Irrespective of the season, Mendenhall never ceases to amaze. Beautiful walks, scenery & wildlife can be found here. Day trips are easily accessible, with tour operators running day trips through the summer from Juneau. In fact, 80% of the 500,000 annual visitors are tourists.
Why go? Well, as Juneau’s most visible ice field, there are ample exploration activities, in particular through the summer. A hike to the ice caves is a particular highlight. We were treated to a wonderful experience through our world’s natural beauty. Bears can be seen catching salmon through the summer, with resident bear Nikki (#25) & her cubs being particularly photogenic. A walk to Nugget Falls gives an excellent perspective of the glacier, its depth & its beauty. There’s Mt McGinnis for the more serious hikers, an 11 mile hike with a steep ascent deep into mountain goat territory.
Winter doesn’t have as much opportunity for exploration, although there’s an argument that it can be more photogenic. It’s Winter Wonderland scenery is nothing short of spectacular & is the perfect reason to get out & embrace nature. The air in Juneau, or just outside, is some of the cleanest out there & breathing that in around Christmas really clears the ol’ pipes!
The only downfall with Mendenhall Glacier is the rate that it’s receding. Yes, there is the argument that other glaciers are growing, however we can’t ignore the fact that Mendenhall’s decline is rapid. An interesting read is that posted by the National Geographic, showing the glacier in all its glory in 1894. Since then, the glacier has retreated nearly 3 kilometres!! Astounding to think & the affects of pollution & climate change is visible on the glacier’s black ice. Knowing the beauty of this glacier, it’s imperative for us all to take action in our fight against the increasing demise of Mother Earth.
Here are some pictures of the contrasting seasons. No prizes for guessing which is which 🙂