Glaciers... I can still remember learning about glaciers as a kid in high school. Learning about the powerful impact they had on the surface of the earth was a bit mind-boggling. It was a bit unbelievable to hear my teacher tell me that this massive field of ice would move slowly across the crust of the earth, knocking down hills and carving flat plains as it moved. However, actually seeing one was indescribable!
Our first sight of a glacier was at Mendenhall Glacier outside of Juneau, Alaska. Unfortunately, it is the typical tourist stop; large parking lot, bus & shuttle pick up points, and a visitors center. Inside the visitors center, there were several park rangers that shared the history of Mendenhall Glacier and guided us through some diorama's, and provided us with an educational video. There are walking paths along the glacier lake and then right up to the glacier itself. We didn't have a lot of time, so we walked through the visitor's center and then down to the edge of the lake. It was a beautiful place, but fairly crowded and rushed. I left feeling a little disappointed. However, our wonderful ship captain provided us with the perfect glacier experience.
Part of our cruise was scheduled to sail into Tracy Arm Fjord to visit another glacier. However, our captain found out that 2 other cruise ships were also scheduled to visit the same fjord that day. He petitioned for special permission to sail into Endicott Fjord instead. From everything our cruise director said, this was a special treat for us. Endicott Fjord is much more pristine and the glacier is much larger.
We hit the mouth of the fjord around 5:30 a.m. and sailed slowly and quietly through the fjord for about 2 hours. Ron and I went up on deck around 6:00, to find the weather gray, gloomy, and drizzling. Thankfully, we were bundled up and stayed on deck as the captain sailed the ship up the fjord. Slowly, we noticed that the water was changing from the dark, blue gray of the Pacific to an unusual blue-green. We also began to notice ice bergs of various sizes surrounding the ship. The fjord was strangely quiet; all we could hear the sloshing of the water as it hit the side of the ship, and the rushing of water as it tumbled down the sides of the mountains that surround the fjord. Suddenly, there was a deafening cracking of ice as the glacier calved, followed by the splash when this massive chunk of ice slid into the water. By 7:00, the weather had cleared and the sun was shining beautifully just as the captain started to slowly turn the ship in order to provide each side of the ship with an unobstructed view of the glacier.
If I were to pick words to describe Endicott Glacier, they would be majestic, tranquil, and celestial. How anyone could see the wonders of Alaska and not believe in a divine creation, is beyond me. Once again, I wish I was a true photographer and owned the perfect camera. My pictures do not do this wondrous place justice.
|view of the walking path at Mendenhall Glacier...|
|chunks of glacier ice floating in the lake at Mendenhall Glacier...|
|Mendenhall Glacier from the scenic overlook...|
|Ron and I at the edge of the glacier lake...|
|glacier ice bergs in Endicott Fjord...|
|snow capped mountains that surround Endicott Fjord...|
|Our first sight of Endicott glacier...|
|One of many small streams flowing from other glaciers into the fjord...|
|A group of either otter or seal (?) ...|
|The glacier was about 200 feet away from the ship..|
|Beautiful blue glacier...|
If I were much younger and very wealthy, I would take an entire summer to explore the wonders of this great state.