Glacier Bay Ruggedness

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Of the many attractions in Alaska, the area surrounding Glacier Bay in southeastern Alaska has to be one of the most beautiful. The area includes the national park of the same name along with numerous glaciers and mountains. When sailing the Inside Passage, there are mountains towering above the bay on every side. As a photographer, I have a habit of shooting with a pretty wide eye in trying to capture the overall scene that I am experiencing. I sometimes forget that I should should capture tighter shots that show the details within the scene. In this instance, I remembered to zoom in to capture the ruggedness of the mountains above Glacier Bay.

Ice Cave

Lamplugh Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska is a World Heritage Site with 3.3 million acres of spectacular sights and wildlife, including 11 glaciers of which 8 can be seen from the bay. It is a very remote and rugged park as there are no roads that lead to it. The only way to get to Glacier Bay is by either boat or plane. There is only one lodge within the park (Glacier Bay Lodge) and there are no campsites. Campers can stay in the park in almost any area that they want. This past July, we spent almost a full day cruising the bay, taking in it's glaciers. One of the coolest things we saw was this ice cave in the Lamplugh Glacier. The cave was huge, towering about 30 feet at it's highest point, and we had just missed some kayakers that left the cave moments before. The most interesting thing about the cave was that it was temporary. The National Park Forest Ranger told us that it didn't exist several weeks prior to our arrival and that it would likely collapse in the near future.

Glacier Approach

Margerie Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

After sailing through the Icy Straits, as described in a previous post, we entered into Glacier Bay en-route to the Margerie Glacier. Along the way, we passed wonderful scenery and wildlife, including hump-back whales, seals and eagles. Glacier Bay is a pretty amazing place and even more amazing is that it was a wall of ice in 1791 when explored by George Vancouver. The ice has retreated 65 miles since then leaving 16 major tidewater glaciers (a glacier which generates sufficient snow to flow out from the mountains to the sea). As we approached Margerie Glacier, it was hard to believe the it has a total height of 350 feet, of which 250 feet rises above the water level. It is one of the most active glaciers in the park with respect to calving where chunks of the glacier break off of the forward ice wall into the water with a resounding roar. This is probably the main reason why most cruise ships visit this particular glacier. As can be seen in the photo, the glacier is surrounded by rugged mountains where pieces of the mountains collect on the glacier making it look "dirty". Margerie Glacier has tones of blue color as the ice crystals in the glacier absorb light of longer wavelengths (i.e. red) leaving the blue color.