Taku Glacier Feast and 5 Glacier Discovery…

Taku Lodge Feast and 5 Glacier Discovery

I have heard about this shore excursion for some time but had never decided to see it for myself until now. My grandson Basil Pannell was joining me on my ship to cruise Alaska and the Inside Passage for two weeks and I wanted him to have a very unique vacation.

I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to see something new and to give Basil a chance to experience flying in a seaplane. And not only fly in a seaplane but to fly over a number of glaciers and land at a remote lodge.

Being in Juneau on my ship, the Coral Princess, affords me the opportunity to stop at the office of Wings Airway on the dock downtown Juneau. The staff was very friendly and helpful and there were a couple of different options. Between the 5 Glacier Seaplane Exploration and the Taku Lodge Feast and 5 Glacier Discovery I chose the later.

The tour totaled 3 hours of which you flew over 5 glaciers you also enjoyed 2 hours at the Taku Glacier Lodge located in the backcountry at the foot of the Taku Glacier.

Basil and I arrived at the Wings Airway office joining others taking the tour for a short safety talk before boarding the seaplane. The DeHavilland Otter is known as an Alaskan workhorse and a very reliable aircraft.

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My grandson Basil waiting to board the DeHavilland Otter seaplane

 

Once onboard the pilot turns the plane, pushes the throttle forward increasing speed as we race down the Gastineau Channel with Douglas Island on one side and the town of Juneau on the other lined with a number of cruise ships visiting for the day. Gently the seaplane lifts free of the water and you are airborne.

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Gastineau Channel and Douglas Island near Juneau, Alaska

The flight itself was nothing short of spectacular.  Every seat is afforded a large window as you climb high above the mountains and the channel below. After a couple minutes the pilot banks the plane and we are flying up the Taku Inlet. The Throughfare Mountains in the near distance and directly below are the Annez Lakes that are nestled within the valleys and snow covered peaks.

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Annez Lakes

Then before you know it the North Branch of the Norris Glacier appears cutting its way through the mountains, a frozen river ice on its way to the sea. You feel as if you can reach out and touch the glaciers as they pass underneath the plane they are so close.

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North Branch of the Norris Glacier

The glaciers twist and turn carrying dirt, rubble and boulders as they travel. This leaves the glacier streaked with shades of white to gray to black resembling racing stripes mixed with the various shades of blue ice that we have come to expect.

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Crags of a glacial ice field

The different variations of blue are due to thousand of years of compression and how the ice crystals themselves bend the light. There are areas of light blue to very deep blue and every shade in between.

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Blue field of glacial ice

Flying over the glacier you see this color variation as you look into the crags in the crust of the glacier itself. It is also apparent at the edge of the glacier where it has calved exposing the ice within.

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Claving at one of the many glaciers on our trip

As you around yet another mountain at the edge of a glacial river across from the Taku Glacier sits the Taku Glacier Lodge where you will spend the next 2 hours. Here you can explore the surrounding woods on a number of hiking trails, visit the gift shop or just sit and relax on a porch swing as the cook prepares you meal of fresh salmon being cooked on an outdoor grill.

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Taku Glacier Lodge

Basil and I decided to hike through the dense forest along one of the trails only to be recalled by the sound of the clang of a iron triangle best known in western movies and on ranches.

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Basil enjoying a hike near the Taku Glacier

The lunch consisted of fresh Alaskan salmon, fresh coleslaw, baked beans, sourdough bread matched with fruit compote, herb biscuits and ginger cookies for desert.

After lunch Basil and I once again decided to take a hike down another trail this time in the opposite direction. It is so peaceful in the backcountry with the sounds of the various birds calling to one another or the wind rustling through the trees.

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Along one of the trails showing the dense forest surrounding the Taku Glacier Lodge

After about 30 minutes we returned to the grounds at the lodge and settled in on one of the comfortable chairs to enjoy a view of the Taku Glacier just across the river.

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Basil relaxing and enjoying the view of the Taku Glaicer

We were then surprised by one of the many black bears that a frequent the lodge and its ground. The bear know as Lucy appeared from the woods and made a beeline behind the buildings headed for what she knew was to be something special.

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Lunch and the Taku Glacier Lodge…everyone is invited

You see it too heard the sound of the iron triangle and also with a keen sense of smell knew that fresh salmon was on the menu. As soon as it reached the large stone and iron grill it climbed on top and began to lick the remains of any salmon left behind. Once she had her fill and everything was licked clean she climbed down and once again headed back into the woods no doubt to take a long nap after her lunch.

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Lunch is over… time for a nap

Our time at the lodge had expired and we once again boarded the seaplane. Along the way we continued to fly over mountains and glaciers with our eyes fixed out the windows. We had excellent views of the Taku Glacier, Hole-On-The-Wall Glacier, West Twin Glacier and the East Twin Glacier as we made our way back to Juneau.

 

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DeHavilland Otter leaving the lodge with the Taku Glacier in the background
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Look close near the middle of the glacier and you will see one of the seaplanes giving you perspective of the size of the Taku glacier

Upon reaching Juneau our pilot set the plane down gently on the waterway and taxied to the pier where we had began our journey.

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Back to the docks at Wing Airways in Juneau, Alaska

I cannot express what a wonderful shore excursion this is and I will impress on you when In Juneau you should seriously considered taking a flight over the glaciers and to the Taku Glacier Lodge on the 5 Glacier Seaplane Exploration tour from Wings Airway.

For more information visit the website wingsairway.com and contact Wings Airway by calling 907-586-6275 or email info@wingsairwayscom

 

Author: larry pannell

I started my career in photography as a professional photojournalist in 1978 at the time working with several newspapers and magazines in Southern California. What I loved most about photojournalism was its diversity and over my career I covered professional sports, concerts and travel. As life would have it mine took yet another turn and in 1988 I developed an interest in holistic medicine. I became a professional massage therapist specializing in sports medicine. In 1991 I decided to go to medical school and obtained a medical degree in Traditional Oriental Medicine and stared my career as a licensed acupuncture physician. After medical school I moved my practice to northern Idaho for a year before settling in the resort area of Sun Valley, Idaho. I’ve always been an outdoor person and hiking and backpacking the Rockies and fishing the pristine river waters and high altitude lakes offered me a wonderful photographic opportunity. In 2010 I left Sun Valley and I once again found myself on a cruise ship, this time working as an “Acupuncturist at Sea”. For the past seven years I have traveled to over 75 countries, which has allowed me to photograph much of the world.

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