Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Glaciers and Icebergs, Southeast Alaska

  After a few weeks of beautiful weather and exciting wildlife encounters its hard to pick out one highlight to write about in my quick time at port. But looking through my recent pictures a clear choice became obvious, glaciers. On each of our trips we spend a day at a tidewater glacier. These are glaciers that flow down the mountain and enter the sea at their face.
   Sometimes just getting to the glacier can be the real adventure. Long, narrow, steep fjords showing the glaciers advancement in the past can be clogged with floating ice. Some of these icebergs can be larger than our ship, while others are in their last few days before melting to oblivion. Others show off the intensely pressurized ice inside the glacier in an almost otherworldly blue color.

  But if we can make it to the glacier face, the true vastness of the glacier can be known. These glaciers snake their way high up into the snow fields where they are born as a single tiny snowflake. And if you are patient, you might even get to see a piece of the tidewater glacier crack, and then break off in a mighty splash on its way to becoming an iceberg. One such calving event that I saw involved a massive overhanging section of the glacier face that collapsed all at once and disappeared beneath the opaque water. A second later it shot up out of the water to six or seven stories high, water streaming off of it like it was the US Enterprise or out of some Michael Bay Hollywood blockbuster. The sheer size and power of the event caused me to never question the quarter mile safety perimeter one must keep from the face.
  These pictures are from Sawyer glacier and Dawes glacier.

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