Monday, 18 July 2016

Golden Circle: Down the fjord

While Haines is on the Golden Circle route, Juneau isn't.  Taking the fast ferry to Juneau was a side trip recommended as a quick way to see Juneau, a key cruise ship stop famous for its Mendenhall Glacier and at the same time, a spectacular trip down the Lynn Canal, North America's deepest fjord at 2,000 feet and one of the deepest and longest in the world.  The packaged day trip on the fast ferry takes 40 passengers collected from Skagway and Haines down the inside passage to Juneau and back in 11 hours, including a bus trip to the glacier.

The catamaran ride turned out to be the most interesting part of the trip as the mountains on both sides of the fjord provided a continuous splendorous backdrop along the route, coupled with sightings of wildlife and the perpetual hope of seeing a whale.  We did see a few, at least one breach, but I was not close enough (or fast enough!) for pictures.  Then of course there was a permanent colony of sea lions that would assure at least a few decent closeups of a very photogenic species.

Juneau the town was anti-climactic, in spite of the fact that it is the Alaska state capital - the same cruise port shops and pubs greeted us.  It was too hot to trudge into the town centre to see the government buildings.  The highlight of the Juneau visit was the lunch of Alaskan King Crab - fresh, sweet and delicious!  And then of course there is the Mendenhall Glacier, an impressive tongue of ice which still sadly reminded us of climate change with its retreat. It was a pleasant return to peaceful Haines harbour at the end of the day.

Spectacular scenery all along the Lynn Canal

Colony of sea lions along the way

Family harmony?

Eagle Glacier along the Lynn Canal

Whale spouting

Fresh, delicious Alaskan king crab lunch was the highlight of the Juneau visit


Mendenhall Glacier

Nugget Falls, before the retreat of the Mendenhall glacier, used to fall directly onto the glacier.  Now it falls into Mendenhall Lake at the foot of the glacier.

The historic Eldred Rock Lighthouse, the last of the ten lighthouses built in Alaska between 1902 and 1906

Haines Harbour at dusk (yes, it was still bright at dusk as it was four days before the summer solstice, the longest day of the year)

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