Our second adventure in Juneau was visiting Mendenhall Glacier. We first viewed it on a wonderfully partly cloudy day from a picnic area on the far side of the lake that the glacier has formed. The massive Nugget Falls is just to the right of the glacier, and being able to see it across the massive lake gave me a sense of just how big it really was. It was an amazing location for a portrait session – trees, stone buildings, glacier, lake and a sandy beach. Sigh.
We only had a brief time to sit and enjoy the view before I was needed for work activities, but we agreed that it was worth checking out the trail we’d heard would get us right up next to the glacier when I had my day off during the trip. So despite a light drizzle, we found the park where the trail head was located. There was a great view from the pavilion next to the parking lot. Notice the icebergs in the lake?
But I’d heard the trail would take us right to the foot of Nugget Falls and I wasn’t leaving until I’d at least attempted it, so off we went. The trail was pretty well maintained and fairly level although there were a few puddles we had to avoid. At one point it looked like the trail led directly to the glacier itself!
Along the way we had a better view of the ice bergs, which turned out to be a perch for a lone eagle – at least for a while.
There was a fork in the trail a little ways in, with one way leading to the falls and the other leading to a photo view point. We decided to head to the falls first since that was the longer route and we weren’t sure how long the rain would hold off. Along the way we spotted this plaque dedicated to a local wolf. I don’t know Romeo’s story, but can take a pretty good guess based on this tribute.
The sound of the falls got louder as we approached and we caught glimpses of it around several bends. Then we rounded the final bend and saw this!
I walked out on the little beach to photograph the falls head on. The falls were so strong it produced a strong breeze, which directed a constant spray of mist right at me. I could only get in one or two shots before the entire lens was covered. The people standing next to the falls give you a perspective on size.
From here I looked back out at the lake and realized just how far away those ice burgs were! It didn’t seem that far when we saw them from the viewpoint, but the great Alaskan wilderness is always larger than it seems.
After I took a few pictures the hubs and I sat and took in the wonder of it all for a bit. The area was pretty much deserted besides the other couple you see in the photo above, but soon groups of people started arriving in a steady stream, signaling the arrival of a tour bus, so we decided to head back up the trail before the crowd became overwhelming. Back at the fork, the hubs took a break to rest his knee and I proceeded out to the viewpoint, which offered a nice vantage point to see the glacier, falls and ice bergs!
There was also an interesting sign showing just how much the glacier had receded and how the falls used to flow through the glacier.
The viewpoint also gave a different perspective to the size of Nugget Falls, as I could see the crowd of tourists now gathered on the sandy beach where we’d just been.
I snapped a few photos for some solo tourists who wanted the scenery in the background and then headed back to the fork to reconnect with the hubs. By then the clouds had rolled in and we decided to move on to another adventure, which turned out to be the right decision since it started to pour just as we pulled out of the parking lot! WordPress won’t let me post the video I took at the foot of the falls so check it out on my Facebook page instead! And if you’re not a fan already go ahead and click “Like” while you’re there! 😉