TRAVEL
12/03/2013 11:31 am ET | Updated Apr 01, 2014

Ditch Your Responsibilities And Go Hike The Mendenhall Ice Caves Before They Melt

These, dear friends, are the Mendenhall ice caves in Alaska. They exist only because a glacier is melting-- and as you can guess, glaciers don't keep on melting forever.

Over the past year, researchers have noticed strange ancient trees standing upright in the ice caves. Turns out that as it recedes, the glacier is unearthing forests which have been frozen for the last 1,000 years or so.

Explore these stellar havens for yourself on a trip to Alaska, or take a virtual journey with us on this icy Travel Tuesday.

140556731

93033614

Mendenhall Ice Caves in Alaska

On a real-life tour, hikers who enter the caves must understand the risk of falling ice, which can break off in chunks as big as refrigerators.

Because of the glacier's melting and movement, the size and color of the caves changes rapidly-- caverns have shrunk to as little as a third of their original size in a single year and changed color from deep turquoise to a lighter, dirtier blue.

ar6293001

140556731

aj5117001

80254101

80254108

Don't be shy! Come on in for a video tour!

Though it's alarming to think such a natural wonder is melting away, the process does have some rather cool side effects.

In the 1930s, for example, the glacial runoff started pooling together. The beautiful body of water now known as Mendenhall Lake has been growing more majestic ever since.

85050836

93033614

154330584

You can even get married there, if you're feelin' the vibes.

80254095

80254098

80254094

Till your melty death do us part, Mendenhall glacier.

92302988

ALSO ON HUFFPOST:

Glaciers

CONVERSATIONS