Through some computer razzle-dazzle, I was able to recover a bunch of the lost photos from our trip to Exit Glacier. Hoo Hoo!
First, a little Glacier 101:
I thought glaciers were these ponderous beasts that lay over great expanses of land gradually moving down the sides of mountains and grinding valleys out as they move. Whoa! I was right!
What I didn’t know is that there are a bazillion glaciers in the world, not just a few mammoths. Seemed like every stinkin’ mountain in Alaska had a glacier sliding down the side – looking all blue and majestic. The key to the whole thing is “Ice Fields” (no relation to W.C.). A good example is the Harding Ice Field that feeds Exit Glacier and a bunch of others.
See, the tops of these mountains this far north get up to 70 FEET of snow each year. And it doesn’t melt up there even in the summer. The weight of the snow continuously compacts and becomes incredibly dense. (That’s why they are blue – the dense ice absorbs all but the highest frequency of light which is blue. Write that down.)
The glaciers are like run-off from an overflowing bowl. Really, really slow run-offs. Most move at the rate of 2 feet per day. When they reach the bottom, or terminus, that’s where the melting happens and where all that bracingly cold, mountain water comes from in those never-ending streams all through the north.
On the way down, they are reducing these massive solid rock mountains into silt and carving out the valleys that you see between them. Depending on the historical colder or warmer temps in the world (ice-age vs Al Gore), the glaciers can extend further out from the mountains or recede back into the valleys. Currently, they are inconveniently truthfully retreating.
Exit Glacier was a great place to get up close to the ice and see how it related to the mountain. Here’s a pic from off in the distance:
Here’s a pic of the toe or terminus of the glacier:
Here’s a pic of a couple of rocks at the glacier:
The sheer size and power of the glacier is really impressive at close quarters:
All in all, it was a great stop on the way out of the Kenai Peninsula. It was a relatively short walk up to the glacier (1.5 miles each way) and they did their best to make it easy on old people like Donna. Still – there was some vertical hiking involved. We got a kick out of the chubby weekend warrior who was pushing his two kids (maybe 5 – 6 years old) to hurry along up the mountain. We know that in just a little while, the doofus would be carrying two kids and sweatin’ like the oldies. Karma, baby!
I’m posting a lot more pics in a photo album for July 6. Check ’em out.