Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tracy Arm Fjord and Juneau

The main reason we splurged on a stateroom with a balcony....Tracy Arm Fjord. We knew that part of our itinerary would be scenic cruising and we liked the idea of not having to fight for balcony space up on the top decks. Boy, oh boy was it worth it!
Tracy Arm Fjord is a little over 30 miles long and only a mile and a half wide, with tall mountains on either side. It is without a doubt, one of the most beautiful things in nature I have ever seen. I was so overwhelmed by it all that I actually found myself tearing up a bit...
We were scheduled to enter the fjord at 6:00 AM. When I awoke to my alarm and peeked out the curtains, I was rewarded with a view of water like glass and a piece of blue ice floating by. Holy wow! I quickly dressed, threw on a hat, jacket and gloves for added warmth...and then headed quietly out onto our balcony with binoculars, camera and extra long lens. I left Bryan sleeping inside figuring that I'd wake him when were were deeper into the fjord and the ice started coming with more regularity.

 First looks at Sawyer Glacier. Do you see it there in the middle of those two mountains?

Getting closer.....
Look at that massive thing! Is that not amazingly cool? We were actually not able to get as close as they can later in the summer...the captain felt that there were still too many big pieces of floating ice and it just wouldn't be safe. So much to my disappointment, we had to turn around and head back out of the fjord at this point. All the same, I was awestruck by the view that we did get. And comforted to realize that Bryan and I had booked an excursion for later in the day that was going to get us up close and personal with Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau.

After Bryan got up, he wanted to get some breakfast but I couldn't stand the thought of leaving and missing a single thing. The sweet man went up to the buffet and brought back plate fulls of various breakfast offerings to our room. And hot chocolate....which was especially appreciated because it was pretty cold out there as I'm sure you can imagine!

A few hours later we arrived in Juneau. Where other excursions got you close to the Mendenhall Glacier....kayaking at the base of it, hiking near it...Bryan booked a helicopter ride to not only fly above it, but actually land on it! We've done a helicopter ride once before, while in Kauai a few years ago. And I unfortunately (and embarrassingly) lost my lunch while up in the air. I was 4 months pregnant at the time which is what I think made all the difference. All the same, I wasn't taking any chances and I downed some motion sickness medicine just to be on the safe side. I also probably worried the pilot slightly by asking where the barf bags were, just in case. But it was all for naught. Smooth flying and all was well.

These pictures do not do the experience justice. Nor can I find adequate words to describe how truly amazing it all was. It was kind of hard to wrap my brain around the fact that I was on top of a glacier!!!

We landed and climbed out of the helicopter with the aid of a glacier guide...some young (very TALL) guy from Utah, actually. He was rather excited to meet some people from home and we laughed a little about the cold complaints from the other people in our group. We Utahns...yeah, we know how to do cold.
Bryan got really nervous when I tried to get an up-close shot of the water draining down deep into the glacier. Heaven forbid I slip and get myself flushed down....what a way to go! He held onto me so he could pull me back if need be....the hole is bigger than it looks.

We were able to explore the glacier for about 30 minutes before the helicopter came back to get us. We drank icy glacier water, found out what makes the ice blue (ice density) and played "see how many mountain goats you can pick out near that waterfall over there...." Mostly we just looked around in jaw-dropping awe.
Our Utah glacier guide offered to take pictures and complimented me on my idea of the two of us straddling a deep crack. When at the last second Bryan dropped down to peek under my legs, he laughed good and hard...said it was probably the best picture he'd ever taken up on the glacier. I think this is my very favorite picture from the whole trip.

 Juneau from the air...

After our glacier experience, we went to a salmon bake. If you like salmon, hard to beat the fresh stuff from Alaska. It started raining while we were there but the whole thing was under a big, extended tent set-up so we stayed plenty dry. We grabbed an umbrella and explored the surrounding wooded area after we were done eating. Pretty waterfall. Great day.

Next: Skagway

Tracy Arm Fjord and Juneau
Victoria BC and Ship Life


Mindy said...

I love these pictures! That glacier is amazing!
I know i'm going to end up there someday, Mike is so ready to go back.

Melissa@thebblog said...

that looks like so much fun. amazing and beautiful and a once in a lifetime experience. And, you look way cute! the cold weather and ice boots suite you!

Katie said...

Oh wow! You are making me very jealous! I don't think Jeremy would go for an Alaskan cruise because he thinks vacationing should be somewhere warm with a beach. Maybe someday!