Surrounded by mountains and waterfront, Juneau, the capital of Alaska, is a popular tourist destination. Rightly so, as it features Mendenhall Glacier and Mount Roberts Tramway as its main attractions. There are also plenty of shops to visit. Helicopter ride tours to Mendenhall Glacier are offered in town, while Mount Roberts Tramway is accessible from downtown and is just a short walk from the docks.
With each of us fitted with a pair of glacier boots, my group and I boarded the turbine helicopter for a ride to the world-famous Mendenhall Glacier. We soared over alpine ridges and forests and were treated to sights of the impressive glaciers. The route took us through an endless series of jagged peaks, deep valleys and, above all, those deep-blue crevasses which stretched across the entire glacier. Descending towards our landing site, we flew past the Mendenhall Towers – rock sentinels that stood nearly 7,000 feet. The helicopter whisked off after dropping us at our site, leaving us to soak in Alaska’s outdoor serenity. With the strong, fresh Alaskan wind blowing on our faces, we trudged across the glacier as our guide briefed us on the history of Mendenhall Glacier. We were also given the chance to taste fresh glacier water running down the stream as our guide demonstrated how to do so to the group. After which, we were back on the helicopter and headed back to civilization.
Lunch was consumed at Gold Creek Salmon Bake. We had Alaskan-caught wild salmon grilled over an open, alder wood fire finished with thick caramel sauce. Naturally, that dish had us going for seconds. As though the blueberry cake we had for dessert wasn’t enough, we gladly finished off our meal with perhaps the greatest, yet simplest, delicacy of outdoor dining: roasted marshmallows on sticks, which we prepared over the crackling campfire.
Ending off the day on a high, we took the Mount Robert Tramway which makes a six-minute ascent up through the rainforest to the 1,800-foot (540m) summit of Mt. Roberts. Panoramic views awaited us at the top, stretching from the sea up to the Silver Bow Basin. Apart from the picturesque view, Mount Roberts offers an observatory deck, dining hall, souvenir shops, and hiking trails. As the golden hues of the sun began to descend over the jagged mountains, we strolled along the trail observing and absorbing the horizon that will undoubtedly be etched in our hearts and minds for the rest of our lives.
Words & Photography by Kamal Tung