Tag Archives: glacier

Alaska – Glacier Bay

After two epic days in port, we spent Wednesday cruising in Glacier Bay. We had seen Mendenhall Glacier at what seemed like fairly close up, but the scale and impressiveness of the glaciers we visited in Glacier Bay was no comparison. All of the glaciers we visited in Glacier Bay are tidewater glaciers – which means that they are fed by enough snow in the mountains to flow out of the mountains and down to the sea.

Our first glacier of the day was Lamplugh Glacier, which is about ¾ mile wide, 150 to 160 feet high at the face, 10 to 40 feet deep at the waterline, and over 16 miles long. While you hear about about global warming and glaciers receding, Lamplugh has been stable for the last 50+ years, and has actually advanced very slightly.

Jon and I headed off to our workout class, so we actually didn’t get to see the second glacier of the day, Johns Hopkins Glacier. Johns Hopkins Glacier continues to advance with Gilman Glacier as a single ice front. The glacier is about 1-mile wide, 250 feet high at the terminus, and 200 feet deep at the water line. It is formed from numerous tributary glaciers, many of which extend 12 or more miles into the surrounding peaks. It calves such volumes of ice that it is seldom possible for larger boats to approach its ice cliffs closer than about two miles.

We were able to rejoin Tim, Ruth and David on the bow in time to see Margerie Glacier, which was the most impressive of the glaciers we saw (in my opinion). Margerie is about 1-mile wide, with an ice face that is about 250 feet high above the waterline, but with its base about 100 feet below sea level. It’s about 21 miles long. The ice flows about 6 feet per day. It has been advancing about 30 feet per year for the past couple of decades. We even got to see some calving, which was pretty cool!

In addition to the epic sights of the glaciers themselves, we also saw a good amount of wildlife – some whales spouting, and at Margerie we saw seals and a bald eagle hanging out on the ice flow. We even saw more mountain goats along the hillside as we cruised!

One of the things that really jumped out at me was just how COLD it was by the glaciers. Which makes logical sense, but for some reason I wasn’t expecting the bitter cold after how mild and nice our first few days had been.

We were watching the glaciers until approximately 1:30 PM, then we relaxed and napped the rest of the afternoon. Tonight was our second and final gala night. We didn’t take too many pictures tonight, but did catch a few!

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Alaska Cruise – Juneau

On Monday we approached our first port – Juneau. As we got closer, the weather was crisp, the sky was blue and we were in whale watching territory!

Unfortunately, as we arrived in Juneau at 1 PM the weather took a darker and damper turn. But we were expecting it – the forecast had been calling for rain for weeks so it was no surprise and we were ready with our rain jackets and ponchos!

Today we were heading to Mendenhall Glacier, which is well known since it’s so easily accessible. The glacier itself is about 13 miles long, and is retreating – in fact the entire Mendenhall Lake area was previously the glacier itself back in it’s heyday. Although we got rained on a bit, it really wasn’t bad at all.

Next to the glacier is Nugget Falls – which is caused by snow melt from Nugget Glacier, which is no longer visible from where we were – but it’s back there somewhere. The waterfall was running quite full while we were there. It was very impressive, it’s actually 377 feet tall but falls in two tiers of 99 feet and 278 feet. I think we could only see the bottom tier.

We wanted to explore a little bit more before heading into town, so David, Jon and I checked out a bit of a different trail. The coolest part was the moss covered trees, and it was neat to get a different view of the lake and glacier. Had it been later in the season, this was also an area where we may have seen salmon swimming!

After departing Mendenhall Glacier, we headed back into Juneau to walk around town and bit and check out the shops. It was still pretty chilly and damp so we didn’t explore too long, but we did get a good taste for the town and got to see some of the local artwork, which I love!

We were back on the ship well before we left port (10 PM) and actually had a reasonably early dinner. Early enough to finish in time for an epic sunset (at 9 PM!!) before we headed over to the evenings comedy show… although “Pip” left a bit to be desired… A magical end to our first true day exploring Alaska.