Mendenhall Glacier Hike


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North America » United States » Alaska
July 18th 2010
Published: October 22nd 2017
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Geo: 59.2367, -135.437

(Sean here.) By far the best hike of the trip was the West Glacier trail at the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau. We started with limited time as we had a 2pm appointment at the ferry terminal to depart for Petersburg, but knew we had to get Kaia some exercise before locking her on the car deck for most of the next 24 hours (ferry life is an interesting piece in and of itself which we will discuss more later). The first mile of the hike proved to be much like the others: dense, mossy trees with an overbearing cool damp feel. At mile two, however, we started climbing and things became far more interesting. Sections of the trail steepened to stone staircases that we clambered up and down until we finally met another hiker.

"Have you guys hiked on this trail before?" the lady asked with a cautious look on her face.

“No,” I responded. “Does it get pretty hairy from here?”

“I made it about 5 more minutes up the trail, but that's about it” she answered.

We continued forward with renewed interest based on our brief interaction when we came to the section of the trail that we figured was the stopping point for our fellow traveler . . . a knotted rope leading up at 15 foot sheer rock face. We were not about to let this end the trail after we had already dropped into unknown depths of a glacier crevasse, so we grabbed the rope and pulled ourselves up over the rock. From here, the trail became exceedingly narrow and dense with tree growth to the point we felt as though we were swinging from branch to branch almost as Tarzan and Jane.

We continued in this manner until we emerged from the vegetation on top of glacially scarred rock where the trail continued to be marked by rock cairns. The cairns were not immediately identifiable so we would scramble to one, pause for a minute or two as we scanned the horizon looking for the next directional symbol, and then scurry onward as time ticked on. Finally, we reached our destination perched high above the western edge of the Mendenhall glacier with awe-inspiring views of the deep blue crevasses that seemed to deepen with each step closer to the massive chunk of ice. We captured our moment with a couple of photos and then hurried back to the car in much quicker time since we had discovered the best route on the way in.


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20th July 2010

How did Kaia make it up this rock?
22nd July 2010

Yes, how did Kaia climb up this rock wall???
29th July 2011

Kaia looks like a Golden from the picture. We hope to do Alaska next year, last of August , beginning of September. We live in Maine and will drive and will take our Golden as we will be gone about eight weeks. How did Kaia make out and did
you find Alaska pet friendly. I am enjoying your blog. JPS

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