When Lauren and Andrew Russell traveled to Alaska on their honeymoon, they didn't know what to expect. They dreamed of being able to see the Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau, a 12-mile long sheet of ice that you can walk across. For the even more adventurous, you can hike into an ice cave created by water runoff from the glacier. But there's a catch. There's no guarantee you'll get to see any of this, because getting to the caves can be extremely dangerous depending on the time of year.
Nonetheless, the couple wanted to try their luck. They hired a guide to take them across the glacier, dodging falling rocks and debris and attempting to avoid the occasional massive hole. Actually, these massive holes are known as moulans and they did happen to come across a few. In fact, Andrew climbed down inside one to get some stunning photos.
The risky trek paid off. Lauren and Andrew got to go inside one of the glacial ice caves, a site more stunning than anything they've seen on this earth. They spent half an hour in the cave, staring, photographing, and reflecting. "To get to see those ice caves is something that everyone should get the opportunity to do at some point in their life," Lauren said. The experience left a lasting impression on both of them.
In recent years, these glaciers have been greatly affected by climate change, but ironically it's the rising temperatures that allow the majestic caves to form in the first place. Looking at the photos is bittersweet knowing that such a beautiful thing can come from the harmful effects of global warming. To add insult to injury, the entire cave collapsed this past July. For Lauren and Andrew, the biggest takeaway they got from their cave visit was the lesson of impermanence.