Monday, January 5, 2009

More Mendenhall Glacier

New Year's Day was another blue-sky day for Juneau and the temps were hovering around the single digits. It doesn't get this cold here very often and days like this remind me so much of typical winter days in the interior. We decided to head out towards the Mendenhall Glacier to see what the waterfall looked like and to take a walk out on the lake towards the head of the glacier. The waterfall was pretty much frozen over except for two or three spots where you could still see flowing water. We didn't get very close but I bet you could see the flowing water underneath the frozen top layer. It would have been cool (!) and probably risky to see.

It felt like we were on a pilgrimage to pay tribute to the mighty ice. As we headed towards the face of the glacier, there were two pathways, most likely set for x-country skiing, that had been packed down by skiers, snowshoers, and walkers. There was a constant line of people walking out and back towards the glacier. I almost felt like we should be chanting or something. I settled for a "Happy New Year!" or "Great Day!" as we passed other worshippers.

I don't know if you remember but I took a couple of pictures on a previous visit and posted them that showed ice skaters right up close to the face. At that time I didn't think that I would ever venture on foot to the same spot as they were. But we did - we got up as close as we could.

And yes, it was windy cold and my face was frozen! As we approached we started hearing all the popping you would normally hear on the ice - movement of water, the glacier advancing, sunlight hitting the long-frozen ice chucks. We didn't dawdle for too long and felt much more comfortable about 100 feet farther away.

The walk away from the glacier had the wind to our backs and the sunshine on our faces and I was actually hot when we got back across the lake.

I don't expect to ever get this close again - certainly would not do it in a kayak!

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