As impressive as this glacier is, it certainly has a dirty side.
Littered with centuries of dirt, stones and rock that it has calved out of the valley, the glacier shows its dirty face for the entire world to see. The dirt and rocks provide a different, and interesting, view of the jagged edges and searcs before they fall into the ocean and meet their maker.
While cruising the waters around Composite Island I spotted that familiar plume rising from the tepid waters of Glacier Bay. A pod of whales had decided to come and have a look at the brilliant whiteness and magnitude of the Sea Princess.
The Whales came incredibly close to the ship which gave us a bird’s eye view of these beautiful creatures as they emerged from the water to give us an impreccive sight before they slipped below the smooth blue waters of the bay.
As I mentioned earlier, the sudden and dramatic collapse of these large seracs, without warning, and the resulting enormous splash and accompanying “booms” as they hit the water, is one of the many attractions that bring the cruise ships to this destination.
We were standing on the deck of the Sea Princess for approx 45 minutes before our first large serac decided to depart the safety of the glacier and take the final step in its life. A huge crack heralded the event, the falling ice caught my eye and the thunderous snap as the ice hit the water confirmed the event!
What an amazing day!
A serac sits atop just about every glacier in the world. It is a block, or sheer column, of compacted ice that has formed by the ever present shifting of the ice and the pressure that it caused. Intersecting crevasses are caused and the glacier begins to rip apart and buckle at the top.
Although they appear small, due to the size of the glacier, the seracs can be as large as houses and are extremely dangerous to vessels that approach too close to the face of tidal glaciers.
The collapse of these large seracs, without warning, and the resulting enormous splash and accompanying “booms” as they hit the water, is one of the many attractions that bring the cruise ships to this destination.
To think that it has taken the ice in excess of 200 years to inch it way, compacted and under immense pressure, to eventually snap off the face and come thundering into the frigid waters below with a crack and an ear piercing thunder is amazing.
I felt that I was watching the passage of time before my eyes and I tried to imagine what was happening in the world when that section of glacier was falling a snow. One thing I did know, the country that I am from, Australia, was just being settled and the inhabitants were living in bark huts at the shores of Botany Bay!
I was awe struck with the grandeur of these two towering masses of ice that appeared to rise sharply from the waters of Tarr Inlet. In fact, the face of the Margerie glacier rises from 120 feet below the water’s surface and lives large at a height of almost 300 feet above it!
The weather, yet again, was perfect and Anne & I were totally impressed with Glacier Bay National park.
Glacier Bay is certainly a uniquely special and magnificent place. The isolation is imposing, the cold bites you and the beauty of the scenery captivates you.
Through the absence of roads and walking trails, and the restriction of the number of vessels that are allowed to plough the Glacier Bay National park, it is a truly rewarding experience to see this special part of the world.
Midway through the day, while the Sun was high in the sky, the Sea Princess pulled alongside the magnificent faces of the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers.
The Grand Pacific Glacier is a rather barren and uninspiring glacier that sits atop the Tarr Inlet. In fact, it is like the ugly duckling of the Glacier family and its existence is made worse considering it lives right “next door” to the rather impressive Margerie Glacier.
Although it is barren, and it has receded dramatically, you can an excellent perspective on the life of a glacier. This is due to the fact that you can now see where the glacier once covered and the track that it had calved on its relentless pursuit of joining the ocean.
Johns Hopkins Glacier is a 12-mile-long (19 km) glacier that sits at the end of Johns Hopkins Inlet in Glacier Bay National Park. Although many of the glaciers are retreating, the Johns Hopkins Glacier has actually been advancing since 1929.
Our ship sailed into the Johns Hopkins inlet and we sat approx. 3 miles off the glaciers ice face for approx 30 minutes. During this time large chunks of ice sheered off the face with a loud crack and just after you witness the plume of white water rising from the tidal waters at the base of her bulk you literally felt the loud boom of the ice slapping the water.
The Sea Princess continued to heighten our senses as it sailed past the Bradley Icefield, located atop Mt Hood. As we neared Russell Island the Reid inlet came into view and we got the very first view of a glacier for the day.
The sun was still low in the sky and the blue skies had a smattering of light cloud that was preventing the sun from displaying the blue ice of the glacier, but the scenery was stunning and the camera shutters were working overtime.
Reid Glacier was named after Harry Fielding Reid, an American Geophysicist. (A descendant of Betty Washington Lewis, sister of the first US President.)
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