thank you so very much for the kind comments on my reindeer shawl!(previous post) i'm happy to report the weather has turned cold here on the coast of california and i've been able to wear it! i want to apologize for going on about alaska, but there is just a bit more to share.
we left skagway sailing south to juneau, encountering the stormiest seas i've ever been in! since most of the cruising is done through the night, we slept through it, waking though to a salt splashed balcony and sliding doors! welcome to juneau...
a charming picturesque frontier town
looking around early morning, before our super exciting excursion
we are taking a guided hike on the mendenhall glacier, by helicopter!
here we go! it's so loud in here we have to wear headphones and communicate with the pilot and each other through a special mouthpiece
what you don't see right beside me is my sister and our two friends. one person was sobbing (terrified), one was laughing and one was videoing the whole thing, i don't want anyone to feel bad so i won't show those photos (i was consoling, laughing and photographing!)
up we go
in the distance is the juneau icefield we're headed for. when first we arrived at the airport and northstar trekking, we were taken into a gear room where we found bags with our names attached. having previously filled out a form giving our age, height and weight (and signing our lives away) we put on the thick snow pants, wind jacket, gloves, heavy snow boots and a small waist pack provided. you are only allowed to bring what will fit in the pack
we then had to meet for a safety briefing (and to sign more waivers). here is our pilot paul, he was pointing out mountains and glaciers that i immediately forgot the names of
except this, this is the tongass national forest
approaching the snow now
since i was only allowed one lens on the helicopter, i brought a 20-35mm, so you can see...
we flew very close
pilot paul pointed out giant fissures and huge crevasses
he showed us canada in the far distance
we have flown in a very large circle, coming down now towards the mendenhall glacier
eeps. in a helicopter, sitting beside the door as i was, the window goes all the way down to the floor, so it kind of feels like you are going to fall out. it's thrilling and unnerving
here is the person videoing, sitting next to the person weeping (feeling much better as soon as we landed)
the mendenhall glacier
you can just see the helicopter blade in this photo
those are HUGE deep cracks in the ice
there is another helicopter just like the one we're in
there it is! the helicopter we just arrived on! a guide ran up to us and with the rotor blades still spinning, she flung open the door and said walk over there, okay!
we were introduced to our guides, liz, claire and grace, they began attaching the crampons to our boots, and we were given hiking poles
see the tiny people in the foreground? this photo gives an idea of the size of the glacier and those cracks we saw from the sky
after another brief safety talk we began to hike
it's a bit tricky, every sense was engaged. we were shown how to step, feet shoulder width apart and from heel to toe
we came to a fissure that had rushing water and a deep drop off. our guide showed us how to fill our water bottles with glacier water
good job sis!
we were hesitant to walk on the water. you could see it rushing under the layer of ice
it was stunning, incredible, amazing. the sun was shining, sparkling on the ice and snow, i was trying to take it all in
as we were heading back, one of the guides asked if i'd made my hat. :)
it just so happened that she was a new knitter and loving it, spending her free time here on the mountain (between tours) in this yellow tent, knitting away. my sister laughed that of course i would find a knitter on the top of a glacier, in alaska. we had a fun chat and i promised to send her the pattern for my hat (wishing i had time to sit in that tent and knit awhile with her...)
time to leave, here comes our helicopter, you can just see it in the sky
i've never seen a blue like this glacier blue
on the return we flew straight down the glacier, towards mendenhall lake
whew. thank you paul, what a brilliant experience
on the way back to juneau our group chattered nonstop. we had only an hour or so to see the town (in the morning when we arrived everything was closed). everyone deciding what they would like to do, my sister told everyone what i wanted, so the whole bus was looking for it. hee hee
i was looking for seaside yarns! running most of the way, we found this wonderful knitting shop...
with only moments to decide, i asked about locally spun and or hand dyed wool. owner melissa showed me to this display, her yarn...hand dyed in juneau, alaska!
it is the quickest i've ever chosen yarn. this skein looked like the glacier ice and water we'd just experienced!
the most beautiful blue. the skein is a woolly silk lace, 875 yds of 80% merino 20% silk by 'a tree hugger's wife yarns'. later, i read on the label she also has an etsy shop! you can find melissa and her beautiful yarn here
back on board the ship, giddy over the day, so wonderful. it felt like a dream, till we emptied out our packs, and found our mendenhall glacier water! next and last alaska post, we go to ketchikan and then vancouver. thank you so much for coming along!
* for those that have asked, our trip was booked through here
and we took this tour