If you didn’t read my previous post on Juneau (in the city) you can do so here. I mentioned Mendenhall Glacier in it, which unlike Matanuska you can’t walk on (or at least it’s heavily frowned upon/impossible). Instead you drive or take a bus to the visitor centre and from there you can take different trails with different viewpoints. I went on the Nugget Falls trail that took around twenty minutes and takes you to the waterfall. From there you can get the falls and the glacier in one photo which is neat. The contrast between ice and running water is pretty strange and unique.
A way of getting on the glacier (further up) is helicopter and this was one of the most insane experiences of my life. This tour was organised by Temsco and it is their dog camp excursion. I arrived at the heliport which was just outside Juneau near the wetlands. Once there you watch a safety video for ten minutes and then get decked out in jackets and snow boots. They offer different trips but this was the most exciting for me as once at the top you got to visit a dog camp and go sledging! The helicopter ride to the top was about twenty minutes with the most mind-boggling views ever. Going over Juneau and then up past the mountains and vast ice landscapes was jaw-dropping worthy. The pilot made me feel very safe and the whole time I just couldn’t stop smiling – photos will never ever do it justice. (I realise I sound like a loon in this paragraph but I just can’t describe how uplifted and breathtaking this was).
We then spotted this small cluster of people in the middle of nowhere and started our descent. This was known as ‘dog camp’ and around two hundred huskies live up here with ten staff the whole summer. I couldn’t imagine living up here and being so isolated but everyone seemed to love their job and more important love the pups. It was like a mini village with every dog having their own little house. I got to play with newborn puppies, which is always a pleasure, and get a tour of the grounds. Following that was sledging round the camp and the dogs were so eager to pull and run as fast as possible. We stopped a few times to take photos, hear some stories and swap positions on the sleigh. I liked being at the back the most and getting to steer and brake. I can’t imagine doing this for an iditarod and weeks on end but for this brief moment in time it felt really awesome. On the fly back we followed the glacier down and got to see the falls from up above and see just how far back they went. The two experiences of flying in a helicopter and dog mushing blew my mind and if I ever have the opportunity again I will jump at it!
All that adrenaline made me very hungry and down the road by Auke Bay was Hot Bites (they only open during the summer). They are a shack in the wall burger joint and you can tell every burger is made with love and skill. It was the perfect food to pump myself back up and help me walk again haha.
If you keep following the Glacier Highway you’ll get to St. Therese. It’s a shrine and one of the most isolated but peaceful places I’ve been. You walk out onto this secluded peninsula and there is a beautifully constructed and maintained chapel. Surrounding it are several stone ‘stations’ that depict different scenes of the life of Jesus. I am not a religious person but this whole place felt like something out of Spirited Away and you can’t deny the beauty in that.
Along most of the road are these beaches that frame this turquoise/emerald water. To cross off the last thing on my Alaskan bucket list I walked over to one and went fishing. I learnt that I have a terrible cast and can not catch fish but the experience was really fun. Next time I’ll try my luck on a boat and go closer to midday oppose to early evening (so the fish will be hungry). I just wanted to get across here that if you venture out of Juneau you can find little gems like this. You are then out of the hustle and bustle of ‘cruise ship central’ and can get truly encompassed in Alaskan beauty.
Thank you for reading my Alaska adventures. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or shoot me a tweet. I will be putting up a summary of all the posts on Sunday for easy access and in case you missed any!