Alaska is more a humbling experience than anything else. There’s something beautiful in every direction you look. My dad knew this when he planned our day in Juneau.
My dad loves surprising us (or keeping secrets— I’m not really sure). Juneau was the second stop of our Alaskan cruise and he had secretly planned out every minute of the shore excursion. A shuttle picked us up and dropped us at the Mendenhall glacier, which we could see right from the parking lot. We took the 15-minute hike along the trail to Nugget Falls and stayed for a while, watching the water flow over the rocks and drawing in the sand with our toes. My dad played it off as if we were only going here for the day, but he had something even better in store.
Another shuttle came to pick us up with ‘Coastal Helicopters’ printed on the side. By this time my sister and I knew exactly what we were doing. After we reached the helicopter base, watched the safety video, put on some boots that would give us better traction, and met our pilot, Aaron, we were off.
The view was indescribable. Every house and building looked smaller than building blocks. I contemplated the fact that that there are so many lives going on at the same time as mine in all those houses. Everyone is doing or thinking something completely different from everyone else. We flew over mountains topped with snowcaps and covered in green. Aaron turned in the direction of the Mendenhall glacier and Nugget Falls, which we had visited earlier in the day. He then steered towards the Herbert glacier, which we were going to land on. On the way there, Aaron told us that the part of the glacier we saw below us was miles bigger than our minds told us it was. The world is so much bigger than our minds tell us it is, I thought. We waited until the blades completely stopped turning before stepping out onto the Herbert glacier. It was scary at first because I was literally standing on a massive block of ice, complete with large crevices and bright blue water. It was easier to climb up the icy hills than walking down. My sister and I tried to get to the highest point we could (safely) to capture the best picture. The blue crevices were pretty, but took effort to avoid on the way back down.
There were lush mountains surrounding us on all sides, near and far. I thought about how big the world is and the magnitude of people living on it. I looked down at the glacier I was standing on, and up at the mountains surrounding me and I felt small. But I think it’s good to feel small once in a while.
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