Juneau, surrounded by waterways, rugged mountainsides and glaciers, is the only capital of the United States that is inaccessible by road. We sailed into its lovely port this morning as a heavy fog lifted and revealed the surrounds. Juneau is situated at the foot of the Juneau Icefield, home to 38 major glaciers.
After disembarking, we caught a local bus out to the Mendenhall Glacier where we were lucky enough to enjoy a pleasant few hours hiking some easy trails that allowed us to view the glacier under lovely sunshine. We saw squirrels and hedgehogs, beaver dams and salmon swimming upstream, but unfortunately no bears. One path had been closed due to the large number of bears feeding on the salmon, so we missed our chance to spot them.
The glacier itself was amazing, with vibrant blue colours running through the ice. It stood above the river, moving imperceptibly at a snail's pace. Big chunks of ice that had broken away, also in beautiful shades of blue, floated on the water below.
A torrential waterfall fell nearby, close to the glacier, setting a majestic scene. We snapped hundreds of photos trying to capture it awesomeness, but I fear we failed. The loveliness of some things is beyond capture.
On returning to Juneau we ascended Mt Roberts on the aerial tramway which lifted us from the historic waterfront area to the mountain station 1,800 feet above the city. Believe it or not, the hiking trails from here take you even higher, availing even more breathtaking, panoramic views of the city and waterways below.
Juneau was founded as a result of gold. In fact, the first major gold discovery of Alaska was made here. By 1944 the local mines were mostly out of production and today the main focus is government, tourism and commercial fishing. It is quite a pretty city, but more modern than Ketchikan, and with less of that rugged frontier feel about it. We departed Juneau at nine in the evening, sailing off into a calm, cool night. Tomorrow we reach Skagway and ride the Yukon Railroad.