Maybe because winter has been fairly fleeting here snow wise, I decided to take a nostalgic stroll through some photos of a trip to Alaska’s Inside Passage.
If you’ve never experienced a visit to this scenic destination, you’ve missed out on an amazing adventure. Incredible vistas, unique Native cultures and remarkable wildlife, Alaska has it all. While I would have loved to have spent some time at Glacier National Park, my visit was limited but still provided some incredible glimpses of this unforgettable state. So grab your beverage of choice and let’s see a few of the more notable scenes, shall we?
Departing from the port of Seattle with its infamous Space Needle on the horizon, the cruise ship headed northward toward Juneau. Named after the gold prospector Joe Juneau, the city became the state capitol in 1906. Due to its rugged terrain, Juneau is unique among state capitols insomuch as there are no roads connecting the city with the rest of the state although there is ferry service available for autos. It’s basically an island city…on land. You either have to fly or boat into the city. With around 31,000 full-time residents, the populations swells from May through September when cruise ships visit, by about 6,000 people per day.
Located approximately 12 miles from downtown Juneau is the famous Mendenhall Glacier and surrounding landscape which is protected as part of the 5,815 acres Mendenhall Glacier Recreation Area, a federally designated portion of the Tongass National Forest. Despite the ongoing glacial ebb, this spectacular site will nevertheless take your breath away with its sheer size and presence. Given that temperatures continue to rise throughout Alaska and fact that the end of the glacier has a negative mass balance, it will continue to retreat.
I was mesmerized by the floating pieces of the glacier in Mendenhall Lake and with the ice color which appears blue due to the absorption of all colors of the visible light spectrum except for blue, which it transmits. Named after noted scientist, Thomas C. Mendenhall who served as Superintendent of the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey from 1889 to 1894, he also served on the Alaska Boundary Commission and was responsible for surveying the international boundary between Canada and Alaska. In 1892, this glacier was renamed to honor Mendenhall. The naturalist, John Muir, had first named the glacier “Auke Glacier” in 1879 after the Aak’w Kwaan of the Tlingit Indians. Bear sightings are not unusual in the area and one must be vigilant when hiking.
Tracy Arm Fjord, south of Juneau is a deep and narrow fjord with considerable floating ice ranging from hand-sized to pieces as large as a three-story building.
No trip to the Inner Passage is complete without a stop in Skagway. Noted for being the setting in Jack London’s “Call of the Wild,” Will Hobbs’s book Jason’s Gold, and for Joe Haldeman’s novel Guardian, as well as John Wayne’s film “North to Alaska” filmed nearby. Skagway became populated after thousands of miners hoped to strike it rich in the region during the Klondike Gold Rush.
The prospectors’ journey began for most as soon as they climbed over the White Pass above Skagway. In 1898 the White Pass Yukon Route began laying narrow gauge railroad tracks along the route as a result of the gold rush. One notable hooligan interred in Skagway’s Boot Hill is Jefferson Randolph “Soapy” Smith, one of the most unscrupulous con men of the time.
Alaska’s native people (Eskimos) have had a significant impact on the state’s culture and the many museums along the way should not be missed.
After taking in some incredible handcrafted items, it’s always good to experience the bounty of the sea. Crab anyone?
Many other stops along the way provided equally stunning scenery. I could go on and on about beautiful and fascinating Alaska with its wide and breathtaking vistas. It’s not uncommon to see a spouting blow-hole from a whale along the way but you need to be quicker than I was at trying to photograph it. Though failing at any photographic remembrance, that image will remain forever burnished in my memory. And so will the sunsets.
You simply can’t go wrong taking a trip to the
50th 49th (with thanks to Evil Squirrel) state for seeing beautiful locations and learning about the Old West Frontier. Have you ever been there? What was your favorite part?
Live, love, bark❣