Sunday, July 1st – We got up early to have breakfast before boarding our tour boat at 7am. We were scheduled on an 8 hour tour……all the way up Glacier Bay to the face of the Margerie Glacier.
In 1750, as the “little Ice Age” was ending, glaciers covered all of Glacier Bay. In 1788, Capt. James Cook and George Vancouver described Glacier Bay as “a compact sheet of ice as far as the eye could distinguish.” The ‘bay’ is a mere 5-mile indentation in the coastline. In 1879, when John Muir when explored the bay, glacial ice had retreated 40 miles. The glaciers now lie some 65 miles from the lodge at the inlet of the bay. This is noted to be the fastest glacial retreat ever recorded.
We tour Glacier Bay to see the incredible scenery left behind as glaciers retreated and re-vegetation occurs.
We also come to see the ‘critters’…….We saw lots of otters, they count about 4,000 of them now in Glacier Bay. Cute, but REALLY difficult to get a good picture of…….
And Stellar Sea Lions, whose population, though decreasing in Western Alaska, is thriving in the bay.
And birds…..thousands of sea gulls roost on Marble Island.
And Puffins can be seen floating on the waters of the bay.
But, mostly, we come to see the ice…….As we approached Margerie Glacier, we noticed more and more ice in the water.
Floating ice chunks….the result of glacial calving.
At the base of the glacier, the water was full of ice…..
And the glacier loomed up ahead…….1 mile across……and 150 feet high…..
These boats give some perspective of the size. All boats must stay 1/4 mile from the face of the glacier. Even so, we could feel the waves after a chunk of ice calved off.
That blue, blue ice of the glaciers…..
Sometimes striped with glacial dirt…….
Towering over the water……And, of course, we watch……the only real action of glacier viewing is watching for the occasional calving. So…..we watch….cameras ready…….
Trying to catch that perfect shot of a chunk of ice calving off….with a ‘boom’ and a splash, and a spray of ice and water. My shots always seem to be a bit late……
We toured the length of the bay and saw several other glaciers, but none as impressive as the Margerie.
There is a vastness and a solitude in this Alaskan landscape……..this ‘icy blue’……..