Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Helicopter Ride over the Juneau Ice Field

After our excellent tour on the Mendenhall Glacier we had a nice extended fly over the Juneau Ice Field. An amazing basin filled with snow and ice, 100 miles long and 45 miles wide. It's the birthplace of 38 named glaciers. It was so neat seeing the beginning of the Mendenhall.
 
In this picture, you can see the pilot but also the Mendenhall and its medial moraine.








Look at all those mountains, and snow! The farthest mountains are in Canada.
The below picture is the Norris Glacier.

The next picture is the Taku glacier. This was a neat glacier to see because it's advancing unlike so many others off the icefield. 





On the descent down to the airport.

And full circle, you can see the Mendenhall glacier beyond the trees.
It was such an amazing trip, the guides were excellent and the helicopter ride was even enjoyable. I never thought I'd say that!


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Helicopter to the Mendenhall Glacier

This is going to be the coolest. And the longest blog post ever. I apologize in advance...but the pictures are just so cool!
I've been working in Alaska for the past two and a half months at the Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau Alaska. I've got a month and a half left to go before heading back to Idaho. Last week Andrew came up and spent a whole week with me. We got to be tourists, and oh man was it fun. We'd been saving up and we managed to fit in some great things.
One of those days the weather was Juneau perfection! Clear, sunny and even a little hot in the sun. After weeks of rain, the sun was welcome!
And we decided to do a flightseeing tour on the glacier! Via helicopter... That's really the only way to get up to this part. Other than a crazy hike.


So up we went, in our first helicopter ride and our first-ever walk on a glacier. I don't even like flying in planes and I must say... I LOVED it! It was exciting, and fun! The views were breathtaking. And maybe that's why it didn't bother me as much as I thought it would. I suppose if I died, the view on the way down would be spectacular. : )


The orange tent is where the guides hang out during the day. 

Bye helicopter!
 

 
Andrew putting on his gloves. And my new favorite picture of myself (below). We were decked out in all the gear. Our tour included a 2 hour hike on the glacier! Not just a quick out and back like some other tours. We got helmets, glacier boots, crampons, an ice axe, a harness and a giant carabineer. Which really made me wonder what the hell I'd gotten myself into.



Water moves throughout a glacier, creating these beautiful scenes. And moulins, where water rushes down into a cavernous hole. They anchored us and let us walk to the edge. Carabineer use #1

 
Here's Andrew walking up from the Moulin. The Mendenhall glacier is 13 miles long. From this spot we were about 2 miles from where I work every day. It was surreal finally being on the glacier!







This pool was crazy. It was so deep and blue. This is where we filled up our water bottles with glacier water. Yum. And thankfully, we didn't get giardia. 







Carabineer use #2. Down into an ice cave. They anchored us again, this time belaying us down into this ice cave. It was awesome. I only went a few steps down...because I was scared. Andrew went farther and got the pictures.  


Andrew looks so annoyed in this picture. It makes me giggle.



 The largest erratic I've ever seen. And a bergstrom. A place on the side of a glacier where the ice pulls away from the rock. Sometime these features can go all the way down to the bottom and under the glacier. It was great being able to see the features I've learned so much about in the past couple months.




 
Up next is the helicopter ride back. We had the longer tour so we got to fly up and over the Juneau Ice Field. It was such a treat and there are even more pictures that I thought would be a little much adding them into the post too.
 
What an experience we had. I am so glad we had this chance to be daring(daring for me, at least) and do something we might never do again.