We were disappointed to wake up to a rainy and overcast day on the morning we were supposed to hike in Tongass National Forest to see Mendenhall Glacier. It wasn’t long before we learned that it’s almost always raining in Juneau, Alaska because it’s located in a temperate rain forest – the largest in the northern hemisphere. Thanks to Teddy Roosevelt, over 17 million acres in the area (almost the entire Alaska Panhandle) has been set aside as the nation’s largest national forest. Walking through Tongass is like visiting another world.
Mendenhall Glacier has been retreating at a rapid pace. For nearly twenty years, its average loss was 90 feet per year. In 2000, that number jumped to 300 feet and in 2004, it was 600 feet. Now people recommend seeing Alaska’s most accessible glacier before it’s gone.