Our recent escorted RC TravelClub cruise to Alaska gave me a chance to tick off TWO of my Bucket List items: take a helicopter ride and walk on a glacier. I signed up for Holland America’s Helicopter and Glacier Walk About in Juneau and it was worth every penny.
We had a sweet local lady, Janet, transfer our small group of nine to the airport for our helicopter ride to Mendenhall Glacier. She told us that usually her husband would be our driver, but he was home trying to fix the broken water heater. When we arrived they suited us up in long, thick pants and waterproof jackets to keep the cold out, and nice thick boots to keep our feet dry. After a brief safety conversation we were assigned to our helicopter pilot and off we went!
The ride itself was worth the whole cost of the excursion! We were able to see just how large the glacier was, stretching further than my eye could see. We saw a few mountain goats and eagles but the waterfalls were the most breathtaking. I was not prepared for the sharp up and downs the helicopters are able to make. A scenic, gentle roller coaster ride is what it felt like!
Once we landed the helicopter about a mile up the glacier, we were equipped with crampons for our boots and a walking stick to use to test the strength of the ice in front of us. The crampons have sharp spikes and help prevent sliding around on the wet ice. We had two wonderful guides, both from California! We walked all over that glacier!
We saw streams where some of us filled our water bottles full of glacier melt. I saved my water to take home, turn back into ice and use in fancy cocktails. We saw deep crevasses, that absorbed more of the sun's light and heat than the ice around it. The contrast of blues, whites and browns was like nothing I have ever seen.
After about an hour and a half of exploring, we were loaded back into helicopters which were flying over our heads the whole time with the folks who opted for the helicopter sightseeing without the glacier walk.
Janet’s husband picked us up and we were able to ask about the water heater. If the local Walmart did not have one, they would have to wait for the barge to come with one in a couple of weeks! We kept our fingers crossed that Walmart had one for them! We were dropped off at the Red Dog Saloon where we met some of our RC TravelClubers for a Duck Fart and live music.