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A Land of Ice

11-28-2016

Ellie Bryant, Expedition Leader, Wilderness Explorer

Sitting in Glacier Bay National Park, we pushed off from the Wilderness Explorer to explore Lamplugh Glacier. Our kayak began just as the fog was lifted off of the mountains, revealing the vast and beautiful landscape surrounding us.

Ship near glacier. Photo by David Ludwin

As we paddled out we heard pigeon guillemots alarm calls as they hustled to their nests on the cliff sides. Overhead, an eagle circled and then landed back on her nest.

Kayaking in Alaska

The first chill of glacial air hit us as we rounded the point and exposed ourselves to the far right side of the glacier. A glacial stream that poured out of the underside of the massive ice block chilled us at once.

My group of kayakers could see the glacial silt being buffeted around our hulls as we pressed forward towards the blindingly white blob. One of the most amazing things about Lamplugh is that it’s a glacier in its last stages, and therefore is collapsing in on itself.

This means that we hear lots of cracking, popping, and see small calving pretty regularly. As my group sat 1/4 mile off the face, a large chunk ripped off with pop like a shotgun and slammed into the low-tide mud at the foot of the glacier with a hollow thud.

Glacier Calving Alaska

We had the time to sit and watch the creaking, sliding and calving mess for over an hour. By the time we turned our kayaks back to the mothership, we could see towards the back of John Hopkins Inlet and the seven hanging glaciers surrounding us.

John Hopkins Inlet Alaska

We were truly in a land of ice. You could see the history of the place written in the faces of the rocks.



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