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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

ALASKA'S MAGNIFICENT GLACIER BAY



Just when we thought we’d seen everything, the Coral Princess cruised into Glacier Bay. A Park Ranger came aboard to give programs on the Bay and to introduce the cruisers to poet Robert Service, the man known as the Bard of the Yukon. I didn’t think I knew Robert Service’s poems—until I heard “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” so I’m sure many of you know Service’s work through that famous poem. BUT, until this trip, I would not have fully appreciated the truth in his poetry—so of course I bought a volume at one of the other sites we visited, and I share some lines with you from his poem, “The Call of the Wild.”

Have you gazed on naked grandeur
Where there’s nothing else to gaze on,
Set pieces and drop-curtain scenes galore,
Big mountains heaved to heaven,
Which the blinding sunsets blazon,
Black canyons where the rapids rip and roar?
Have you swept the visioned valley
With the green stream streaking through it,
Searched the Vastness for a something you have lost?
Have you strung your soul to silence?
Then for God’s sake go and do it;
Hear the challenge, learn the lesson, pay the cost.

On this trip, we had an inkling of what inspiring sights and challenges Service found in the Yukon.

As the ship glides into Glacier Bay, we experience some of those marvelous sights. Pilots board our ship to guide us around the Bay. Glacier Bay is a protected site; in fact, September 1, 2009 was the first time that year when ships were allowed in to see the Johns Hopkins Glacier because baby harbor seals need the time to grow and be weaned. When the seals need their privacy, ships are barred. We are there on September 12.

It’s difficult to imagine the gigantic size of these glaciers, but suffice it to say, some of my photos of the Johns Hopkins Glacier were taken from approximately five miles out. The Johns Hopkins Glacier is a tidewater glacier, so called because the glacier reaches the ocean.
Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay
If you look closely, you will see ice falling from the glacier. That is called calving.

Other photos I share with you are of the Grand Pacific Glacier, formed 10,000 years ago, and the Margerie Glacier. The Grand Pacific Glacier is the widest, at two miles, of the tidewater glaciers. The Margerie Glacier is 250 feet high. Compare this natural wonder to the Statue of Liberty which is 307 feet high. The Margerie Glacier is also 100 feet below the surface, runs 21 miles back, and is about one mile across. Impressive, huh?

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Even looking into the water, chunks of ice float around and as the light hits them, I feel as if I’m looking at Nature’s kaleidoscope. It’s beyond beautiful. Actually, these chunks are icebergs, with 90% under water, so ships are very wary of what looks like harmless hunks of beauty.

Seabirds are everywhere, and they use the floating ice as perches.
Glacier Bay

This is sunset on Glacier Bay. John Keats said it best, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.”
Sunset on Glacier Bay


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