Juneau Alaska- Glaciers and some very grumpy people.

photograph of downtown juneau alaska by susan sheldon nolen © 2013

What luck! Off the boat and showers just ended. Juneau is at the foot of steep hills. They hunk over the town  like giants about to wake up.  I was off in hunt of a door to photograph and a decent cup of espresso. The town has always thrived on travellers, those hunting gold, and now tourists hunting deals on diamond jewellery, tee shirts and other tourist tat. Juneau started out as a native fishing camp, but when  a mother lode of gold found in the Silver Bow Basin, history was made and a town born.

copyright shs 2013The area is dark, foreboding,  I always think of Emily Carr’s painting of “Odds and Ends”, and how primordial the forests of the northwest feels in comparison to England’s open forests with naughty Nottingham sheriffs.

English: Odds and Ends, by Emily Carr (1871-1945)

English: Odds and Ends, by Emily Carr (1871-1945) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The area has old growth trees from 200 to 700 years old. The Sitka Spruce dominates the landscape.

photograph of juneau stairs by she 2013In between shops were steep stairs leading to the streets above and the backs of houses. In the bottom right hand corner of this photograph is a handle to a very heavy rubbish bin lid, bear proofing. Yes, they too come into town, maybe not for an espresso, but rubbish delights. Town only had so much to offer, so it was off to the Mendenhall Glacier.


There is a fabulous trail right down to the Glacier, but pay attention to your time. I was strolling down causally taking photos wondering why on earth everyone was rushing back up towards the top of the trail. I kept thinking why rush back, there’s only another tee-shirt to buy. But then I thoughts, crumbs a bear, how exciting, but no such luck. In the meanwhile….photograph of mendenhall glacier by she 2013

The scenery was breathtaking, the trail down, reasonably steep. It was incredibly hot for this time of year and it was the old strip off of winter jackets. twocalvesshsA few more people rush past me whilst I stopped to admire these three ice calves.  Still a distance from the waterfall that I wanted to get to, I noticed that the trail was getting just a tad empty. Maybe there was a bear down there. Never mind eh, this is after all Alaska.atthebottomshs

This was worth the walk down. The noise was tremendous. But where else in the world do you get to see this massive waterfall and a glacier at the same time. I had one more shot to get.

I wanted to stand here forever with the sound of the waterfall just behind me, but then I really noticed no one was about. I looked at my watch and yikes…my bus was going to leave in ten minutes. So there I was racing back up the short trail, which was getting longer by the minute. No longer worried about bears, I kept thinking to myself, it didn’t take that long to get down to the bottom, did it?

It’s funny when you get on a bus full of grumpy people waiting for you to trundle along. All you can really do is smile, repeatedly say sorry, slump down in your seat, catch your breath, and studiously scroll through your photos. Ahem…I did say sorry..but in retrospect this last photo should have given me some clue as to how far I had to walk and with an iPhone and a watch…what excuse could there be? Not even a bear to blame!

photograph of mendenhall glacier by susan sheldon nolen 2013

About susan sheldon nolen

It’s rare to catch me without coffee, a form of camera, or my beloved wire fox terriers. I love the history, the art, and it’s a massive part of my life, as I either paint, write, or get interrupted by my dogs, reminding me of the real world. I hope you enjoy your time here. It’s such a privilege to have readers.
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9 Responses to Juneau Alaska- Glaciers and some very grumpy people.

  1. Carrie Rubin says:

    Fun to see these pictures since it wasn’t that long ago I was there myself. Makes me want to go back!

  2. Your photos are breath taking. Brings back some great memories.
    The glacier has receded quite a bit since I was there last. I should have expected it, since it was ten years ago.

  3. This may sound crazy to say, but I don’t think I really understand how glaciers move!? Do you see them moving or is so infinitessimal it’s unnoticeable? How do you know if you’re looking at a glacier or just a big ice covered mountainside?
    Regardless of all the above, your photos are magnificent! 🙂

    • Thanks!!!
      .I don’t think you can seeing them moving. I don’t have the patience for that. But they sort of creep for the lack of a better explanation. The Glacier boys have their measuring tapes and what not! I wish the photos could really bring you there! It was stunning!

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