A brief overview of the place
Juneau is the capital city of Alaska and sits on one of the largest wilderness areas in the USA. This place has so much to offer from flying, to fishing and hiking, to history. There really is something for everyone.
What I did in Juneau
Alaska is known for the brown bears that live within the trees, then bald eagles that look down on us from the sky, and the Huskies that run on top of the glaciers. The nature in Alaska is incomparable and will leave you speechless at every turn.
The one thing that was top of my list to do while in Juneau was to see Mendenhall Glacier. I didn’t mind how I experienced it, I just knew I wanted to see it. The opportunity arose to be able to go dog sledging on the glacier, which is something that had been done in Alaska for years.
After doing my research and making sure it wasn’t anything shady, and ensuring the dogs were well cared for, I booked my trip of a lifetime.
The tour costs $500 to do normally, but being a crew member we are entitled to a hefty discount which brought it down to $250, which for the day I had, it was well worth the money.
Julia (my friend and colleague) and I did the tour together so we were picked up at 8 am from the ship.
We arrived at the helicopters about 20 minutes later where we watched a safety video and had a quick safety demonstration. Snow boots, ski gloves and hats were given to anyone who hadn’t brought them.
As we waited for our helicopter, I could feel the excitement building inside me.
We clambered in and put on our ear protectors. The take-off was smooth and exhilarating. We flew over forests, huge lakes, the pretty town of Juneau and then I could see the glacier up ahead. As we flew closer to the glacier, the mist from the clouds became less and less and I became more lost for words at the sheer size of it. To see Mother Nature all its glory like that was remarkable.
It became very foggy all of a sudden and we were unable to see for a while, but as we emerged from the fog and looked down below we could see nothing but a sheet of white untouched snow and in the background the sound of howling and barking.
We soared over the glacier seeing the peaks of ice and melting snow until we finally landed amongst the 200 dogs that were eagerly waiting for us. We jumped down from the helicopter into the fine snow and ran over to a small chalet where we were greeted by a man called Tim, who had a long ginger beard and was wearing a T-shirt.
We first got to walk around and meet the dogs. Each dog had their own little house. Some were very enthusiastic and some were shy and quiet, but they were all very friendly dogs and were happy to be petted.
After meeting the dogs we were then taken to our sledge where a group of dogs were being brought over to pull the sledge. I was worried that I was going to get upset seeing the dogs if they didn’t seem happy, but it was quite the opposite. They were all running towards the sledge eagerly and pulling poor Tim along behind them. As they were having the harness attached they were wagging their tails and barking with excitement.
We hopped in the sledge after Tim had run through a few rules with us, and our tour began. The dogs were running so fast and looked as if they were having so much fun, which just added to the excitement. We were taken around the powdery snow and to different parts of the glacier. We kept stopping so Tim could explain various things about the glacier to us, and so that the dogs could take a breather. We also got to change seats so each of us got a chance to ride up front or stand on the back of the sledge.
As we arrived back at the base camp, Tim struggled to get the dogs to stop. We climbed out of the sledge and helped Tim with the dogs. It was a little intimidating because they were so big and excitable but we were assured that they were harmless.
To end our tour we were introduced to the new members of the family, the little puppy’s that had both mine and Julia’s hearts melting. They were so beautiful.
We enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate and were then escorted to the helicopter that took us back ‘down to earth’, and back to where our day began.
This was the most magical experience and I would love for everyone to experience this wondrous day. The best things in life are free and Mother Nature’s Mendenhall glacier definitely proves that.
Most popular excursions
Juneau’s most popular attraction is the magnificent Mendenhall Glacier which is just 13 miles from the town. Mendenhall Glacier is just one of the many glaciers but is the most popular because of its accessibility.
Mendenhall ice caves
The ice caves sit at the base of the glacier and are well worth a visit. There is one public path to get to the caves and it is about a 1-hour walk each way. The caves are spectacular. They change colours in the light. Be sure to keep quiet as too much noise can cause ice to fall and cause serious injury.
250 miles of hiking trails
Juneau has an unbelievable amount of hiking options, so whether you are a beginner or an expert there will be something for you. As you hike, depending on which trail you choose, you will be able to see nature at its finest, from rare birds to deer.
Explore the town
The town of Juneau is a lovely quaint town that feels very personable. It has a wide range of boutiques, chocolate shops, bars and restaurants. It’s a great place to explore. I spent a lot of time in The Viking bar when I visited Juneau.
Things to know
When you think of Alaska you think ‘cold’. However, if you go to summer (June/July/Aug) and you are staying within the town it isn’t as cold as you might think. A light jumper is normally all you will need.