Thursday, June 01, 2017

Alaskan Cruise: Day 7--Juneau

During the night we sailed back south to the current capitol of Alaska, Juneau. All five of us went to view the Mendenhall Glacier and then take a tour of the Macauly Salmon Hatchery. 

Juneau's gold rush predates that of the find in the Yukon by about 20 years. Nuggets were found in 1880's in a couple of the streams and traced to some hard rock veins both on the mainland and across the way on Douglas Island. This led to some hard rock mining (think shafts and tunnels) that eventually petered out in the 1940s and came to an end with the flooding of the last remaining mine.

While on the mainland and not strictly speaking an island, the ice fields in the mountains make it impossible to put in roads or rail so the only access to Juneau is via boat or plane. (Okay, birth canal works too.) The two photos below show the rough mountains that pin the city to the coast.

Juneau became Alaska's capitol in 1906 while they were still a territory. Today half of Juneau's working age population works for the government in one capacity or another.

View from the pier.
Another view from the pier.
The bus was a bit late picking us up at the pier and then we had some traffic getting out of town but even the ride was impressive as there were many dozen Bald Eagles in the flats just north of the fish hatchery waiting for the tide to bring them an easy meal. The salmon weren’t running quite yet and the herring run had just ended so they were merely hanging around. Every stump, telephone pole and even stop light seemed to have an eagle perched on it.

The glacier has retreated some since we were there in 2010 and the park service went out of their way to blame global warming. (Something that was never even mentioned when we were later at the Hubbard Glacier—which is advancing—later on our cruise. Odd how that works.) The waterfall was gushing what with the warm temperatures (it was nearly 70 degrees in Juneau that afternoon) and the heavy rains of the last few days.  

Mendenhall Glacier and waterfall.

Mendenhall Glacier

Waterfall It's one mile from the visitors' center. Look carefully, there are people standing out there.

Terry touches the water in the glacial lake. Says it's "Chilly."

Some kayakers got up close to the face of the glacier.

The hatchery is a nonprofit venture dedicated to protecting the health and vitality of the Alaskan fishery. They raise and release millions of salmon into the ocean each year after getting them acclimated to the waters in which they were spawned—with a little help from man. They have a fish ladder that the returning salmon use to swim to their deaths. Their eggs are collected, fertilized and cared for to be released the next year. The carcasses are canned for food. This facility does four of the five types of salmon (chum, king, silver and pink) while a separate hatchery is used for sockeye. The sockeye carry a disease that, while it doesn’t affect their use as a food resource, can infect the other four species so they are kept apart. (Sorry. Since the salmon hadn't returned, the fish ladder was empty and I failed to take any pictures.)

Lunch was king crab legs at Tracy’s Crab Shack (“I got crabs at Tracy’s” t-shirts for sale) on the dock. Then we strolled around town in the warm sunshine. Up to 70 degrees!(Again with the no pictures! My bad!)
Mural downtown tha purports to tell the story of how man arrived in this world. Through a clam and released by Raven.

The only good bird pics I got was of these Harlequin Ducks swimming off the pier.

Harlequin Duck

Brian, Vicky and George made their way back to the ship while Terry and I got on a bus to go to a salmon bake! (Sorry no pictures were taken.) It was a buffet with all you can eat grilled salmon. There was live entertainment, too. Terry and I each had a couple of helpings and then made our way back to the ship for a night cap and some well earned rest.

During night we set sail for Icy Strait Point.

No comments: