Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Glaciers’ Category

Welcome back to this site after our diversion to www.dymusings.com for photos and stories of David’s treks and explorations of parts of China and Mongolia. We hope our regular readers have enjoyed those posts and thank you for joining David for his journeys.

He’s having a rest from travel at the moment and will be off again later in the year.

So to keep all of our armchair travellers out and about and exploring the world, we’ll now return to my journey with David through Alaska’s Inside Passage adventure in June 2015 with National Geographic/ Lindblad expeditions on our small ship Sea Lion. Of course, as I write this from the heat of an Australian summer, Alaska is in the midst of deep winter. But no matter; we can still enjoy more of this amazing part of the world together. I will be posting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for those who wish to follow these post.

In the last post that I published on this site, (#23 in this Alaskan series), we sailed north through Glacier Bay National Park towards the glaciers that give the park its name. In this post we’ll add photos of some of those majestic glaciers which can only be viewed from the ship… no landings are permitted within this National Park.

Glacier Map

Glacier Map

Glacier Bay needs a full day’s sailing to explore; it covers 3,280.198 acres and we only saw the part visible from our good ship as it meandered its way up through the mountains.

As we sailed, our National Park guide reminded us that when Capt. George Vancouver sailed the Alaska coast in 1794, Glacier Bay did not exist. It lay beneath a sheet of glacial ice several miles wide and thousands of feet thick. Since then, in one of the fastest glacial retreats on record, the ice has shrunk back the 65 miles of our sailing. As it has shrunk, it has unveiled new land and a new bay. It’s as if this area is returning to life after a long winter’s sleep.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110593

Approaching Margerie Glacier © DY of jtdytravels; P1110593

The first glacier we approached was the Margerie Glacier in the Tarr Inlet. This glacier is about 1.6 km (1 mile) wide and it’s height at the face is about 110m (350 ft) ; that includes the ice that extends underwater for a depth of 30m (100 feet). Although at this point the glacier still looked far away and not too large, it grew in grandeur as we approached. 

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140228

Margerie Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140228

Margerie Glacier extends up into the mountains for a length of 34 km (21 miles) to its source on the southern slopes of Mount Root.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1110602

Margerie Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1110602

We were able to clearly see the black lines of moraine… the dirt and rocks that are carried down with the ice towards the terminus.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110605

Margerie Glacier © DY of jtdytravels; P1110605

We were able to get close enough to see the deep blues in the fissures in the ice.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140231

Margerie Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140231

We were told that an iceberg’s colour often reveals its makeup; dense bergs are blue, while those filled with trapped air bubbles are white.

© JT od jtdytravels; P1140235

Margerie Glacier © JT od jtdytravels; P1140235

There were many wonderful ice sculptures to hold our attention.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140253

Margerie Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140253

Some seemed to be on the verge of breaking away to calve into the bay.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140255

Margerie Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140255

Ice has been a major force in the Glacier Bay region for at least the last seven million years. However, the glaciers we gazed at with such awe, are remnants of ‘ The Little Ice Age”… a general ice advance that began about 4,000 years ago.  The ice here reached its maximum extent about 1750, when general melting began.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140219

Margerie Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140219

This is a good example of the layering effect of a glacier… layer upon layer of ice with layers of moraine trapped in the ice for perhaps centuries.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140258

Margerie Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140258

We were lucky enough to see several calvings of ice from the face of the glacier. It’s just difficult to get your timing right for photos! You can be watching one end of the face, when with a loud creak and crash, the ice falls from another part. But you always hear them. When the ice hits the water it sounds like a cannon shot. “White thunder,” the Tlingit called it, ‘the awesome voice of glacial ice’.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140252

Margerie Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140252

The remains of a calving break up into various sized icebergs that float off down the bay. Blocks of ice up to 200 feet high sometimes break loose and crash into the water.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140294

John Hopkins Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140294

Without doubt, the most majestic glacier in Glacier bay National Park is the John Hopkins Glacier. It’s 19 km (12 m) long and cannot be approached too closely by ships… the bergs that carve here are too large for safety. And, anyway, this is a favourite safe haul out for harbour seals… well away away from predators, especially when they are pupping.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140303

John Hopkins Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140303

With a long distance lens, the ‘roads of moraine’ are clearly visible.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140299

John Hopkins Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140299

John Hopkins is one of the several huge tidewater glaciers that flow out of from these mountains and down to the sea.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140327

A retreating glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140327

Our guide told us that scientists come here regularly to study glacial retreat; this area is called by some “a living laboratory for the grand processes of glacial retreat, plant succession, and animal dynamics. It is an open book on the last ice age.”

As we sailed between glaciers, we saw that much of the very rugged, more recently deglaciated land was beginning to host some vegetation.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140324

A retreating glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140324

Several glaciers were continuing their retreat back into the mountains.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140353

Lamplugh Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140353

Lamplugh Glacier was my favourite of all the glaciers. It rises 45 to 55 m (150-180 ft) above the waterline and goes down 3 to 12 m (10-40 ft) below. The Lamplugh is immense; almost 1.2 km (3/4 ml) wide. It flows for 26 km (16 ml) from its source at a rate of 365 m (1200 ft) per year. They are pretty impressive statistics; but not as impressive as being there, right there… close up to such grandeur!

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140335

Lamplugh Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140335

While we were enjoying the spectacle of such a wonderful glacier, our guide gave us brief explanation of the formation of a glacier. Up in the high mountains, at the source of the glacier, it’s so cold that none of the snow melts even in the summer… so the snowfall exceeds snowmelt. Over time, that snow pack builds up until the weight of the upper, newer, layers of snow press down on previous layers of snow, deforming the flakes beneath and changing them into granular snow, like round ice grains. I was amazed to learn that individual crystals can sometimes grow the size of a football. Air trapped between the snowflakes is also frozen into the ice at this immense pressure.  Eventually the granular snow becomes solid ice, many, many meters thick.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140339

Lamplugh Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140339

The ice near the bottom of the glacier is under such tremendous pressure that it flows almost like plastic over the rock beneath. Friction between the glacier and the bedrock produces meltwater which also allows the ice to slide. In places, you can see a cave like section under the glacier where the lowest layer of ice has melted away.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140349

Lamplugh Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140349

It’s fascinating to watch large chunks of the ice calve off forming icebergs, some so large they might last a week or more as they deteriorate and melt way. Icebergs provide perches for bald eagles, cormorants, and gulls, as well as haul-outs for seals.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140352

Lamplugh Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140352

We heard the mighty crash and splash as more ice fell into the bay. Spectacular! But it was also a timely reminder that icebergs are in retreat in many places around the world… and that’s not a good scenario for rising sea levels.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140359

Lamplugh Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140359

Here, we were able to witness the start of an iceberg’s journey down towards the sea. Earlier in our journey, we’d had the privilege of getting up very close to icebergs in our inflatables. Then, we’d actually heard the crackles and pops as ancient, long-trapped air was released from the ice.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140314 2

Retreating Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1140314 2

Too soon, it was time to sail back south away from the glaciers. There, on slopes which had been deglaciated 50 to 100 years ago, we saw alder and willow growing in the moraine close down to the shore. Rocky areas and cliffs, exposed within the last 30 years, had patches of pioneering plant life such as mosses, mountain avens and dwarf fireweed. And on the crest of the view was the last vestige of yet another retreating glacier.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110591

Leaving the glacier zone © DY of jtdytravels; P1110591

The further down the bay we sailed, the more vegetation we saw. This new vegetation has created habitats for wolves, moose, mountain goats, black bears, brown bears, ptarmigan, and other wildlife; all in an environment less than 200 years old. Our park ranger guide told us stories of her camping trips in the wild here and of her contact with some of these animals… up close and personal! A little too close and personal for my liking!

The sea here also supports a wide variety of life; salmon, bald eagles, harbour seals, harbour porpoises, killer whales and humpback whales… and its the story of one particular whale that will be the centre of our next Alaska posting.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass this site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

.

.

.

.

.

 

Read Full Post »

A much anticipated day was our visit to Glacier Bay National Park.

Glacier Bay map

Glacier Bay map

This area, at the northern end of Tongass National Forest on the Alaskan Panhandle is very special. As far back as February 25th, 1925, the uniqueness of this area was noted. It needed to preserved as true wilderness. In a far sighted act, the then US President, Calvin Coolidge, proclaimed it a ‘National Monument under the Antiquities Act’.

In total, the wilderness area of Glacier Bay National Park covers 10,784 km² (4,164 mi²). There’s also a large extension to the park that’s called a preserve, where hunting can be undertaken, but only under special licence. I’ve never been able to fathom the need for people to hunt and shoot wild animals for ‘trophies’ but that’s the way it is in these parts.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140458

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140458

The entrance to Glacier Bay is close to the entrance of the Inside Passage. The big Cruise Ships come in from the Gulf of Alaska via Icy Strait, away from the rolling sea, as I remember it from my last visit here in 2001, and into much calmer waters. On this visit to Alaska, in 2015, I’d spent the night asleep on board our small ship ‘Sea Lion” in the calm waters of one of the nearby coves. In the morning, we only had to sail across the strait to the National Park  headquarters to pick up our guide, Nicole. Every ship, large or small, must take on board a Park Ranger. Their task is to check that no rules are broken and also to act as the NP guide for the day.

Many of the glaciers in this famous Bay, owe their existence to the largest of all mountains in the area, Mt Fairweather. Storms blow in from the ocean and dump their icy waters as snow on and over the Mt Fairweather area. Over centuries, glaciers form from the compacted snow.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140456

Tlingit Totem symbol © JT of jtdytravels; P1140456

In the 1800’s, this area became a fishing place for the native Huna Tlingit. Their name for the highest mountain in the area was Tsalxhaan.  When Captain James Cook saw it, on a fine day in 1778, he named it Mt Fairweather… not really an apt description as it’s not often seen for cloud and is not known for fair weather. Regardless of that, Cook’s naming has been kept.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140448

Glacier Bay in 1750 © JT of jtdytravels; P1140448

The story of Glacier Bay in recorded history is one of fast, spectacular retreat. In Tlingit memory, a huge glacier protruded out into Icy Strait. The first European to mention this area was French explorer La Perouse in 1786. Then, when George Vancouver’s expedition came this way in 1794, they found Icy Strait choked with ice…. hence the name. The area we now know as Glacier Bay was in fact just one tidewater glacier. By 1879, just 85 years later, the famous naturalist John Muir found that the glacier had retreated up the bay by 77km (48mi). And by 1916, the ‘Grand Pacific Glacier’ had retreated 105km (65mi) from the mouth of the bay. This was the fastest recorded iceberg retreat and has been studied by scientists ever since.

The most dramatic example of glacier retreat in the last century was that of the glacier named after John Muir. The calving face of Muir Glacier was 3.2 km (2mi) wide and 81 m (265 ft) high. By the 1990’s, it was no longer calving into the bay. It had retreated back into the ice sheet in the mountains. One wonders what Muir would have made of that!

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140452

Tlingit summer fishing camp © JT of jtdytravels; P1140452

In the late 1800’s, John Muir found the Tlingit people living in their summer camps near the mouth of the bay. They came here to fish and hunt. These people travelled in their dug out canoes throughout these waters, fishing, hunting and visiting other clans for weddings and for ‘potlatch’ ceremonies in which gifts were exchanged to keep peace between the various clans. Maybe we could learn something from this ‘potlatch’ tradition today to help maintain peace instead of resorting to seemingly endless wars! A tradition of giving rather than taking!

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140425

Tlingit canoe © JT of jtdytravels; P1140425

This example of a Tlingit canoe was built, in the traditional way using an adze, by craftsmen in 1987.  It’s made from a single spruce tree and is on show at the Ranger’s headquarters.

After picking up our Park guide Nicole and her understudy, Jenny, we sailed on into the bay in search of wildlife. This was the distinct advantage of being on such a small ship. The large cruise ships sail straight up the bay to see the glaciers and then straight back down again. We had the priviledge of taking our time, of exploring around small islands, of slowing right down when animals were sighted and of getting in close to bays and beaches and cliffs. But we stayed on board. There were no off ship excursions or activities. That was not permitted.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110474

Stellar Sea Lions hauled out on a rock © DY of jtdytravels; P1110474

Small rocks we passed were often covered in Steller sea lions. They are named after Georg Wilhelm Steller who first described them as a distinct type of sea lion in 1741. They are the largest of the eared seals and like other sea lions, they are thigmotactic; they like to cuddle up close together!

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110503

Steller Sea Lions © DY of jtdytravels; P1110503

Steller sea lions are, for some as yet unexplained reason, declining in numbers in Alaska. They are the object of much debate by Alaskan scientists, fishermen and politicians. The reason for the decline is likely to be a complex web of factors including less available fish due to over fishing. With less fatty fish like herring available, sea lions eat more of the leaner fish like pollock and flounder. This limits the amount of fat in the diet, a necessary requirement for survival in these cold waters. Other reasons put forward for this decline in numbers are: shooting by fishermen who see the sea lions as a threat to their own livelihoods, changes in climate, contaminants in waters and increased predation by orcas. The latter I find hard to believe. We did not see one Orca on the whole expedition.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140041

Steller Sea Lion defending territory © JT of jtdytravels; P1140041

The big bull Steller sea lions constantly defend their chosen territory. They are polygynous but, unlike the sea lion species we had seen in Galapagos, these Stella sea lions don’t have harems of females. Instead the bulls control a space where females can come and go but no other male is welcome. We watched this big fellow see off several intruders.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110498

Cormorants © DY of jtdytravels; P1110498

These cormorants seemed to be doing the impossible; standing on a steeply sloping rock face. But they do more than just stand on the slopes; they nest on narrow ledges and shallow depressions on the steepest slopes they can find on the cliffs of rocky islands like this one. The nests are made of anything they can find such as marine algae, grass, moss, sticks and flotsam and debris. They use their excrement to cement these bits and pieces together. All that work is not wasted as the nests are reused year after year. These birds are great divers and feed mostly on bottom feeding fish and invertebrates.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140074

Puffin © JT of jtdytravels; P1140074

It was wonderful to see quite a lot of puffins in these waters near the small islands. But they are very small and so hard to photograph. And they are endlessly diving for small fish. Their large colourful bills are more colourful in the summer nesting season than in winter when the bill’s outer layers are shed. Their black and white plumage is referred to in their genus name  Fratercula, which is derived from the Latin meaning ‘little brother’. It was thought that their plumage resembles monastic robes. Once again, perhaps some imagination is required!

In general, puffins nest underground but at rocky sites like these islands, they do nest on cliff faces. The female lays just one whitish egg and then both parents take turns in the important tasks of incubating the egg and going out to fish. The chick is hatched in July or early August, and then the parents take turns in caring for and feeding the chick. At about five days old, the chick has to fend for itself on that ledge whilst both parents go out to find food.  As the colder weather comes in, the birds leave to spend the winter in the Ocean and never venturing back to the land until the next breeding season. So we were very lucky to see them at nesting time.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140105

Braided stream © JT of jtdytravels; P1140105

In several places we saw braided streams coming down through old glacial valleys. Here, the pioneer plants like Alder were in evidence, re-establishing land previously covered in ice.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140116

Snow and ice covered mountains ahead. © JT of jtdytravels; P1140116

Ice covered mountains came into sight the further north we sailed up the bay.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140147

Rocky cliffs scoured by glacial action © JT of jtdytravels; P1140147

Only lichens and mosses could grow on these cliff faces.

© JY of jtdytravels; P1140166

Grizzly Bear © JY of jtdytravels; P1140166

The cry of “BEAR! BEAR!” soon had everyone rushing to the side of the ship. Because we were on such a small ship, the captain was able to edge closer to the shore and hold position while we watched the bear graze and wander through the grasses. It took absolutely no notice of us.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110543

An old glacial valley © DY of jtdytravels; P1110543

We sailed by several of these very picturesque old glacial valleys, testament to the time when this bay was covered in ice… and that just over two hundred years ago… not millennia!

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140168

A beach of glacial murrain © JT of jtdytravels; P1140168

Gravel brought down by the stream from this mountain had formed a beach.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140204

Wolves © JT of jtdytravels; P1140204

And it was on that beach that we saw wolves (Canis lupus). This caused great excitement. Many of our crew had never seen them and the Captain said it was most unusual to find them in this area. They are usually much more secretive. But on this day, these two chose to wander along the beach and were in view for at least twenty minutes. We just slowly followed them along the beach… from the safety of the ship, of course.

These wolves had very dark pelts, much darker than those found in northern parts of Alaska where, I suppose, they need to be able to ‘melt into’ the colours of a very different landscape. But the pelt colour of Alaskan wolves ranges from black to nearly white, with every shade of grey and brown in between although grey or black wolves like these are the most common.

Wolves can be legally hunted and trapped in Alaska, outside of the area of the National Park. They are classified as both big game animals and as furbearers and are deemed to be not endangered in Alaska. We were told that between 1994 and 2005 more than 14,000 wolves were reported to have been killed or trapped by hunters… and probably as many as that were not reported. We were glad that these two had the protection of a National Park.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110565

Mountain goats © DY of jtdytravels; P1110565

Mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus), as their name suggests, inhabit rugged habitats. They are the only North American representative of mountain ‘ungulates’ or rock goats. And they need to live in an environment like this where wolves can’t easily get to them. To survive here, their hooves are specially designed for climbing on steep, slippery slopes. Their feet have a hard keratinous sheath with an imbedded soft pad which enables them grip the maximum surface area on even the smallest rock or crevice. It was fascinating to watch these three gamble about on this cliff, grazing, but ever watchful.

They have another survival adaptation that allows them to live in the extreme conditions of South East Alaska; in winter they grow a long, shaggy coat. They would need it!

© DY of jtdytravels; P1110572

Sailing ever closer to those remaining glaciers © DY of jtdytravels; P1110572

We left our search for wild life and sailed on towards the glaciers,

still quite a way to go to the head of the bay.

So time out for lunch.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140314

The ice shelf visible above an old valley © JT of jtdytravels; P1140314

After lunch the terrain around had changed somewhat.

Now we could see evidence of the ice shelf in the heights above a valley.

Stunning scenery all around us.

© JT of jtdytravels; P1140322

Small ice flows in the water © JT of jtdytravels; P1140322

Finally, the glaciers were heralded by sightings of small ice flows in the water.

And the glaciers that ice came from is the subject of our next post.

Jennie and David

All photographs copyright © JT  and DY  of  jtdytravels

If you enjoy these armchair travels, please pass our site onto others

www.jtdytravels.com

more of our travel stories and photos can be found on

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

.

 

.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Full Post »

Ice flows ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100299

Ice flows © DY of jtdytravels; P1100299

After lunch we dropped anchor at the mouth of LeConte Glacier Bay.

We seemed to be surrounded by slow moving chunks of ice.

LeConte Glacier Bay ©  Jt  of  jtdytravels; P1130615

LeConte Glacier Bay © Jt of jtdytravels; P1130615

The fiord leading up to the glacier was hidden from view; just around the corner.

It was a tantalising prospect!

Google Sattelite photo of Glacier Bay Alaska

Google Satellite photo of Glacier Bay Alaska

We, of course, would not see this satellite view but it helps to get an overview of the glacier and part of the Stikine Icefield from which it comes. This glacier is 34 km (21 ml) long and 1.6km (1 ml) wide and it’s the southern most tidewater glacier in the Northern Hemisphere. It was named in 1887 in honour of one of John Muir’s friends, California geologist Joseph LeConte.

Our expedition notes tell us that the fiord leading up to the glacier is 19km (12ml) long, “carved out of the coastal mountain range over thousands of years. However, in 1995, this glacier suddenly shrank, retreating .8km (.5ml) in just 5 months. Then in 1988, it retreated nearly another 1.6km (1 ml) more and so became one of the fastest retreating glaciers in the world.”

Web photo of LeConte Glacier

Web photo of LeConte Glacier

We wouldn’t go right to the face of the glacier as it’s extremely active and the waters at the face are filled with icebergs, large and small. The water at the face is 250 m (810 ft) deep and this glacier is well known for what are known as “shooters”; icebergs that calve off the glacier under water and shoot up and through the surface since the ice is lighter than the water.

Harbour seals migrate to this ice filled end of LeConte Bay for the birthing and rearing of their pups. The ice makes a perfect place to haul out and sometimes many animals can be seen on one iceberg. Here they are safe from predators such as Orca Whales which don’t attempt to navigate this end of the ice filled bay.

©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100302

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100302

And we wouldn’t attempt that end of the bay either! But we did leave ‘Sea Lion” in more open waters and used the inflatable DIBs to travel a few kilometres into the fiord for an afternoon of exploration.

Ready to go on DIB Pisces ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130636

Ready to go on DIB Pisces © JT of jtdytravels; P1130636

These very sturdy inflatable DIBs would allow us to go much further into the bay than we could explore by ship… and we would see some of the largest icebergs in South East Alaska. They’re certainly not as big as those David and I had seen in Antarctica some years ago but there were many and varied icebergs to be seen and enjoyed, both in size and shape with colours from pure white to ice blue.

© DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100308

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100308

So let’s head into the fiord and make the most of a sun filled afternoon to get up really close and experience the stunning beauty of some of nature’s amazing ‘ice sculptures’. I’ll let the photos tell the story.

©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100317

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100317

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130659

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130659

.

©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100311

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100311

.

© DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100322

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100322

.

©  Jt  of  jtdytravels; P1130654

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130654

.

.

©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100329

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100329

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130647

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130647

.

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130664

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130664

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130662

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130662

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130665

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130665

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130667

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130667

.

© JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130679

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130679

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130681

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130681

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130687

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130687

.

©  JT  of jtdytravels; P1130684

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130684

.

©  DY of jtdytravels; P1100328

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100328

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130712

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130712

.

©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100332

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100332

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130724

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130724

.

© JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130733

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130733

.

.

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130742

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130742

.

©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130745

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130745

.

©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100348

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100348

.

© DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100342

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100342

Time’s up! We’re called back to the ship. However, we were in no hurry to leave the magic of floating amongst these strange, fantastic chunks of ice. Our DIB driver, the ship’s bosun, Nicky, and our naturalist guide, Caroline, were enjoying the experience as much as we were. It’s often very wet and quite cold in this fiord, so they, too, were able to enjoy being out amongst the icebergs on a sunny and relatively warm afternoon. Eventually, however, it was indeed time to leave the harbour seals to their solitude and return to “Sea Lion’ with our cameras filled with photos and our minds filled with some truly wonderful memories. And now, we have enjoyed being able to share that memorable experience with you.

More anon

Jennie and David

All photographs © Jennie Thomas & David Young of jtdytravels

Our other travel site is

www.dymusings.com

More of our travel photos are on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

Read Full Post »

So where were we when we had our wonderful encounter with whales?

Cargo Barge in Stephens Passage ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130525

Cargo Barge in Stephens Passage © JT of jtdytravels; P1130525

I knew we must be in one of the few main waterways that carve their way through the islands of the Inside Passage because, very early in the morning, before we saw the whales, I’d seen this cargo barge being pulled along by a tug boat.  As there are no roads into Juneau, this is the way most goods are moved around in this part of the world. 

Stephens Passage ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130584

Stephens Passage © JT of jtdytravels; P1130584

Overnight, we had sailed 105 km (65 ml) south from Juneau along Stephens Passage, the main shipping ‘highway’. The expedition’s very jovial professional wildlife photographer, Steve Morello, marked up the map with arrows and a ‘whale tail’ to pinpoint our encounter! The map is in greens because we were passing through Tongass National Forest…  more about that forest later.

Five Finger Lighthouse ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130577

Five Finger Lighthouse © JT of jtdytravels; P1130577

On the map, right beside Steve’s whale tail, I noticed a lighthouse called Five Finger Lighthouse. Ah Ha! While watching the whales, I had spied that lighthouse in the distance and had taken a photo to try to pinpoint our position.  It pays to look up from the exhilaration of whale spotting and take a look at your surroundings… occasionally, anyway!

I’ve researched the Five Finger Lighthouse since and now know that:  it’s been an active navigation beacon since 1902. The original timber building was burned down in 1933… (timber and naked flames are a bit hazardous, are they not?) A new concrete building was built during the Depression. It was completed and relit in 1935. The last resident light house keeper left in 1984 when the lighthouse was automated. Now the Coast Guard is in charge of  maintenance. In 2004, Five Finger Lighthouse was put on the National Register of Historic Buildings. A Juneau based group of volunteers has taken on the task of restoring the lighthouse and out buildings. They hope to use the site as a whale research centre and for environmental educational purposes.

That’s the summary.  I’ve given the lighthouse web site at the end of this post. It includes some interesting stories for you to peruse at your leisure.

Map of Stephens Passage and Frederick Sound ©  Jt  of  jtdytravels; P1130581

Map of Stephens Passage and Frederick Sound © Jt of jtdytravels; P1130581

While we enjoyed our breakfast, the Captain turned ‘Sea Lion’ away from the main shipping channel and began to sail through Frederick Sound, an area we were to explore for the next two days. First chartered in 1794 by two of Captain George Vancouver’s men, this sound was named in honour of Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany.

During the morning we cruised south towards Le Conte Glacier. Whatever the afternoon brought for us, we were already very happy and well satisfied with our first morning encounter with those whales. Anything else would be a bonus!

Brady on lookout duty! ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130585

Brady on lookout duty! © JT of jtdytravels; P1130585

While many of the adults chose to spend the morning on the aft sun deck, young Brady found his special spot, perched in the bow with binoculars at the ready. He was one of 3 children on board, and by far the most inquisitive of the three. Brady’s dream is to become a naturalist and he certainly shows the right aptitude to reach his goal.

The age range on board was from 80 to 6 years old…. the latter was a bit too young in my opinion. But he came with his family group; grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts and sister! There were quite a few smaller family groups, a great way to get together when family is spread across the length and breadth of the country. Most passengers came from the ‘Lower 48’ of the USA with one New Zealander and four of us from Australia.

David watches the world go by! © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130596

David watches the world go by! © JT of jtdytravels; P1130596

The sky was a clear and blue, the waters flat calm, the surrounding mountains were topped with snow. Here, we were a long way from the busy and sometimes worrying and chaotic world we had left behind. Here, there was not a house, not a telegraph pole in sight, not even another boat or ship. David and I chose to watch the stunningly beautiful scenery slip by from the walkway just outside our room.

Our room on 'Sea Lion" ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1140127

Our room on ‘Sea Lion” © JT of jtdytravels; P1140127

And what was our room like, I hear some say. Small, basic but comfortable. Two single beds with firm mattresses. A small shower/toilet room with a curtain to protect the latter from getting wet while we used the former. A basin in the bedroom. Plenty of hot clean water… potable water. A large window so that the scenery was always visible. All we needed.

And, what we really loved was this… there were no locks on any doors! Oh, what a feeling of freedom! It was wonderful to be in an environment of complete trust. It reminded me of my life as a child, living in a tiny country village where no one had a lock; no one owned a key! We lived in trust, without fear of robbery or of ‘strangers’ who might wish us harm. How different the world is today.

Purse Seine Fishing vessel ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130593

Purse Seine Fishing vessel © JT of jtdytravels; P1130593

About halfway down the Sound, we caught site of a purse seining fishing boat. It had already strung its net in a circle, floats on the top side, weights below.  The crew was waiting for the fish to gather within the circle. Then they would pull on the ropes attached to the lower part of the net to make the ‘purse’ that traps the fish. We cruised on, leaving them to their task.

Diagram of Purse Seine Fishing

A description of purse seine fishing with good photos of each of the stages in the catch can be found on the web site given at the end of this post. The diagram above is taken from that site.

© JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130638

© JT of jtdytravels; P1130638

Back to the peace of quiet cruising.

Small ice chunks floated by, some in fantastical shapes.

Ship's wash ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130599

Ship’s wash © JT of jtdytravels; P1130599

I lost my thoughts in the rhythmic movement of water patterns.

Ever changing abstracts.

I realised anew that each of us needs ‘time out’ to withdraw from cares;

especially from those cares that will not withdraw from us.

Water abstract ©  DY  of  jtdytravels; P1100286

Water abstract © DY of jtdytravels; P1100286

David was also looking for water abstracts.

I love this one.

Harbour Seal on ice flow ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130604

Harbour Seal on ice flow © JT of jtdytravels; P1130604

A harbour seal floated by

taking a ride on a small ice flow… what a way to go!

View from the bridge © JT of  jtdytravels; P1130606

View from the bridge © JT of jtdytravels; P1130606

I moved back to my spot in front of the bridge.

This was a much wider view.

How peaceful is that?

Small ice flow © JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130607

Small ice flow © JT of jtdytravels; P1130607

Many of the ice flows were now larger.

We were getting ever closer to Le Conte Glacier Bay.

Panorama ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130613

Panorama © JT of jtdytravels; P1130613

The mountains were closing in on us… more ice flows appeared.

And then lunch was served!

More anon

Jennie and David

Photography © JT and DY  of  jtdytravels

Our other travels sites are:

www.jtdytravels.com

and

www.dymusings.com

The Five Finger Lighthouse web site is:

www.5fingerlighthouse.com

The Purse Seining fishing link is:

http://www.thekitchn.com/this-is-one-way-to-catch-salmon-in-alaska-193566

or Google

One Way to Catch Salmon In Alaska:

Onboard the Purse Seine Owyhee

Read Full Post »

One of our aims on this trip was to find and document as many flowering plants as we could. David is, after all, a horticulturist with “sap in his veins” and I’m enamoured of plants and flowers; what more motivation did we need!

Nugget Falls © JT of jtdytravels; P1130474

Nugget Falls © JT of jtdytravels; P1130474

So, now, let’s go plant hunting with David as he wanders towards Nugget Falls in the stunningly beautiful environment of Mendenhall Glacier. There’s not a lot of time for this exploration… time constraint is always a problem in the life of a plant hunter… but with David’s keen eye to find plants endemic to the area, there’s plenty to see and enjoy.

Plant names and notes are given to the best of our knowledge. Should you think otherwise, please let us know in the comment section below. I’ve also researched each plant that David photographed and have found interesting facts about each one to share with you.  

Mendenhall Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1130473

Mendenhall Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1130473

One fascinating part of plant hunting is to look out for the “succession factor”; in this case the way different plants take their turn in colonising the moraines left bare by a retreating glacier. We look down at a green swathe now, but that has taken maybe a hundred or more years to become established to this point in its evolution. I’ve added David’s photos in a way that will, hopefully, explain how the plant colonisation has happened here in Mendenhall.

Salix sitchensis Sitka Willow © DY of jtdytravels; P1100188

Salix sitchensis © DY of jtdytravels; P1100188

The first pioneer plants here are usually the ones whose seeds arrive on the wind, like the spores of mosses; plants that help to bind the rubble into mats onto which other seeds can find a place to grow. Like moss spores, the fluffy seeds of willows such as Salix sitchensis, or Sitka Willow, are so light, they travel on the breeze for some distance, even many kilometres. However, the tiny Salix seed has to find a suitable place to germinate very quickly because it only retains viability for about 24 hours. Undoubtedly, many of the abundant seeds produced by a Salix plant will fall on inhospitable surfaces and die. Those that live are true pioneers.

These willows can survive harsh environments without much nutrient. They reproduce quickly and abundantly but, as early colonisers, they are often stunted in growth and short lived. On their death, their decaying matter provides some nutrients for the next group of colonising plants which naturalists sometimes call “the homesteaders”.

Sitka Alder © DY of jtdytravels; P1100190

Alnus crispa ssp. sinuata © DY of jtdytravels; P1100190

These are the developing cones of Alnus crispa sp.sinuata, known as Sitka Alder, one of the dominant “homesteaders”. They are the first plants to really thrive in recently deglaciated terrain in Alaska and are important because their leaf litter adds nitrogen to the soil (in much the same way as clovers and legumes). With that enrichment of the soil, plants such as willows and cottonwoods have a much better chance of thriving.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100192

Alnus crispa ssp. sinuata © DY of jtdytravels; P1100192

Mature cones of Sitka Alder, Alnus crispa ssp. sinuata may hang on the trees for long after their seeds are dispersed. Such cones are sometimes electroplated with gold and sold in the gift shops as jewellery. (They might have made the perfect souveneir for our Christmas tree but we didn’t see any for sale and in any case we can’t bring wood products into Australia.)

Boschniakia rossica Northern Groundcone © DY of jtdytravels; P1100193

Boschniakia rossica  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100193

The Alders play host to this unusual plant, Boschniakia rossica, commonly called Northern Groundcone, which looks very much like a bunch of pine cones stuck in the ground. It grows in the dense shade under Alder thickets where not much else can grow. It needs no light as it produces no chlorophyl. It is, in fact, a parasitic herb which lives on the roots of the Alder. What look like cone scales are really brownish, two lipped flowers. Grizzly bears like to feast on these thick fleshy plants… but none were around on this day, fortunately!

The plant is named after a Russian botanist, A.K. Boschniak. That’s not surprising since the Russians had a base in nearby Sitka from 1799 until 1867… the latter being the year that Alaska was purchased from Russia by the USA. 

Lupinus nootkatensis © JY of jtdytravels; P1130481

Lupinus nootkatensis © JY of jtdytravels; P1130481

A plant that is also important in the plant colonisation process here in Alaska is Lupinus nootkatensis, the delightful Alaskan Lupin, or Nootka Lupin, seen growing here in a bed of moss.  Lupins also add much needed nitrogen to the soil, enriching the environment for other plants to survive and thrive. Grizzly bears like to feast on the Lupin roots.

Lupinus nootkatensis is one of the Lupin species from which garden hybrids are derived. It was introduced into Europe in the 18th Century and now grows like a weed in northern Europe, festooning banks with colour in summer. In Iceland, it was introduced to try to stabilise soil, but, it has done so well there, that it’s now endangering native Icelandic plants.

© DY of jtdytravels; P1100177

Pyrola asarifolia  © DY of jtdytravels; P1100177

Another plant commonly found with the Alders are Wintergreens. This one, Pyrola asarifolia, or Pink Wintergreenis the largest of the Wintergreens in the Alaskan coastal forests. There may be 8 to 25  delightful bell or cup shaped flowers along a tall stem. These flowers seem to hang their heads demurely. Perhaps they are not sure what we might think of their secret! For these delicate flowers belong to a plant that is scientifically known as a semisaprophytic plant; it can make its own chlorophyl (hence the semi) but it lives mainly on dead plant and animal material. Saprophytic plants like these require the assistance of fungi to help breakdown the organic material. It’s a delightful but unusual plant!

Pyrola has been used in native medicine as a poultice for sores or swellings.

Lycopodium selago Fir Clubmoss © DY of jtdytravels; P1100203

Lycopodium selago © DY of jtdytravels; P1100203

Another plant used by the native peoples for medicinal purposes is the low growing Lycopodium selago, commonly called Fir Clubmoss or Mountain Clubmoss. It was used as a purgative, a “strong medicine”. It’s also reported to contain a chemical that may be effective against Alzeimer’s Disease. It seems that we still have so much to learn from plants!

Another interesting fact about club mosses is that their spore powder, known as “vegetable sulphur”, is very flammable and has been used to make fireworks and was even used in early flash photography.

The Club moss above is growing in amongst some other mosses. In general, however, many of the mosses and lichens don’t do very well in the leaf litter in the deep shade of Alders. They prefer to grow on the branches as epiphytes where they find some light.

Spruce Trees © JT of jtdytravels; P1130453

Emerging conifer forest © JT of jtdytravels; P1130453

The next stage in the colonisation process is the growth of conifers, especially Spruce and Hemlock. In this photo, Alders are in the lower right corner, while conifers have displaced them on the lakeside bank.  Young conifers may take 100 to 400 years before the Spruce and Hemlock forest, which is endemic to this area, becomes fully established.

Our time at Mendenhall was flying but we still just had time to visit the excellent “Discovery Centre”and take in the documentary made about this glacial area. The interpretative section of the centre was also very well done; I could have spent hours there. However, our time was almost up; the bus awaited our return.

As we walked back down towards the bus, the bank beside the footpath provided us with yet another opportunity to photograph flowers!  

Holodiscus sp. © DY of jtdytravels; P1130485

Aruncus dioicus © JT of jtdytravels; P1130485

This lovely plant is Aruncus dioicus (common name bride’s feathers).  It was growing on a moss covered bank of rocks which made a delightful back drop to my photo. It’s a hardy plant; there wasn’t much soil on this steep rocky bank.

P1100205

Holodiscus discolor and Ranunculus repens © DY of jtdytravels P1100205

Holodiscus discolor (Oceanspray) was growing on recently disturbed soil amongst a delightful swathe of Creeping Buttercup, Ranunculus repens. Note the reddish stems of the Oceanspray.  Another common name for this plant is ‘ironwood’, because of the hardness of those woody stems. Native peoples made these stems even harder by heating them over a fire before using them to make digging sticks, small spears, harpoon shafts, and arrows. Some native groups even used the stems for salmon barbequing sticks.They have also been made into knitting needles. Before the advent of nails, pegs made from the stems were used in construction projects.

As a medicine, some groups made an infusion of the brownish fruiting clusters to help stop diarrhoea. The infusion was also used as a blood tonic and to counteract measles and chickenpox.  Indeed, a particularly useful plant.

Epilobium latifolium © DY of jtdytravels; P1100211

Chamerion angustifolium © DY of jtdytravels; P1100211

On the same bank David found this very common roadside plant, a member of the Evening Primrose family, Chamerion angustifolium, formerly known as Epilobium angustifolium. It is known by the names of Tall Fireweed, Great Willowherb or Rosebay Willowherb. Is it any wonder we need the Latin names for plants; so many common names for one plant.

Unlike other types of Fireweed, this one has unbranched erect stems. The buds grow on tall red stemmed spikes. They burst into flower from the lowest buds first. Again, this plant looks delightful against a background of golden moss.

Locals in Alaska make a syrup from Fireweed and they also enjoy Fireweed honey. What they also know is that when Fireweed stops flowering, winter is upon them!

Yellow Daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130484

Yellow Daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130484

It always amazes to me that, almost anywhere you go in this world, at least one member of the daisy family, Asteraceae, will find a place to make it’s sunny presence felt. This is not a planted garden; it’s a natural bank of plants. They are always a welcome sight to me.

Bank of white daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130488

Bank of white daisies © JT of jtdytravels; P1130488

And just before I climbed on board the bus after a most enjoyable afternoon, I stopped to admire a bank of white daisies; how appropriate near a glacier!

Fly pollinating white daisy © JT of jtdytravels; P1130456

Fly pollinating white daisy © JT of jtdytravels; P1130456

And, of course, I couldn’t resist a closer look! Simple, very common and yet…

so stunningly beautiful.

Our plant hunting in Mendenhall might be over but there is plenty more to come!

It’s now time to get ready to board our home for the next week,

the small, but good ship, “Sea Lion”

Jennie and David

Thought for today:

“I go to nature to be soothed and healed

and to have my senses put into tune once more.

John Burrough (1837 – 1921)

American Naturalist

More of our travel posts can be found on

www.dymusings.com

and photos on

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

Read Full Post »

After our morning exploration of Juneau it was time to meet our fellow “explorers” and hop onto a tour bus to travel 19km (12ml) north along one of Juneau’s two major roads (in blue on the map). Our destination was the base of the Mendenhall Glacier, the only glacier we would be able to get to, in a fairly close up and personal way, on this trip to the Inside Passage area of Alaska.

Map of Juneau

Map of Juneau

Mendenhall Glacier, top centre on the map, on the northern side of Mendenhall Lake, is a glacier in retreat.  Early mention of the glacier came from Joseph Whidbey, master of George Vancouver’s ship HMS Discovery, who visited the area in 1794. He noted that most waterways here were unnavigable because of ice flows from glaciers.

HMS Discovery

HMS Discovery

 

Of course, shipping was so much different then…. no ice breaking hulls and only wind power, so exploring in amongst the islands of the Inside Passage would have been all but impossible for such a sailing ship. Boat parties were sent out to chart some of the coasts of some of the islands. However, that was all that was possible before Vancouver turned south again to return to England.

By 1888, when the famous naturalist John Muir came to explore in the area, the native peoples, the Tlingits, inhabited part of the valley left by the retreating glacier. Muir gave the glacier the name Auke (or Auk) in honour of that group of Tlingits known as the Auk Kwaan. But the name was changed in 1891 to honour an American physicist and meteorologist, Thomas Mendenhall, the Superintendent of the US Coast Guard and Geodetic survey.

The glacier has been monitored since 1942, so it is known that Mendenhall Lake is a modern day lake, created by the large amount of moraine pushed down while the glacier has been retreating rather quickly, (2.82km or 1.75 ml), since 1958.  It is thought that the glacier has retreated a total of 4km (2.5ml) since the 1500s. With warming temperatures it is expected to retreat further.

Top section of Mendenhall Lake  ©  JT  of  jtdutravels P1130478

Top section of Mendenhall Lake © JT of jtdutravels P1130478

Viewed from the “Discovery Centre”, it’s easy to see how the glacier melt has gradually formed the lake with piles of murrain. Much of that moraine is now covered with young trees. The sides of the glacier are still all but devoid of vegetation. The glacier itself vanishes into the distance for 19 kilometres (12ml) to where it joins the vast Juneau Icefield.

Juneau Icefield

Juneau Icefield

There are a couple of ways to enjoy the icefields from the air,

either by small plane or by helicopter.

Our group took the option of viewing the glacier from ground level.

Juneau Icefield from maps in the Park Centre.

Juneau Icefield from maps in the Park Centre.

At the Discovery Centre, a map shows the extent of the Juneau Icefield which covers 3,900 square kilometres (1,500 sq ml) and crosses the border between USA and Canada. Mendenhall (pin pointed by the small banner on the left) is just one of 40 major glaciers spawned by this Icefield. There are also about 100 smaller ones. All are in retreat except for the Taku Glacier, centre right, which filled its valley with so much glacial moraine that it has blocked its own waterway. It can no longer calve and has steadily been growing.

A piece of calved ice ©  Jt  of  jtdytravels; P1130466

A piece of calved ice © Jt of jtdytravels; P1130466

Calving happens when a chunk of ice breaks off the face of a glacier. This chunk of ice now floats in the lake. The men in the row boat give an indication of scale as does the next photo. Most chunks that we saw calving were much smaller than this one and are invisible in the longer distance.

Mendenhall Glacier ©  JT  of jtdytravels; P1130473

Mendenhall Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1130473

There were two paths to follow. One through the trees towards the waterfall and one down to the lake’s edge. David chose the former; I chose the latter.

David’s aim was to seek out some of the native plants of the area.

Mine was to take a closer look at the glacier.

Face of Mendenhall Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1130459

Mendenhall Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1130459

The face of a glacier is a truly magnificent, awe inspiring sight.

It makes one feel quite small.

Close up of face of Glacier ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130477

The face of the Glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1130477

The leading edge of the glacier is very dirty although the ice itself has a lovely blue tinge. The dirtiness is made up of earth and rocks carved out from the mountain sides by the moving glacier.

Closer look at the face of the glacier ©  JT  of  jtdytravels; P1130468

Closer look at the face of the glacier © JT of jtdytravels; P1130468

An even closer look, thanks to my 30 times camera, shows the great, blue chunks of ice that will eventually calve from the glacier, each one shrinking the total ice mass. What will be the future of this glacier?  Who can tell? How much does global warming effect them? There are so, so many questions we need to answer about the health of glaciers… and of our beautiful planet!

Colours of ice! ©  JT  of jtdytravels; P1130471

Colours of ice! © JT of jtdytravels; P1130471

From afar the iceberg looks white. But what is white?

This close up shows the many colours that an artist would need to use.

Ice caves at Mendenhall.

Ice caves at Mendenhall.

The beautiful blue of the ice is much more evident under the glacier inside the Mendenhall Ice Caves. I found this photo in a wonderful set of photos of these ice caves on the internet and will add the site below for those who wish to enjoy that aspect of the glacier. Going into that cave is certainly something I wouldn’t do, but I’m always grateful to those who do and who share their experience.

Our thought for the day comes from the great naturalist, John Muir, who urged us all to:

“Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile; climb a mountain or spend a week in a woods. Wash your spirit clean.”

This we hoped to do on this expedition into the wilderness of Alaska.

In our next post we’ll share a different aspect of our visit to Mendenhall Glacier…

 the native flora of the area, the Tongass National Forest.

Jennie and David

our other travel site is

www.dymusings.com

more travel photos are on our flickr site

www.flickr.com/photos/jtdytravels

The internet link to the site for photographs of the beauty of ice inside Mendenhall Glacier is

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/03/mendenhall-ice-caves_n_4374019.html

or

Ditch Your Responsibilities And Go Hike The Mendenhall Ice Caves

Read Full Post »