Aki and I passed just one cruise ship on our way to the glacier. It was just tying up at the old steamship dock. In a few hours five more of the floating hotels will be docked and disgorging over 20,000 passengers onto Juneau’s downtown streets. Many of those visitors will take buses out to the Mendenhall Glacier. Some will clog the trail to Nugget Falls. We should be early enough to have the trail to ourselves this morning.
Two ravens scrabbling over a discarded sandwich roll take little notice of Aki and I as we leave the visitor center area for the falls. After one of grouchy birds chases off his competitor we stop to watch the winner tear into the roll. It gives me the stink eye, encouraging us to move on.
Glacial runoff has swollen the lake. It covers low-lying parts of the trail and encroaches on the nesting grounds of arctic terns. Some of the fork-tailed little birds hover like helicopters over the lake. A raven invades the nesting area of spotted sandpipers looking for an easy meal. The peeping birds are too quick to be caught.
An iceberg recently calved by the glacier has grounded out a few meters off shore of the nesting grounds. Two kittiwakes, taking a break from their paternal duties at the rookery, sulk like bored teenagers on the little berg.