4-Wheel Adventures & An Alaskan Spa Treatment

While my sister was visiting we made arrangements to borrow a couple of extra 4-wheelers and hit the trails, which is one of our favorite things to do during the summer.  The dogs are quite accustomed to riding in our side-by-side and quickly jump in the rig to go.  Apparently, Stoli thought he was driving this time!

Since we went on a weekday there were only a handful of other people out on the trails so we had the area pretty much to ourselves.  It had rained quite a bit the week prior to our outing so there were several areas of standing water to navigate.  The trail from the parking lot is fairly wooded until it opens up near the river.

This particular location has a variety of trails that criss-cross each other so we had many to choose from.  We let the Hubs lead with the goal of getting as close to the glacier as possible.

As we approached the sandy area along the river, Stoli decided that he didn’t want to ride and since we didn’t let him drive, he hopped out and led the caravan at a run.

Along the river the trail opens up to a wide sandy shoreline and vegetated sand dunes off to the left.

There were some larger vehicles up on the dunes, so we opted to stay along the river heading toward the glacier, which we could see in the distance.

My sister got a pretty good shot of her hubby on the 4-wheeler with the glacier in the background when we paused to consider the trails we could take from this point.

We decided to hang out on the shore and let the dogs play a bit before continuing so they could get some energy out, while my sister walked the beach looking for good shots.

Stoli led the way when we decided to head out along the river bank as far as we could go before heading up into the tree line.

You’re probably wondering where the spa treatment part of the title for this post comes in by now.  Well I’m about to tell you.  The trails got pretty muddy once we headed into the trees and we soon realized the river was too high to cross so we started exploring the wooded trails.

While fording a larger puddle my brother-in-law had a little mishap and ended up tipping his rig over right in the deepest part of the puddle, coating his entire right side in silty muddy water.  Once we made sure that both he and the rig were ok, we all enjoyed a good laugh about the moment and I teased him that women pay big money to be shipped glacier mud for facials and he just coated almost his entire body for free! 🙂

My sister was apparently too stunned to get a shot of him in said puddle before we pulled him out, but I’m sure you can imagine the sight.

Once we got the rig running again we made a b-line for the truck so we could get him warmed up and dried out.  We didn’t make it to the glacier but it was a fun outing regardless.  While they didn’t get to take their picture on the glacier I did get some shots of my sister along the beautiful river that’s just minutes from our house in Hatcher Pass.

I tried to take her up to the historic Independence Mine at the top of the pass that day, but the fog had rolled in, hiding the mine.  We made it as far as the red cabins at the main parking lot before calling it and heading back down the river.

I’m glad they both got to experience a bit of the local sights and outdoor adventures this area of Alaska offers.  Plus they went home with several fun stories to share – which is always the sign of a great trip!

Juneau: Part II (Mendenhall Glacier)

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.

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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?

GlacierTrail

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!

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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.

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GlacierTrailBlueBergThere 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.

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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!

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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.

Falls

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.

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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!

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There was also an interesting sign showing just how much the glacier had receded and how the falls used to flow through the glacier.

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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.

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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! 😉