One sunny Saturday this past September, my friend, Lindsey Aspelund, and I decided to do what many had encouraged us to do all summer: hike the long and treacherous way to the Mendenhall Glacier ice caves. We didn’t know it at the time, but BuzzFeed.com would later rank the ice caves as one of 27 Surreal Places to Visit Before You Die.
Lindsey is the quintessential Alaskan woman – gutsy, level-headed, determined, and brilliant – so I knew she’d be a terrific hiking partner. Plus, she’s one heckuva photographer. You’ll see many of her breathtaking images from our trip later in this blog, and I encourage you to check out her website for more eye candy: http://www.lindseyaspelundphotography.com.
Below is a smörgåsbord of photos from our eight hour round trip adventure which began unassumingly enough with a leisurely hike on the well-maintained West Glacier Trail. The area was teeming with mushrooms and puddles - a nice appetizer to what lie ahead.
Then came the climb. I had no idea I could be a rock climber until that day. What an ego-boost!
At the top of our first climb, a rocky heart greeted me and Lindsey. I'm not sure who put that lovely surprise together, but thank you!
After scaling the highs and lows of the rock peninsula, we saw expansive views of the mighty Mendenhall Glacier, Mendenhall Lake, and Nugget Falls.
Once the glacier was close in sight, we realized we weren't really all that close to the glacier caves. In fact, it was another 30 minute trek across the ice from the viewpoint pictured below.
And then we arrived.
It was one of those “I don’t know if I can do this” moments. You know, where your pulse pounds and your mind spins, when you think you can’t continue, but you just do. The excitement and sheer terror compelled my curiosity and pushed me forward. The pep talk from Lindsey helped, too. I just had to see the inside, the blue expanse of the caves of Mendenhall Glacier.
As we approached the ice caves, I found myself holding my breath. The video and images below will show you why.