Mendenhall Glacier is located about twelve miles from Juneau, and is the fifth largest icefield in North America. It was originally known as Sitaantaagu (“the Glacier Behind the Town”) by the Tlingits, but it was renamed in honor of Thomas Corwin Mendenhall. It extends from the Juneau Icefield, its source, to Mendenhall Lake and ultimately the Mendenhall River. These beautiful pictures were taken by one if my best friends dad, whose work you can find here.
If you are not familiar with glaciers, they are made by fallen snow that, over many years, compresses into large, thickened ice masses. They form when snow remains in one location long enough to transform into ice.
The beautiful caves of the Mendenhall Glacier.
The glacier has also receded 1.75 miles since 1958, when Mendenhall Lake was created, and over 2.5 miles since 1500. The end of the glacier currently has a negative glacier mass balance and will continue to retreat in the foreseeable future due to rising temperatures.
A pretty frozen waterfall in Juneau.
In many places, glaciers are the main source of drinking water. That is a huge issue for people whose main water source is glacial water. However, with the recession of the Mendenhall Glacier comes the Mendenhall Lake which is a unique ecosystem and is poplar for sports fishing.
People in Juneau go out to the glacier to check out the beautiful caves produced and cherish the beauty, because it sadly will be gone one day with the temperatures rising at this rate. Have you ever seen a glacier?
Anchorage is the largest city in all of Alaska with a population of about 300,000. Out of the 730,000 people that live in Alaska, lots are from the Anchorage area. I really like it there because there is a good mix of urban and rural. Unlike some places where buildings take away all the beauty of towns, Anchorage has the perfect amount with Denali National Park nearby. The flight there is really pretty and really is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. I haven’t spent much time there sightseeing, because usually I have a swim meet or something, but what I have seen, I’ve liked a lot. There’s also some really good restaurants there like Mooses Tooth, Glacier Brewhouse, and Snow City Cafe. There are some good trails for skate skiing and track skiing, but there is also Alyeska which is a downhill resort. It’s pretty funny because in Alaska there are basically only two cities with actual shopping malls in them: Anchorage and Fairbanks. Some of my friends have actually flown to Anchorage just to shop at normal stores while here in California there is shopping basically everywhere.
A moose munching away on some shrubs.
There some great wildlife in Anchorage like moose, bears and eagles. Have you ever been to Anchorage?
Eaglecrest, Juneau Alaska is a great small ski area. From going at age 6 till 15, I started with the super tiny “green circle” runs and worked my way up.
It is a great place to learn how to ski. I had weekly lessons for a couple years. At first I really disliked being cold and my feet getting really tired, so the only enjoyable part of it was getting candy from the instructor after each run. But as I grew up I began to appreciate how lucky I was to live only 30 minutes away from Eaglecrest.
It was like a really small community because everyone basically knew everyone else. There isn’t very many runs but but is a good place to learn how to ski. There is also a Nordic ski area at the bottom of the mountain where my parents would go often and skate ski or track ski.
It is really pretty up there regardless of the season. During the summer I have gone up and berry picked, and hiked. Then in the winter, of course skiing and sledding too.
Every year there was a really cool competition called The Slush Cup. People of all ages with the courage to possibly submerge into a pool of ice water enter. It is usually during the end of the ski season in April. At the bottom of a run, a huge rectangular pool of slush water is made. Competitors dress up funny and try to make it across the water skiing. My brother Evan did it a few years ago and actually made it across.
What’s your favorite ski area you’ve been to?
Alaskan Oil has always been a really big deal for both the state and the nation.
The Trans-Alaskan Pipeline System (TAPS) includes the crude oil pipeline is one of the longest pipelines in the world stretching 800 miles from Prudhoe Bay to Valdez, Alaska.
Photo by Ryan McFarland, Wikipedia Commons, 2005
It was a very long process to make this pipeline run cross state. It started to be built in 1969, and the first barrel of oil to travel the pipeline was in 1977. As of 2010, the pipeline has almost 16 million barrels of oil. Thats a lot! On a average day about 600,000 barrels are moved across the pipeline. It peaked in 1988 when 2.1 millions barrels of oil were moved daily. Each year the amount of oil is going down which is showing the extreme use of the state’s resources.
Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wikipedia Commons, 1969
Because of the success of the pipeline, all Alaskan Citizens are giving an annual PFD (Permanent Fund Dividend) which is usually $500-2000 depending on the success of the pipeline that year. It is returning a percentage of the revenue back to the Alaskans.
When my family and I drove up to Fairbanks we saw the pipeline.
Wikipedia Commons, 2002
Have you ever seen the pipeline in your life?
Petersburg AK, a small 3,200 person town. It’s known as Little Norway because it was bought by Norwegian fishermen 100 years ago. Petersburg is on the northern part of Mitkof Island, nearby Wrangell. It has one of the largest commercial fishing ports in the world! It also has the largest home-based halibut fleet in Alaska. During the summer there can be lots of tourists from small cruise ships, by ferry, but during the winter it is much more isolated.
Here is our cabin that overlooks the Wrangell Narrows
The entire town basically revolves around fishing, since it was founded by fishermen. Everyone is related in some way, by their dad being a fisherman, to a friend, or brother. My family has a cute cabin ten miles out the road. Basically every time I am there, while driving out to our cabin, we see multiple deer just munching away at grass. Our cabin overlooks the Wrangell Narrows and the water goes right up to our cabin, since our cabin is on stilts. It has a great view at sunset with the sun reflecting on the waters.
At high tide the water goes right underneath the cabin
Mayfest is annual festival Petersburg has which is in celebration of the town’s Norwegian culture. There is music, a parade, a walk/run race, lots of both Alaskan and Norwegian food, and much more. I’ve been to several Mayfests before which are usually right around my birthday, so it is a lot of fun!
Downtown there is basically one street that has all the shops and few restaurants that are all family owned, and everyone really does know everyone else. I really like Petersburg, and I’m excited to be spending a lot of time this summer there at our cabin. Do you think you would like to visit Petersburg, Alaska?
I’ve been to several really nice hot springs in Alaska. Hot springs are produced by the emergence of geothermally heated groundwater from the Earth’s crust. Some have a really strong nasty sulfur scent, but others don’t have it nearly as bad. Here’s three great hot springs in Alaska that I would recommend to anyone that is in the area any time soon!
1. Baranof Hot Springs
On the eastern side of Baranof Island, this location has a large dock where you can park your boat. Then you can walk up the boardwalk for about 15 minutes till you get near the waterfall where there is a really small hot springs hiding. I would have to say that this is probably my favorite of the three because of how deep into the forest and pretty it is, and the great view of the waterfall.
There are a few different small pools, and all get to overlook a huge rushing waterfall. It’s even fun to go to hot springs on rainy days so you can warm you up.
2. White Sulfur Hot Springs
This one is located Chichagof Island about 65 miles northwest of Sitka. This is an absolutely gorgeous location for a warm springs, with one outdoor, and an indoor. I have been here tons of times with my family. If you ever do end up going to this one, just be aware that you may run into a group of naked people., which can be a bit awkward at times. There is a fun rope swing in the indoor springs, and theres some really cool artwork people that visited it carved into the wood walls of the building.
3. Cheena Hot Springs
Located northeast of Fairbanks, this is a absolutely stunning place. I visited this one when my family and I road tripped across Alaska. The hot springs are huge and there is a really cool Ice museum and also there is a dog kennel where you can actually try dog mushing. This one is a bit more touristy than the other two because of the resort, but it still has a great hot spring. Also, if you go at the right time of year, you can get a awesome view of the northern lights. How perfect would it be to be in a nice huge hot springs, while watching colorful northern lights right above your head.
Have you ever been to a hot spring? If so, where?
A few years ago while I was at a swim meet in Fairbanks, Alaska, one evening my team I went to go check out the World Ice Art Championship. It was possibly one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. There were rows and rows of the most exquisite ice sculptures that people spent days working on.
A ballerina beautifully spinning on top of a finger.
The weather was about -35 F so it was freezing, but that didn’t stop us from looking at every sculpture. The process is really interesting because each person is given a huge block of ice that was harvested from a nearby pond, and over 1,500 tons of ice are used for the competition! Each sculpture can only be worked on for several days, than judged. People from all over the world come to compete for the honor of being the worlds best ice sculptor.
A mask at the Ice Championship.
Here’s the big sign at the front of the entrance.
Freezing slides everywhere.
Along with the magnificent sculptures there were lit up slides made up ice. Also, there were ice mazes where basically you and your friends all start on one side and race through the maze to see who can get to the other end first, and not going to lie, it was pretty scary having this huge ice blocks towering over you, and pitch blackness, while being confused and lost, but that didn’t stop me from having a great time.
Would you like to visit this place?
A couple posts I talked about a place called Elfin Cove which is a little community of about 50 people. However, today I am here to talk about a place even more unheard of. This place is called Chatham, which is located in Southeast Alaska, with the closest town about a 20 minute boat ride, and an hour or so away from Sitka. It was originally a cannery, but after that closed, it was uninhabited until my Grandpa and another person decided to buy the land to make something of it.
Here’s my Grandpa’s old cabin he had there, which was recently demolished by a storm, so a new place was built.
They worked to save what buildings were left, rebuilding what needed to be rebuilt and making it a cute rustic area. My family and I come and visit here and go fishing and crabbing inside this tucked away bay during the summer. During the winter only a caretaker lives here to watch the place, but during the summer there is typically only 2-3 people living here, as well as occasional visitors. Food is either flown in by float planes or boats bring food from town.
Here’s a population sign I made when I was younger which usually has a very small number on it. Every time someone comes, they change the sign.
I absolutely love it here, from walked on the very isolated beaches collecting beach glass, to making fresh berry syrup, it’s a great place to escape, get away and relax. There used to be a hammock made from a net that hung from two tall pilings where I would lay and read for hours at a time.
It’s an absolutely stunning place in Alaska and I cherish every memory I had there, and hope to make more in the future.
Do you think you would like to visit such a isolated place?
Throughout my childhood, my Grandmother owned a place in a tiny town in Southeast Alaska where my family and I would visit during the summer. It was very remote: only 50 people or less lived there year round.
The first time I went, I was only a couple days old, and my family took out our boat. From then on, we would visit almost every summer.
There was a buoy swing which my siblings and I would go to for hours at a time. Each year I grew up I would get the nerves to go up another rung of the ladder.
It was a total fishing town where tourists would go in the summer and go learn to fish, and there were many people who commercial fished as well. Elfin Cove is basically made up of a wooden boardwalk which makes a loop around the town, two docks and a tiny general store.
Countless hours were spent picking berries, baking delicious foods and walking in the rain. I felt a little sad when I found out that my Grandma sold her cabin, because I’m growing up and no longer a little girl anymore. My sister, our friend Rosie and I would go into the woods, and make it be as if we were going into an alternate universe which we made up.
Do you think you would like to visit a place like Elfin Cove?
I have always loved sunsets, no matter where I am. From being isolated out in a boat watching the sunset, to walking along the beaches in California, they can be so beautiful. During sunsets, slowly less and less light is available, and that darkness is breaking. I took this top picture during the summer in Juneau, while I was staying with my friend who lives out the road. We went down to the beach and watched the sunset. Leave in the comments below where the best place you think is to watch sunsets are. I love to explore new places and seeing what more the world has to offer.
This next photograph I took during my first month of being in Santa Barbara. My sister and I had to walk our dog Sophie, who made the corner of this shot. We went down to Thousand Stair Beach, and went swimming and had a little photo shoot. Another great place in Santa Barbara to watch the sunset is on the pier.
This final photo I took in June while I was working on my aunts boat- I will talk more about my summer job in a different post. It was so peaceful feeling the cold air brushing against my face as I leaned out of the boat to take this picture. In Alaska, during the summer there is so much light, compared to winter when there is very few hours of light, so you have to appreciate what mother nature has to offer.