I took a seat at the bar and ordered an Alaskan Summer Ale. I was sitting next to Paul, from Oregon. The conversation and music were good. The company Paul works for has an office in Juneau. He was in town because one of his employees died at work – on the toilet, possibly under suspicious circumstances.
After a couple of drinks, Paul and I went to the Alaskan and had an Alaskan with an Alaskan. There was good music there, too. The service was just so-so. We walked back to the Westmark Baranof; he kissed me goodnight.