We reached Juneau, Alaska’s capital, early the next morning after sailing through thick mist and fog all night. That morning H and I opted to do an excursion H had done over ten years ago when he was last in Juneau: a double helicopter landing on two glaciers! This was the excursion I was most excited for since it would be my first time both flying in a helicopter and seeing a glacier (in the end, I knocked seven things off my bucket list after this trip)!We dressed in as many layers and warm accessories as we could and headed out to the Juneau Airport. On the way we passed a rather majestic bald eagle – probably surveying the highway for some breakfast.
We arrived at the Temsco Airport and, after watching a quick safety video and being grouped by weight, we boarded our helicopter. H and I sat up front by the pilot so we had the opportunity for some gorgeous front-row views.We took off gently towards the blue, foggy mountains. We passed some lush valleys… And picturesque rivers.Then we rounded a mountain peak and there was the Herbert Glacier (part of the Juneau Icefield), in all its icy glory! As we approached, our pilot took us closer to the giant crevasses (a deep crack in a glacier) down the side of the mountain which were radiant in hues of blue, charcoal, and bright white. We then looped further up the mountain to get a better sense of the sheer size of the glacier. And, after finding a good place, in a mixture of rain and fog, we landed lightly on the ice. My first steps on the glacier.This was a huge and incredibly deep water pool! I wore my “Alaskan Uniform” of my Aquascutum scarf, olive Zara jacket, navy Zara Vest (similar here) and J Brand Jeans. Up close, the crevasses were astoundingly diverse and beautiful. Their distinctive ombre colorings were even more dramatic in person. The waterfalls coming off the surrounding mountains reminded us that this glacial beauty may not always be around to visit. Since Juneau began measuring the Icefield in 1946, the Herbert Glacier has receded roughly 0.34 miles! H and I were grateful for the opportunity to see this incredible natural wonder together in person but I wonder – how long until the opportunity is gone forever? On a sillier note, I want you to learn from another one of my mistakes: always, always try on the hood of a coat you are considering purchasing. It wasn’t until the frigid chill of the Hebert Glacier that I actually tried on the hood of this jacket and discovered that it was ENORMOUS! I mean, I truly couldn’t see a thing once it was down, especially with all the fur getting in the way. In the end, this jacket did redeemed itself: it made the perfect deep pillow on our flight home from Anchorage a few days later. So I forgave the design flaw but I found it pretty amusing while we stood on the Herbert, trying to stay warm!
After spending about twenty minutes slurping up glacier water (we laid on our bellies on the ice and took sips from the glacial springs), taking photos, and admiring the incredible natural formations we boarded the helicopter and took off for the nearby Mendenhall Glacier. As we rounded over our landing site, called Suicide Falls, we flew past part of the glacier which still clung to the top of the mountain, above the falls. And then we came to a soft-landing nearby. This second glacier was substantially different from the Herbert, with a pillow-y surface that almost looked like burnt marshmallows (or meringue). Now I understand where the dessert “Baked Alaska” draws inspiration from! A shot of Suicide Falls from where we stood on the Mendenhall glacier. As we walked around the glacier’s surface, I spotted this small hole which… Went down quite deep!But all good things must come to an end and eventually we piled back into the helicopter and headed on a different route back to the airport.
Which had yet more beautiful scenery!We arrived safely back to the airport in a little sunshine and rode back to Juneau to go explore some of the city.
But this post is already my longest (and to think I had to edit out over 20 more photos)! So I will save the rest of Juneau for my next post.