It's all a matter of perspective.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I have just arrived home from Juneau, Alaska, where my wife and I spent a lovely week as the privileged guests of Mr. and Mrs. Gottschlich. The lovely Tracy is a lifelong friend of my sweet wife (Miss J. spent her formative years in Juneau) and this was the second time that she has invited us to visit. Our friends have a lovely house, a lovely family, a lovely town, and an amazing way with hospitality.

Our last visit to Juneau was in July; the time of year that tricks people into moving up there. It was 75 degrees, sunny, cool, with 20 or so hours of daylight every day. This visit, in April, was the exact opposite. It either rained a steady and thick mist, or dropped giant snowflakes the whole week. The temperature hovered around freezing. It never really looked like daytime.

I am not the outdoorsman that I was when I was younger, but still, you go to Alaska, you have to get out and hike, right? So I did. I made two nice hikes, about two miles from our friend's house, both at a lovely US Forest Service park that surrounds the Mendenhall Glacier. I hiked there a little bit last visit too. This is what it looks like in the summer:

Pretty, huh. A gigantic glacier swoops down from the Juneau Icefield where its retreat has left a beautiful lake. To stand at this spot in July and take a picture feels like standing in front of a huge air conditioner vent. My host, Mr. Gottschlich works for Temsco in the summertime and leads groups of tourists on Helicopter tours of the Glacier. Nice gig!

This is the same spot in April:

As you can see, the lake is totally frozen, the mountain tops are covered by snow clouds, and you wish you would have worn a warmer coat.

The day this picture was taken, it was actually warm enough that it was raining instead of snowing, and the ice on the ground was melting. I hit the trail and managed to make it about a mile and a half when I ran into this:
Hard to tell from the picture, but it slopes uphill pretty steep, and right to left pretty steep. There is a steady stream of meltwater running across the icy path, and nothing on either side of the trail to hold on to. I decided to retreat and come back another day.

Finally, on our last full day in AK, Miss J decided to spare me another trip to Fred Meyer and let me go out in the woods again. Lucky for me, this is what I saw when I walked outside:
Frisbee sized snowflakes. The trail will not be icy today! The only problem was the footprints were snowed under and I had a hard time following along. Here are a few pictures of things I noticed along the way:

Frozen Waterfall

Moss Covers Everything

Glacier and Waterfall from above

Nugget Creek Trail

East Glacier Trail

This is looking almost straight up at the sun shining down the side of the mountain
Moraine Ecology Trail
This was a covered spot on the trail with a park bench where I sat and caught my breath.


jeanetta said...

so pretty. glad you gus had a good time

Kimberly said...

Beautiful! The difference between the first two pictures is amazing.

Capt. Flipout said...

Beautiful. Guess you did NOT fly American Airlines? I did. Not sure I could get home quiker on foot. Stuck in Albuquerque!

J4 said...

Thanks for the great pictures and memories of Juneau. After we moved back to Arkansas, I thought of Alaska every day for about 7 or 8 years...

Miss J's dad

J4 said...

Thanks for the great pictures and the memories they brought of Juneau. After we moved back to Arkansas, I thought of Alaska every day for 7 or 8 years.

Miss J's dad

John Barber said...

I love you guys. Just wanted to say that.

Tricia said...

Wow - those first two pictures are really cool. Glad y'all are back and had fun!

I read your comment to Jana. Sweet Nathan - always the encourager. You're just wonderful.

Luv - Tricia :-)

John Barber said...

Hey - don't know if you saw, but I've reentered the blogging game, kinda like Jordan coming back to play for the Wizards, I guess. Check me.

Love you, my homie.