Tail Heavy Getting to Glacier Bay National Park is an adventure all by itself. Two legs of commercial flights gets us to Juneau where we catch a puddle-jumper to Gustavus -- a village of 600 people -- followed by a bus ride to the lodge. Whew! All works out, though the pilot has to move us around the plane since Dan makes it "tail heavy!"
A New Low Never did we fathom Xanterra NOT being the worst National Park concessionaire... but here we are: let us introduce you to Aramark, where a bunch of inexperienced foreign and domestic interns run the place without adult supervision. The mediocre food and drinks is not a surprise to us -- we are used to Xanterra -- but the lack of organization blows us away! Bottled water? Not until 9:00am. Ride to town? No idea when. Room housekeeping? Perhaps today... perhaps not.
Glacial Meringue The only on-time and organized aspect is the boat ride into the park: they depart and arrive right on the dot. Impressive.
Assana visited Glacier Bay in 1999. And she remembers a lot more ice and glaciers than we see. But we still do manage to float by a large and calving glacier. We don't see much in terms of wild life except for hundreds of adorable sea otters just floating around and judging us, a bunch of puffins, cormorants, a couple of bears, a few mountain goat and one whale spout from way afar.
Moss Roots Rocks Hiking in the park, which is really in Tongass National Forest, is beautiful. The forest is dense and everything is covered in fluffy moss. But the two trails are oh so different! The Forest Trail is mostly on a beautifully raised platform with little look-out spots, and where it is not raised, it is on fluffy smooth forest floor. The Lake Trail is covered -- every inch -- with roots and rocks. It is exhausting to traverse. They really shot their load on the former!
Free Advice Back in Juneau, we catch the Goldbelt Tram to top of Mount Roberts and hike the 4 mile back to town. Worst. Trail. Ever! We would not even call this path a "trail": 100% of the walk is on top of massive roots and rocks, again! We'd say even worst than the Lake Trail since this one, in addition to all the roots and rocks, is quite steep.
Dear Alaska: you really need to work on your hiking trails... or at least warn the visitors of the miserable state they are in. Especially if you charge $50 per person.
Alaska? Done! Glacier Bay NP wraps up our Alaska national parks. We have a couple more westerns parks to visit, and then we will have to venture east!