My story begins with a one week cruise and a nine day road trip on an RV along Alaska’s highways and byways with six other people. Yes, that’s right. My hubby, myself and five friends in one single RV camper. I know what you’re thinking. We are crazy!
So, after our whale watching experience in Juneau which left me with awe inspiring National Geographic-like moments, the tour company’s driver dropped us off at Mendenhall Glacier because it was included in the ticket price. Who can say no to two-in-one attractions?
You do know that Juneau is Alaska’s capital, right?
Mendenhall Glacier is about 13 miles long and ends in Mendenhall lake where you can see icebergs of varied shapes and sizes floating peacefully by. Interestingly enough, the lake was formed in 1931 due to the continued recession of the glacier brought about by climate change.
There is a Visitor Center that offers panoramic views of the area and has everything you want to know about Mendenhall Glacier and its history. We didn’t go inside because it was full of people and we didn’t have enough time to browse through the displays. Our group was more interested in doing the active stuff, like hiking and looking for bears. Ugh!
We took a short 45 minute leisurely round trip hike to Nugget Falls which was beside the glacier. As we neared the falls, the sound of the crashing water got louder and louder until all you can hear is mostly just a thunderous explosion of water falling on a liquid surface. After exploring and goofing around, scrambling on rocks, and then skipping stones on the water, we were ready to go on our next mini adventure.
For more glacial action, check out this post.
Because we wanted to wander around some more and do some hiking, we couldn’t make it to the time specified for the next pick up. Before dropping us off, the driver, I’m assuming he liked us because he gladly agreed and offered to pick us up a little later.
So we found another less popular trail away from the Visitor Center which led us to this view. Another side of the glacier minus the tourists.
And we get to touch this.
On the way to the glacier, we found this too on the muddy trail. Uhh, bear tracks? I would be lying if I would say I wasn’t scared. This however, excited some members of our group! They wanted to see bears out in the wild. NOT ME (well, maybe a little). This is bear country and we were trespassing on its territory. No matter how many bear safety tips I have read prior to this trip, no matter if one of us was carrying a bear repellant spray (would that work against an angry bear?), no matter if we were a big group, I was still scared shit.
What if one would suddenly appear lumbering down this trail no matter how pretty these flowers looked? Eeek! What would YOU do?
Thank God no bears were in sight that day! My guardian angel was definitely working overtime.
We got picked up at the time we agreed on and again, I think the driver found our group interesting enough, instead of dropping us off near the cruise ship port, he suggested we go check out this hidden out of the way river for some live animal action. He dropped us off at what appears to be a factory of some sort and instructed us to walk through the brush and the pocket of trees until it leads us to the river.
This was what we saw in the clearing.
Fish! Lots of them. Salmon spawning. Salmon running upstream. I have never seen so much fish in my entire life! They were all in a swimming frenzy despite the shallow waters. You can see their fins, their entire heads, part of their bodies all in a desperate attempt to go upstream where they spawn and then eventually die. Such a sad life for these creatures… but such is the circle of life too.
Because of the abundant food source here, naturally, predators and other animals are attracted to this place. This was the live animal action the driver was talking about.
And yet, someone was challenged by all the fish that were just apparently within our reach. He just had to do it.
There you go. Fishing in Alaska.