A Frozen Morning

It’s not very often that Juneau actually gets a sudden bout freezing rain. Typically it is the slow accumulation of snow being driven over that transitions into compressed tire tracks, then with our temperatures typically flirting with 32, we experience rain on top of our ice and after a day or two our roads are temperate glaciers. But something unusual happened Saturday morning, and we awoke to our streets being covered in a sheet of ice.

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Not having studs on my Subaru, I lounged around the house until my driveway looked more liquid than solid, and loaded Barksalot up in the car for our daily adventure. I decided to head out towards the glacier, as it is a shorter drive and the Mendenhall always provides a beautiful backdrop even on cloudy days. There was some gentle misty rain, but not enough to warrant a hood. Kiska and I meandered around the lake, and after seeing some brave souls head out we skirted the shoreline and headed towards a big berg poking out of the ice.

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PLEASE BE AWARE: ICE BERGS WILL STILL ROLL IN FROZEN ICE, AND THEY ARE NEVER TRULY SAFE TO BE AROUND OR ON. ALSO, LAKE ICE IS ALWAYS UNSTABLE AND ANY TRAVEL ON LAKE ICE CARRIES AN AMOUNT OF RISK. GLACIER FACES ARE ALWAYS ACTIVE, AND THEY CAN STILL CALVE AND BREAK THE ICE AT THE FACE.

Having lived in Juneau my whole life, I am very aware of the safety of the lake ice. Heading out after days of below freezing after Juneau Nordic Ski Club gives the ice depth report is a super common occurrence in Juneau. But considering that Saturday was the first day above 32, and with standing water on top of the ice Kiska and I didn’t hang out for long. Looking at the JNSC report today, the ice is 8″ everywhere, so it is still very safe to be out on. But having not looked at the report before heading out, I didn’t want to be ‘that woman’ that fell through.

Safe Ice Thickness chart

After a quick few photos, we headed back into the woods to wander the trial. There were very few people out at the glacier – probably because of the condition of the roads. Lucky for us, that meant very few people to interrupt my silent stroll.

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But too bad for everyone, because they missed a very interesting day at the glacier. The trees were covered in a combination of freezing rain and rime frost. When Ms Bumbles sees mommy looking at something, she assumes it must be extremely fascinating and must be personally inspected by herself. So, most of my pictures at ground level are quick pics before Kiska sticks her face to smell whatever I’m looking at. At least I have learned to visualize my picture and find the right angel quickly! It helps my animal photography a lot actually. 🙂

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Well, at least she is interested in my life, right?

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About Courtney

Juneau, Alaska local.
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