Saturday, July 2, 2011

Alaskan Adventure Part Two: Tracy Arm and Juneau

Of the entire trip, Wednesday was my favorite.  What we saw and experienced that day was everything and more that I dreamed Alaska would be.  To see the beauty of God's creation in that manner was unlike anything I have ever seen, and I was humbled and awed.

We began with an early morning, rising at 5:45 to secure a prime location for our ship's cruise into Tracy Arm Fjord.  The day before we searched for the best location from which to watch the ship's movements into and out of the fjord, as it would be a four hour ordeal, from 6-10 a.m., and since we didn't want to have Connor outdoors for most of that time, the spot we found was perfect.  On the highest level of the ship there was a nightclub with huge windows looking out at both the front and back of the ship, so we had perfect views no matter which direction the ship itself was traveling.  There were also doors nearby which led to a balcony on the back of the ship, which was perfect for photos once the ship had stopped near the glacier later in the morning. 

As we traveled slowly through the inlet to reach the closest point to the glacier, we were all anticipating what we might see.  At first we mostly saw gorgeous green mountainsides, but as we sailed closer to the glacier, icebergs began to appear in the water around us.  It obviously wasn't a dangerous situation, as we were nagivating very slowly and purposefully toward the glacier, but I couldn't help but think of all the books I have read about the Titanic, and seeing some of these icebergs made me shudder just a bit.

The most amazing sight, however, emerged when the boat turned and we got a glimpse of the glacier.  I have said many times in life that things have been "breath-taking" but that was truly the case with this sight.  The pictures do not nearly do justice to how amazing, awe-inspiring, and simply enormous this sight of nature was.  It reminded me of what an amazing world God created, especially seeing it in this raw, untouched form.

As the boat sailed away from Tracy Arm I wasn't sure that the day could get any more beautiful, but the most fun part of our trip was still yet to Juneau.

The ship arrived in Juneau in the early afternoon, and we were eager to disembark and enjoy as much of the sights as possible.  We, as a group, had decided prior to arriving in Juneau that while seeing the city would be enjoyable, our first priority was to make it to Mendenhall Glacier, which was a 15-minute ride by bus (with a TERRIFYING driver) from the port.

Although the glacier itself upon first seeing it wasn't as amazing as Tracy Arm, the addition of an amazing and massive waterfall next to the glacier, as well as warmer temperatures made it an appealing way to spend the afternoon.  Our original plan included seeing the glacier, taking pictures, and then heading back to Juneau, but once we arrived and saw the option of taking a 45 minute hike to get as close as possible to the glacier and waterfall and I couldn't pass it up. 

Those of you who know me well know that I am not an avid hiker, but this experience may have changed me.  Connor was snuggled tightly in the Beco (This was the first time I'd used it for such an extended period of time..and it didn't let me down.  His weight was distributed well, I didn't get too tired or heavy, and he was comfy.  At his age, of course, he still wanted "down" but he was content for most of the trek.), and so we began.  The weather was perfect for hiking.  The sun was shining, glistening off the ice floating in the water as we walked.  I gained a much greater appreciation for the outdoors while enjoying the glorious day, the beauty of God's creation, the fresh air, and my family all at once.

The best part of all, though, was arriving at the waterfall (Note the picture above.  I took it before our little hike.  At the end of the hike we were those tiny people in front of the waterfall.).  Hearing the rushing of the water, feeling the spray on my face, was delightful and refreshing.  There is simply nothing I have seen before that I can compare it to.  Sure, I have seen waterfalls, but nothing this gigantic, beautiful, or sitting next to a mammoth glacier, green-covered mountains, and water filled with chunks of ice.  It was such a vast array to behold that it was almost overwhelming and nearly impossible to capture in a photo all at once.  I, however, tried plenty of times.  We took lots of pictures before reluctantly heading back the way we came, to the bus and back to Juneau.

As we left Juneau to reboard the boat for our last Alaskan stop ( upcoming post on this charming town) I knew that this day, an ordinary Wednesday, had changed me, especially the way I view nature and how perfectly it reflects the majesty of our creator. Although Connor will likely not remember this trip, seeing his eyes take in the sights and sounds was enough to know that he gained much from this adventure as well. Looking back at this pictures makes me long for days like that again...and I miss Alaska.

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