Mendenhall Glacier, Mendenhall Lake, Nugget Falls, Icebergs – We were told this might not match up in terms of other upcoming glacier viewings – that this glacier is only visible from just across a small lake vs. the views from the deck of the ship in days to come. Way wrong answer!!! Just to give you some idea of the magnitude, when you view the images of Nugget Falls, look closely at the size of the people at the base of the falls – it puts things in perspective, yes?
Mendenhall Glacier is 1 of 37 that flow down from Juneau’s 1500 square-mile ice field which stretches 13.5 miles and flows directly to the valley floor and ends at Mendenhall Lake. It’s been retreating and losing its ice at the lake faster than it is gaining ice at its source – in the ice field.
By the 1990’s, it was retreating at 30 feet per year. In the 2000’s, the rate increased to 200 feet per year. In 2013 alone, it shrank by 540 feet! Park officials have estimated that in 40 years, it will no longer be visible from the visitor’s center.
Across from the lake, as the ice retreats, the land rebounds with green meadows, developing trees, streams, and wildlife.