Friday, August 14, 2015

Juneau, Whale Watching and Mendenhall Glacier

As we sailed into Juneau, we saw a tug boat pulling a loaded barge up the was funny to see how small the vehicles looked.

 I guess everything in Alaska is BIG!

Juneau, the capital, has more modern buildings, and lots of shopping.  Our tour for whale watching and glacier visit started early, so off the boat we went, to meet up with our guides.

Our guide Bess was knowledgeable and fun.  We boarded a boat that was built specifically for whale watching.  As we pulled out of the harbor, we saw several eagles. 

After about a 20 minute boat ride, eureka!  A pod of humpback whales...laws prohibit the boats from getting too close. I was beginning to regret that I hadn't brought my 35 over it quickly..oh well, I've haven't used it in years, the point and shoots are so darn convenient!

 As we headed back toward land, we saw Dahl's porpoises (very hard to photograph,

 and more eagles.  Also lion seals, otters...more makes my heart feel good to see unspoiled nature.

We could see Mendenhall Glacier from our boat.  Our naturalist told us how whales and glaciers are related:  the moraine flows into the ocean, where it provides nutrients for plankton, krill, the whale eats it...the circle of life.

Back on land, we headed toward the Mendenhall trails, lake, glacier.  The receding glacier has formed a lake, and the moraine has started to fill in with rain forest.  We started out on the oldest part of the forest (25 years old), and as we walked toward the glacier, entered the younger parts.
Older, more dense, taller trees.

Younger forest.

Our guide was big time into eating mushrooms...he knew the edible from the poisonous.  His lady friend was there harvesting 'shrooms for the evening meal.  He was bringing the booze...we liked this guy.  

Lichens everywhere.

This is Devil's Club, thorny plant used by natives for everything...medicinal, etc.

This boulder came from far away...nobody knows how it got there.


 Moraine just showing growth.

 Then we saw the glacier, with waterfall on the right.  

Robert and Patty, no flash.

Robert and Patty, flash.  Looks photoshopped, doesn't it?

Next we walked to a stream with salmon swimming upstream to spawn.  Didn't see any bears...these were sockeye.  We did see a porcupine in a tree. 

We knocked around Juneau for a bit, had a salmon burger, looked in some shops, headed back to the ship.  Juneau's airport is on an island across the passage.  You have to take a ferry to get there.  I like this pic...shows the transportation possibilities of Juneau, or Ketchikan, plane, boat, seaplane.

The float plane dock...not something you see in Bakersfield!

I could watch these planes take off and land all day!

Tomorrow, Tracey Arm Fjord!

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