After arriving in Juneau around midnight we didn't want to miss any time exploring. First thing in the morning we headed for the Mendenhall Glacier. I found it pretty surprising that it was just a few minutes out of town. All of the towns that we've been stopping at recently have been in the valleys surrounded by beautiful mountains. I can see why people start taking the view for granted....you see them everyday. But beautiful they are.
Once at the glacier visitor center we sat through an eleven minute video explaining the formation of glaciers and how quickly they are receding. We then set out on a hike through the forests behind the visitor center. We hiked pretty much uphill using switchbacks for close to an hour. There were several spots where you could stop and take photo ops or just look at all the splendor. Something I hadn't seen before (or at least not noticed) was the moss growing on everything! The whole forest ground was covered with it. If there was a fallen tree or a rock on the ground it was covered with moss. Really quite pretty and soft looking. The other thing we found a lot of was falls. Being in the mountains with snow up there, it is melting continuously. I'm a sucker for falls, both the sights and sounds.
Just as we were about an hour and a half into the hike I kept hearing a whistle blowing. To me that meant there were bear up here. I got a little uneasy feeling because being as prepared as we always are we had nothing with us. Our quick packing job for the ferry left a lot to be desired. We didn't bring the bug spray, the bear repel, not even water. The thing I was glad we didn't forget was the hiking boots. Don't think I could have done it without them. Anyway, long story short we hiked for about three hours.
When we returned to the visitor center we looked out at the glacier and the waterfalls from the viewing spot and decided that we too should be one of those people that hiked out there to stand at the foot of it all. Off we went. When we were almost there it became evident that we had to do some rock climbing to get there. This is no problem for MM, but I have just about no balance. But since rock climbing in on my "bucket list" I thought this was the perfect opportunity to check that off. It was not rock climbing in the sense of going straight up, but a huge pile of rocks that you had to climb over. MM just walked over - me - pretty much hands and knees all the way. So he might have walked over them, but I climbed hehe. We made it and are glad that we did. We got back to the visitor center with just enough time to make it back to the ferry for Skagway.
The ferry leaves Juneau at 4:30, stops at Haines for 2 hours then on to Skagway arriving at 11:30. It was a nice cruise. Retrieved our car and headed back to Carcross where the coach has been left. We had heard that customs isn't always open 24 hours, but for the summer it is. Made it back through there without any problems and then the hour drive back. There is a lot of wildlife at night. We saw about 3 porcupine, a possum, a sheep and a moose. Good thing it's not really dark here at night. We were exhausted when we finally fell into bed at 2 a.m. (there was another time change when we crossed over into the Yukon).