Epic Glacier Day

I keep a little journal and I thought you might like to see what I wrote about. I titled it Epic Glacier Day

May 26 – 0544  Epic Glacier Day:

Journalwoke up in front of Reid Glacier.

Actually, Epic Glacier Day (EGD) really started the day before when we dropped anchor and spent several hours ashore at Reid glacier’s snout taking pictures as part of our photography workshop cruise. EGD started by waking up anchored face to face with a massive glacier. As I prepared coffee and breakfast, I occasionally walked outside to stare at the glacier and to listen to the sounds of the glacier’s rushing meltwater streams and waterfalls. The water sounds would occasionally be interrupted by the calls of some of my favorite birds – black oystercatchers. Although small bits of ice floated in the inlet, this glacier no longer calves big icebergs into the water. It has retreated to rest on a mudflat, and high tides now only kiss Reid’s wide icy snout.

 

went to Johns Hopkins then Margerie

Small Cruise Ship David B at Reid Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska
David B at anchor in front of Reid Glacier.

We made a stop at Lamplough Glacier, which sits like a watchdog to the entrance of Johns Hopkins Inlet. The sky had cleared to a bright blue. We paid our respects to Lamplough and entered Johns Hopkins Inlet for a view of Johns Hopkins Glacier as it spilled into the inlet from the impossibly high and jagged Fairweather Mountains. After witnessing an enormous avalanche spill onto the glacier, we turned to continue EGD with our fourth and fifth glaciers – Margerie and the Grand Pacific.

spent a couple hours at Margerie in the skiff

Johns Hopkins Inlet and Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska
Johns Hopkins Glacier and Mountains of the Fairweather Range

We anchored in Tarr Inlet about a mile away from Margerie. It had recently been active. Small bergs and brash ice floated past our anchorage. Hundreds of black-legged kittiwakes were nesting about a half-mile away. Margerie glacier is beautifully showy with the whitest ice and actively calving. The Grand Pacific seems shy and more sedentary. It’s covered in a blanket of dirt and rock, and seldom calves. It seems content to let Margerie have all the attention.

We lowered the skiff for the best part of EGD — a ride to the face of an active tidewater glacier.

 

a humpback surfaced next to the David B at anchor

Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay Alaska
Margerie Glacier

Not long after we got the skiff in the water a humpback whale entered Tarr Inlet. I surfaced twice nearby the David B, and one of the surfacings was really close to the skiff.

-6-10 sea otters on icebergs

We kept our cameras and our focus on Margerie. We waited to capture the moment that a tower of ice would fall into the water. We made bets on where ice would fall from, and we held hopes that a big one would let loose.

While watching the glacier, a group of sea otters swam along the floating ice, and an eagle landed on the great face of the glacier. No visible part of Margerie was left unphotographed. Every peak, every icy spire, every kittiwake, and every iceberg was part of this magical landscape. I felt the need to absorb it all. To capture every sight, every sound, every emotion. To hold on to this moment for as long as possible. I wanted

Small cruise ship in Glacier Bay's Tarr Inlet
David B anchored in Tarr Inlet with Margerie Glacier and the Grand Pacific Glacier.

to wrap it all up, take it home, and share it with anyone who needed a good dose of Mother Nature.

 

 

I didn’t write anymore but we remained anchored in Tarr Inlet that night. I remember that from time-to-time we could hear the boom of ice calving off Margerie, the sounds of the kittiwake colony, and the silence of nature. Magnificent mountains surrounded us. The sun dipped behind the peaks, and again another boom and more ice would be spilled.

It was the perfect Epic Glacier Day.                                                                                      

-Christine

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