After setting up, we hike some of the trails around the campground. The rain forest is lush and laced with small streams and ponds. One pond sports a beaver den. No beavers in sight but in the surrounding area we see gnawed stumps of the trees that are now piled in the middle of the pond. Mendenhall Lake is stunning with icebergs and waterfalls. There are numerous trails in the area of the glacier and we take advantage over a few days to do a little hiking along the Steep Creek Trail, the Trail of Time and the Nugget Falls Trail. Since Mendenhall is the most accessible glacier in the area, there are lots of tourists along these trails, and tour busses fill the parking lots. But this glacier may not be around for long, it has receded a total of 2.5 miles since the 1500’s and 1.75 of those miles since 1958.
|Tracy's King Crab Shack|
As the Capital of Alaska, Juneau is home to the Alaska StateMuseum. The permanent collections boast a large assortment of Alaska Native Culture, Early Exploration, Russian America, American Political, Mining, Minerals and Maritime History artifacts. These are all interesting but it’s the special exhibits that really intrigue us especially Nicholas Galanin – Tlingit/Aleut Multi-Disciplinary Artist – State of Being Displaced. This installation is visually exciting and intellectually stimulating.
There is also the Juneau-Douglas City Museum. Housed in the former Juneau Memorial Library Building are various exhibits relating to the local history arts and culture. The main attraction is the original Montana Creek Fish Trap, a 500-700 year old basketry style fish trap and a replica based on measurements from the original.
On the recommendation of a local man that we met while having an afternoon beer at the Viking Bar, we drive across the bridge to Douglas to try out the fare at The Island Pub. They serve a variety of pub food, but it’s their wood fired pizza that draws us. Every year they hold a contest and folks create different combinations of fresh local toppings for their thin crust gourmet pizzas. We order the 2013 winner: light cream garlic sauce, smoked salmon, capers, red onions and their special cheese blend. It’s like lox and bagels with a twist and goes really well with some Alaskan Ambers.
|A day at the Beach|
There is so much to do and see in and around Juneau. Our biggest outing is an all day cruise of the Tracy Arm Fiord with Adventure Bound Alaska’s 65 foot “Captain Cook”. We cruise over the jade green inland sea dodging blue icebergs, our necks craning to see the tops of snow capped granite walls with waterfalls spilling into the ocean, and our lungs filled with the crisp iced air. At the end of the fiord we park at the base of the Sawyer Glacier. The captain turns off the motors and we sit in silence. Suddenly, loud pops and cracks like fireworks, a few small splashes and BOOM a large block of ice violently crashes into the sea. It is powerful and awe inspiring. But there is a softer side here. The icebergs at the base of the glacier serve as a nursery for Harbor Seals and everywhere we look are mother seals and their pups some a few days old. On the return trip we see more icebergs, various sea birds, bald eagles and a good-sized black bear.
Well that about sums it up for Juneau… one more ferry ride on this leg of our journey will bring us to Haines… and then…