Photo Friday: Mendenhall Glacier (Alaska)


Mendenhall Glacier is about 12 miles (19 km) long located in Mendenhall Valley, about 12 miles from downtown Juneau in the southeast region of Alaska. Originally known as Sitaantaagu (“the Glacier Behind the Town”) or Aak’wtaaksit (“the Glacier Behind the Little Lake”), the glacier was named Auke (Auk) Glacier by naturalist John Muir for the Tlingit Auk Kwaan (or Aak’w Kwaan) band in 1888. In 1891 it was renamed in honor of Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, a US physicist and meteorologist. It extends from the Juneau Icefield, its source, to Mendenhall Lake and ultimately the Mendenhall River.

Photos taken July 2008.

Alaska Haiku

International Travel, Poetry

My father was not a traveler. For one, he feared flying, meaning that the few vacations we took in my youth were long crawls across many states in whatever second-hand car he owned at the time.  We’d stay in whatever motel was cheapest and pack in as many miles as possible the next day. He didn’t have a passport until my mom persuaded him to take an Alaskan cruise when they were both in their fifties.

My mother was an avid traveler. Her travels included the UK, Mexico, Canada, and sailing on the RMS Queen Mary in her youth. She often traveler with my grandmother, her mother, but after her unexpected passing, was left to either stay at home or talk my father into travel. She thought she could do it with an Alaskan cruise, and thought it would be easier if I came along.

I’d never been on a cruise before and it wasn’t high on my list, but I hoped it might spark something long absent in my father and that they would begin to travel together afterward. So I tagged along, heading off on my own excursions that included rappelling down a glacier, driving a 4×4 in the Yukon territory, and feeding salmon to soaring eagles on an abandoned island (my parents were content taking city tours or walking around the port town). I’d recently returned from a trip to China where I’d written a haiku every day and decided to keep up the tradition during this trip. Below are five from this time:


No day no night just
Hours passing through hours
Days turning to years

Into mist and haze
Snow clinging to ancient rock
Trees toppling over

Ice and rain and snow
Form the heartbeat of nature
Too much to absorb

North territory
Filled with dead horses and gold
Miles still to go

Ground soft beneath me
Jagged shore less pliable
Eagles soar with food


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