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HomeNL-2012-08 Juneau Glacier

Juneau Glacier Canoe Trip
June 2012
by Mark Andrus

I decided to take an Alaskan cruise the week before I had a American Association of Attorney-CPAs meeting in Seattle. The first stop was in Juneau where I took the Mendenhall Glacier Canoe trip. The canoe is about 24 feet long with a Tlingit Indian canoe design, although done in fiberglass. The young woman guide sits at the stern using a rowing rig that you can see in the photograph. The trip starts at a beach at Lake Mendenhall. I was issued a PFD, paddle and slip on rain pants. I did not need a rain jacket since I brought my own waterproof shell jacket. I knew that it can get cold around glaciers even in June so I had on a long sleeve mid-weight polyester base layer and a thick polyester shirt.

We paddled about a mile and a half to reach the glacier, which is much further than it used to require. The glacier started one hundred years ago pretty close to where we put in. Maybe about twenty years ago, it started around the ranger station halfway up the lake. We enjoyed the scenery along the way which included seeing bald eagles and the ability to touch small icebergs and bergy bits in the lake. We were able to paddle to about 100 yards away from the glacier. We did not get closer because of the possibility of the glacier calving. If you look at the picture of the glacier, you will see a blue area about one o’clock on the stern of the boat. The blue spot is where the glacier had recently calved. I am the one closest to the stern wearing a Rice baseball cap. On the way back, we stopped for a snack by a 300 foot waterfall. The snack was a salmon spread.


Mark at the glacier    Waterfall

When we got back to the beach, we saw a group with a different company put in kayaks. I got concerned when I found out that they were novices without a guide. The water in the lake is not much above freezing so they could run into trouble if they could not do an Eskimo roll or rescue. I learned to paddle in Texas where it is not so cold.

I went to Sitka after that where I took the Russian cultural tour. One of the stops on the trip was the Shelton Jackson Museum where there were native canoes and kayaks hung from the roof with the paddles and other equipment at eye level. Juneau has the Alaska State Museum that also has native canoes and kayaks. I did not go this trip to the Alaska State Museum, but I had been there on a previous trip.

I saw the Aleutian Ballad fishing boat in Ketchikan and Buchard Gardens in Victoria. I went by the flagship REI store in Seattle. One of the AAA-CPA meetings was at the Space needle. I saw the Red Sox play at the Mariners.


Mark Andrus