Where the world is young: Nugget Falls, Alaska
John is a senior in high school now, but he and James will never forget our visit to this spot -- one of the most magical places in the world.
In the background is Mendenhall Glacier. Like most of the two dozen or so glaciers that pour down from the Juneau Ice Cap (the main exception has been Taku Glacier), Mendenhall has been retreating for a long time. When I was a boy, living a mile and a half to the west, the glacier partly obscured the waterfall. You can still see signs posted every couple hundred yards, warning visitors to get no closer. When we lived in Juneau, a woman was, in fact, crushed to death by falling ice, but that was in winter, I think, when Mendenhall Lake freezes over a couple feet. You can't easily get that close in the summer.
John has been here twice. The first time, he stood by the lake across from the big glacier and asked, "Is this the North Pole?"
The cliffs over which the water falls, are in places streaked with quartz. Look closer at the rocks that the glacier has left in its retreat, and you can still find garnets in the scheist, and other beautiful stones.
Follow the East Glacier Trail around the falls into a valley towards the backside of Thunder Mountain. I never made it as far as I wanted -- some day I'll return.
Go into the visitor's center, point the scope onto Boulder Mountain behind Nugget Creek, and sometimes you can find mountain goats, little white specks thousands of feet above.
A magnificent stuffed timber wolf now also stands in the center -- hit by a car, they told me.