By Expedition Guide Dai Mar Tamarack
A visit to Southeast Alaska isn’t fully complete without an encounter with one of thousands of glaciers snaking their way down mountains, through valleys, and sometimes all the way to the ocean. Guests of the Safari Quest this week experienced glaciers by flying, skiffing, kayaking, and even walking. Each experience was different, and for the photographers on board, each brought their own challenges and rewards. The impossibly blue ice against the backdrop of thousands of green trees covering the mountainsides is a scene that our guests will not soon forget.
When asked what their favorite experience was of the week, our guests passed the whale, bear, moose, sea lion, and otter encounters. They didn’t choose the bushwhacking through mossy old growth forest and pristine wilderness areas, they didn’t choose the icy polar plunge...it was the blue glacial ice that got them. Some brought up the giant shooter at the face of the glacier. Shooters are calvings, or pieces of the glacier that break off, then come shooting up from the submerged underwater face of the glacier. This one was about the size of an apartment building. Other guests chose the adventure skiff ride up a glacial outflow river where we ended up in a beautiful lake surrounded by giant icebergs broken off from a quickly receding glacier. Others decided it was our final day, walking and climbing on glacial ice that was stranded on the shoreline in the LeConte Bay ice garden.
When I’m in Hawaii during the winter and I close my eyes to think about Alaska, it is the glaciers that pop into mind, which only makes it harder when I see how much they have receded each year I return to Alaska. Places like Glacier National Park and Kilimanjaro will soon be glacier-free. So if you have ever thought about experiencing glaciers, I would suggest doing it while they are still here.