Saturday, August 31, 2019

Alaska trip Pt. 5 -- Glaciers

Haines was our last stop of the cruise, with the rest of the cruise spent on-board: one day sailing in Glacier Bay National Park, the next traveling up the coast to view Hubbard Glacier

The night before, we had received the official map/flyer from the National Park, which was incredibly informative as an introduction to the Bay.  Even better was finding out the next morning that four park rangers (all young women) were now on board to provide information in person.  One staffed the ship-wide announcement system, another explained and sold literature in a lounge, and two circulated on the deck to answer questions.  They had come from the Park headquarters by boat early in the morning and climbed up a rope ladder to board and would reverse the process to go home at the end of their stint on the ship!

When the ship slowed and stopped, we were still some distance away -- at least a mile -- from the three glaciers we would have the opportunity to view.   (For all the below photos "objects appear much smaller than reality.") 

The dark "land" form below is actually the Grand Pacific Glacier, with sediment on its face, therefore looking quite different from what we expect.  This glacier, about 2 miles wide and with a 150 foot face, lies at the innermost point of Glacier Bay and is currently receding, like most of the glaciers.

The Margerie, a mile wide with a face of 250 feet, provided the most dramatic view, in my opinion, with the whitest and bluest colors on the face, appearing like a cliff dropping directly into the water,

while the Lampugh (below photo using "zoom") was crossed by fascinating lines, a top that was craggy rather than mostly flat, and had a smaller "outcropping" that seemed almost separate. This was the smallest in length, measuring about 3/4 of a mile long with the face 150 feet high. 

(Information about the sizes of the glaciers is taken from an overview of selected glaciers on the GBNP site.)

Our last glacier visit was the next day, when we stopped over a hundred miles north, to see Hubbard Glacier.  Hubbard was the largest on our itinerary with a width of over 6 miles on the ocean as well as heights on its face of up to 400 feet!   Once again, the scattering of light made it appear blue.

The next day was the final day of the cruise and we had to be up and about at 6:30 am when we docked in Seward.  We'd booked an excursion train to take us from the port directly to the Anchorage airport where we'd catch a flight to Portland, Oregon.  The train cars were specially designed for observation with windows up to the peak of the roof.   While we (I )drank our (my) much-needed coffee, we got to see some of the scenery a bit farther away from the coast.  Everyone was on the look-out for more wildlife, too, though a black bear climbing a mountain in the distance was our only success.

While I knew that I had seen only a tiny fraction of this gorgeous and amazing state, I was so grateful for the opportunity to view the sights I had seen on this trip, as well as to share it with my wonderful traveling companion!   What a great way to start off my retirement!  

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Progress report: Month 6 (October 2019)

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