As I look out my new Alaskan home's window, I can see the Mendenhall glacier, snowy mountain tops, and endless wilderness. Although only a novice in Alaska, my first two weeks here have been full of adventure, leaving no stone unturned or better said leaving no adventure undiscovered. Over the next four months, I plan to share my adventures of Alaska through my pictures, videos, and playful wordsmithing.
Enjoy these 3 Alaska adventures near Mendenhall Valley!
Mendenhall Glacier -Nearly 12 miles of ice peppered with beautiful blue crevasses, all framed by the mountains and milky lake with baby icebergs.
The picture above was taken on my run to the Tongass National Forest. This and its close Nugget Falls are both wonderful turnaround point for my runs. Regardless of the beauty from afar, I felt that I needed to experience the glacier more up close and personal. Thus, I decided to take a trek on the glacier via helicopter.
Tour of Mendenhall Glacier with Temsco - Taking off in a pack of four helicopters, I was able to view the Gastineau Channel and follow the lead chopper up the valley to our destination. Passing over my summer neighborhood and the Mendenhall river, lake, and Nugget Falls, the pack of helicopters circled the glacier bays allowing for vistas of the glacial cliffs, blue pools, and moraine. After arriving at the destination, the pack landed on a section of ice nearly 300 feet in depth. Upon exiting the helicopter, I was led on a guided trek across deep crevasses and glacier streams (aka nature's water fountain).
Although bundled with my summer 2012 uniform (the blue rain gear), gloves, hat, multiple layers, and the stylish glacier boots, the wind current from the glacier was dramatic. I believe the temperature was around 40, but with the wind chill and the constant rain sprinkle, it was definitely nippy.
My Midwestern roots and stoicness came in handy that day on the glacier as well as numerous other rather wet, chilly hikes since. Who knew that you could take a girl out of Wisconsin and transplant her in South Florida for nearly a decade, but never truly take the Wisconsin out of the girl? I guess over the next four months, I will be grateful for the many blistery cold days and nights near La Crosse and Madison. Heck, they are all either good times or good stories (sometimes both).
Everything is BIG in Alaska - It's Nature on Steroids - Another first in my Alaskan Adventures is that everything is big here. I thought the saying was that...."Everything is Bigger in Texas." However, I have to say that everything might be bigger in Texas, until you come to Alaska.
The scenery and wildlife are BIG. I am still awestruck by the mountains jetting or almost exploding out of the ocean at the Gastineau Channel. Meanwhile, the Hemlock and Sitka Spruce trees know no boundaries. They are some of the tallest trees I've seen in years. As, I have commented I think that a good saying for Alaska is "Nature on Steroids."
I was unaware until my last two weeks of hikes that most of Southeast Alaska is in the Tongass National Forest, which is the nation's largest forest. Additionally, it is a temperate rainforest. Maybe it's just my perception, but I never thought of a rainforest in Alaska. I always pictured rainforests in warm, tropical climates like that of the Amazon or Costa Rica. However, it is true. I'm adventuring this summer in one of the rainiest areas of the world, which supports all of this BIG growth.
Alaskan Night Sky - As a finale, I will leave you with an Alaskan night sky. This was taken the night of the Summer Solstice crossing the Mendenhall River.
Here's to more good times and good stories.