Saturday, November 17, 2012

juneau ~ ice and wool

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

commercial fishing

looking around early morning, before our super exciting excursion today...

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

mostly thrilling

here is the person videoing, sitting next to the person weeping (feeling much better as soon as we landed)

the mendenhall glacier

looking back

you can just see the helicopter blade in this photo

those are HUGE deep cracks in the ice

we're here!

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 and 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!
xxx lori

* for those that have asked, our trip was booked through here
and we took this tour


  1. I'm in awe of your trip and feel like I was there too; someday:-D That glacier blue and the yarn you chose is amazing. As I was visiting my grandson in Oberlin, I came across a wonderful knit shop and brought back some treasures too. I think it's the best way to remember an experience, XOXO

  2. Wow, such an astonishing post, Lori!
    I am amazed by all these photographs and wanting more from your trip to Alaska!
    I also loved the knitting shop =o)


  3. Thank you so much for sharing Lori, it is absolutely beautiful and it all looks so magical. And that yarn shop, what a lovely find.

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

  4. Wow! I'm thinking unnerving would be the right word for me. We thought about taking a small plane while in Nepal to see Mount Everest but it was the rainy season and I get really, really, really sick in small planes. Your trip sounds and looks so wonderful! Ha! So funny that you found someone to talk knitting with on the glacier. :) The color of that wool is gorgeous! Hope you are having a great weekend. Tammy

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your photographs and memories with us! Isn't it amazing that there are knitters everywhere? Look at what Mary-Jane Mucklestone posted today:

  6. what an amazing adventure Lori, thank you for sharing! that glacier blue is totally out of this world, looking forward to seeing what you have planned with your true souvineer yarn, stunning!

  7. Amazing, Lori! Unbelievable beautiness! How fantastic that you were able to experience that! Your yarn choice is perfect - that lovely turquoise is always reminding you about that blue in the ice! Gorgeus buttons, too! Thanks again for an unique photo story! x Teje

  8. I do believe I would be the one weeping on a helicopter but then you never know. You snapped some fantastic shots!!!!

  9. Oh man that day trip sounds out of this world and so so beautiful. The yarn you picked up too--absolutely gorgeous . I love your Alaska posts !

  10. Oh my dearest Lori, I am loving my virtual tour of Alaska, you are an amazing tour guide!
    I think it was destiny for you to meet that new knitter on top of the glacier, the knitting gods know what they are doing.
    You picked a perfect yarn color for this leg of the journey and it will be a joy to see what stunning piece of art you turn it in to.
    Looking forward to the next stop! :)

  11. Wow! Amazing blue of the glacier. and the sun! It looks so pure!
    What a great post, and how perfect to find a knitter at the top of the world!

  12. I loved this post, the shadows on the glacier, the blue, the knitter's tent, the smiles on the water-ice..and the yarn. Thanks for sharing this trip!

  13. The wool, the ice, everything - it's perfect! Only you could make me want to visit a cold place! :-)

  14. Incredible! Absolutely gorgeous scenery!

  15. Dear wonderful, inspiring Lori,

    I simply want to let you know that, following your inspiring post on your reindeer shawl and new books, I have ordered 'The Snow Child' and organised a tiny giveaway on my blog around this book as well as singing your well-deserved praises too.

    Have a beautiful week and just LOOK at that turquoise!


  16. Thanks for the kind words. I've always wanted to visit Alaska and your photos make the drive even bigger. What a stunning group of pictures.

  17. Oh my goodness, wow! That was amazing. The blue of the glacier, collecting glacier water, it was all so absolutely stunning. (I also loved the prayer flags in the changing rooms!). What perfect yarn to remember your trip, and such gorgeous buttons!

  18. Oh, Lori! You make me want to go back to Alaska so much!!! We did the helicopter ride to Mendenhall, but didn't spend much time there and certainly didn't do the hiking. Wonderful wonderful photos!!! (as always!!!) You actually seemed to capture the blue that I remember on that glacier, too!!!

  19. Have discovered your blog by way of Stephanie - the reindeer shawl is exquisite! Really enjoyed looking at all your images of Alaska. We recently returned from our 4th trip there and each time it becomes more difficult to leave. Our son (also a landscape and wildlife photographer) and future daughter-in-law live there and every visit becomes filled with new memories.Like you that glacier blue coloration has stolen my heart. we even did a soft, muted version on the walls in our bedroom and bath.

    Thinking I need to have the kids bring me some yarn when they fly home for the holidays!!

  20. oh but it's such a wonderful pleasure lori. so glad it came on sunday too - your post - when i have the most relaxing time able to sit and take it all in. that glacier blue is amazing and i love that you got a yarn to remember it by. what a meaningful experience. those mountains are so beautiful. the grandiosity just makes you swoon doesn't it? i can imagine how thrilling that heli ride was for you. wow. so happy you had this experience with your sister. happy thanksgiving to you and chuck! i hope you have a wonderful week.

  21. Oh that looks like so much fun. I love that you found the yarn shops. Your pictures are so stunning.

  22. Incredible. You do get about, just a bit :) xxx

  23. I think I would have been more scared on top of the glacier than in the helicopter. :) Such beautiful photos, and you all look so happy. (I hope the sobbing woman ended up having a fun day, too!). The yarn shop looks like a place you would have happily spent a few hours! Thanks for sharing this, Lori! xoxo

  24. Favorite part of the post was the knitter in the tent!!!!!! Knitting brings us all together :)

  25. Wonderful, exciting post, Lori! I love your sense of adventure :) The glacier pictures are really fascinating and the blue so perfectly captured in your beautiful yarn. (And I loved the little yellow tent with a knitting perfect!)
    Such natural beauty is a real joy to see through your eyes.
    Helen x

  26. wow!simply amazing! Thanks for sharing this marvelous journey Lori♥

  27. Thank you Lori, a beautiful post, that blue is gorgeous!

  28. That blue yarn does match the glacier so well!

  29. Oh goodness, I wish you could feel my heart pounding! What an incredible adventure! And glacier blue yarn - YAY!

  30. The sobbing woman? Was she a woman? or to be accurate was she a he? I know you didn't say who on purpose. Is it wrong that I hoped it was a man? :-)

    I know you to be the most wonderful and caring person and friend. It makes me think sbout how your travels and experiences shape who you are . Reverence . I always think that about you, loritimesfive xoxo

    In Alaska, in Africa, at the hot dog stand, you've got me on your back pocket peering out and saying thank you


  31. That's funny going to the wool shop. Made me giggle.
    Wonderful images.

  32. Hi Lori,

    Fantastic pictures! The BEST holiday I ever had was the 6 weeks I spent trekking around Alaska 15 years ago during Uni break while I was attending UBC in Vancouver for a year. I did the Inside Passage (the cheap little Ferry version) and got off at Juneau and Skagway and hiked the Chilcoot Trail and then went all the way to Inuvik. Your pictures here and the last couple of Posts have brought back so many wonderful memories. But wow to see it from the air though, just brilliant! Based on your recommendation and then seeing it again on Stephanies Blog, I also picked up a copy of The Snow Child today to pack in my hospital bag for when this baby decides to make an appearance. So thank you for the trip down memory lane and the book recommendation.

    Enjoy the rest of the week!

    Mel x

  33. Wow! all those beautiful mountains, and you got to go in a helicopter!!
    I just love the colour of that yarn. Do you have plans for it yet?
    How lovely that you found a 'knitter' on the glacier.

  34. that blue in the glacier is absolutely stunning. thanks for sharing all these photos. i also think it could've been awesome to sit in a tent on an alaskan glacier and knit something :)

  35. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful photos, as always, Lori...

    You have the best adventures!!

  36. You've left me speechless, again. I mean, you were walking on a glacier! Just astounding. And as soon as I saw that blue yarn, I thought, 'It's just like the glacier blue!' It's GORGEOUS. Will have to check out the link. Lori, I for one will never tire of seeing your Alaskan adventures in photos. Breathtaking.

  37. I wrote you a comment, but it didn`t appear. Now I can`t remember! But you know what I said!

  38. what glorious photos, and that glacier blue seems to belong to another world. you chose well with the yarn, it matches perfectly! hope you had a happy thanksgiving, lori! xoxo


xoxo lori