Friday, September 14, 2012

Day 5– Childs Glacier

Saturday, Aug 25th – The distance is deceptive…….Childs glacier is big….really big.
Look closely and you can see a bridge that crosses the river at the base of the glacier. This is the “Million Dollar Bridge”, not to be confused with the “million dollar bridge to nowhere” that was a congressional spending issue in the news a few years ago
We had a quick breakfast of granola and fruit, then started out a bit earlier than our usual, so that the guides could row us across the lake before the wind picked up, making it much more difficult. We were riding with Allison, again, and you could hear the steady effort as she rowed across the lake, working against the current at one point. It would take two hours to row across Miles Lake.

Miles glacier and Childs glacier are actively calving huge icebergs into the lake.
Some of them look like elaborate ice sculptures.

The glacier grew closer…until we finally arrived…..pulling the rafts out at the foot of this bridge. We crossed the bridge to walk down to a viewing area.
The “Million Dollar Bridge” over the Copper River was originally a railroad bridge and was so named because, when it was built in 1910, it cost $1,000,000 to build. The Copper River Hwy construction began in 1945 and was intended to run from Cordova, across the bridge, and on up to Chitina, linking Cordova to the Richardson Hwy. Construction halted with the 1964 earthquake which severely damaged the highway’s roadbed and bridges. The Copper River Highway now runs only 48.6 miles and stops at the bridge. Childs glacier could be accessed by this road until last year, when sections of the road were washed out.
Because Childs glacier was no longer accessible by road, we had this viewing area across the river from the glacier, to ourselves. We had packed our lunches that morning, and enjoyed a nice picnic while watching the glacier calve.

Glacier watching is a quiet activity that involves a lot of waiting and seeing……You hear a thunderous ‘crack’….but only after the glacier has begun to calve, due to the distance the sound has to travel. So, it seems my pictures are always a bit too late.

We spent several hours enjoying just being in the presence of this huge glacier, knowing that it would be our last up close and personal experience with a glacier for a while.

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While we were watching, a most unexpected thing happened…….a small black bear swam by. He must have tried to cross just near the bridge, then got caught in the river current, which  carried him past the glacier before he was able to make it over to the shore and climb out.

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