Saturday, August 21, 2010

On the Road – Seward to Haines – following the trail of a glacier

Tues Aug. 17 - (For those who have been wondering about the dates – I have been writing my posts for this blog day by day – but, with only sporadic internet availability, I have been uploading the posts when I get a chance and scheduling them to post only one or two a day.)

We said goodbye to Becky this morning – We have had a wonderful visit with Becky, sharing a week’s adventure here in Alaska, but it was time to move on, as we each have our own roads to travel. Fred and I are heading to Haines, AK (a small town at the very North end of the inside Passage) and Becky will be hanging out a bit longer around the Kenai Peninsula. So we packed up our little camper and headed out, as Becky headed into Seward to check out what new adventures she could find.

We were traveling on Hwy 1 (Glenn Hwy) from Anchorage towards Glennallen, following the Matanuska River. All morning, we were captivated by this wide valley that the river flowed through. We pulled over a number of times to just get a better view (and a picture).



We have learned, since being here in Alaska, that the glaciers carved these very wide U-shaped valleys many years before. Snow falling each year far in excess of what can melt off over the summer, compacts the snow into ice – creating glaciers. These glaciers follow the force of gravity, scooping out the earth as they go and depositing ground up rock and gravel along the way. We marveled at the force of the glaciers and their ability to carve out the landscape.



We wondered what this landscape would have looked like thousands of years before, when glaciers covered this entire area and came as far south as Chicago.

Then we rounded the bend, and our breath was taken away- there was Matanuska Glacier.



Right there – was the glacier that had formed the valley that we had been following!



As glacier met moraine (the gravel beds that glaciers leave behind) and glacial melt flowed into rivers, we came to really appreciate the force of the glaciers and the role they played in sculpting this earth.

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