Tag Archives: Juneau

A trip to the Last Frontier

Alaska has many pleasant surprises in store, says avid globetrotter and travel writer Upasna Prasad. 

My family was holidaying in Vancouver, Canada, in June 2015, from where we decided to go on a week-long Celebrity Cruise trip across Alaska. Our first halt was Icy Strait Point, then Juneau and finally Ketchikan before retreating to Vancouver.

Icy Strait Point.

Icy Strait Point: After being on the sea for a full two days with no land in sight across the North Pacific Ocean, we reached Hoonah village, Alaska’s largest Native Tlingit village, on the third day. Icy Strait Point was the name of the port where our ship disembarked. We took the exciting Humpback Whale watching boat trip in the Pacific’s nutrient-rich, bountiful, icy cold waters. The whales are plentiful here, so we did spot a few.

Our Humpback Whale watching boat trip.

Next, we headed to Tongass National Park on a local bus for coastal brown bear sightings. Alas, we did not have a glimpse of the bear! We wore warm-layered clothing and a waterproof jacket with comfortable shoes to enjoy the open-air adventure. Remember, when in Alaska, do not forget your cameras and binoculars!

The Gray Line of Alaska.

Juneau: In Alaska, there are many spectacular glaciers and mountains to view. So, upon reaching Juneau, the capital city of Alaska and an important hub for gold diggers; we did not waste time. After finishing our scrumptious lunch of delectable Dungeness crabs, grilled corn and salmon, we headed to view the spectacular Mendenhall Glacier. The glacier has retreated a mile every year since 1930. We also visited a visitor centre nearby with a wealth of information on plants, animals and geology.

Mendenhall Glacier.

Since it was a day stopover, we had to make the most of it. We hired a Ranger who showed us old gold mines in the mountains. We continued with our adventure with a helicopter sightseeing at Douglas Island. It was a phenomenal experience over the Juneau ice fields in the picturesque Norris Glacier. The pilot was well informed too! The helicopter halted at Norris Glacier for a mushing time, Dog Sledding!

A helicopter sightseeing at Douglas Island.

The dog teams welcomed us and took us on a thrilling trip on wheeled sleds. Alaskan huskies pulled us across fields blanketed by snow and surrounded by snow-capped mountains. We were given snow boots to wear over our shoes to walk comfortably.

The dog sled tour.

It was a fabulous experience. The dog sled tour is long over, but the memories will remain with us forever.

Ketchikan: Rains welcomed us in Ketchikan, a colourful city of timber, totem poles and salmon. Totem poles are beautifully carved, painted logs of wood, vertically mounted and constructed by the North American Tlingit clan. In fact, colourful Totem poles adorn the whole city. Each animal or spirit carved on the pole has a meaning and is part of an important story or myth.

The totem pole in Ketchikan.

The Alaskan salmon have interesting lives as before they die, they return to their birth stream or river after spending several years in the Pacific. Our Ranger told us that brown bears come down from the mountains towards the rivers or streams searching for salmon. 

Cruising along.

By evening, we bid adieu to this colourful historic city of Ketchikan and embarked on our cruise for our last lap of the journey back to Vancouver.