Thursday, September 22, 2011

Glacier Bay, Again

Thanks to the folks who commented on the previous post! That part of the trip was absolutely amazing, but it was only one day of many such. I'm hoping there'll be fodder for jacquard weaving among my and DH's photos :-)

Anybody on the ship that didn't get good photos had only themselves to blame. This was one of Lindblad/NatGeo's Photo Expeditions. We had a NatGeo photographer on board (Ralph Lee Hopkins) as well as two photo instructors (CT Ticknor and Michael Nolan). There were photo-educational opportunities the whole trip, from tutorials on how to fully use all your little Point & Shoot camera's capabilities, to tips for the professional and nearly-professional passengers carrying many thousands of dollars of top-end photo gear. Not only that, but the three naturalists on board are excellent photographers, too.

An interesting fact about Glacier Bay: just over 200 years ago, it didn't exist. In 1680, there was a long valley, full of trees and wild game, with glaciers at the uphill end. Where the valley met the sea, there was a village of the Hoonah tribe of the Tlinglit people. The glacier far up the valley began surging down the valley, up to 50 feet per day, demolishing the forest, and finally the village. The Hoona left in their cedar-log canoes, never to return. They established a new village on Chichagof Island nearby. By 1750, the glacier extended quite far into the channel.

When John Muir traveled in the region in 1879, the glacier had retreated, but it had carved a much deeper valley that was completely submerged in seawater.A ll of this in what is the geological equivalent of a blink of an eye.

Today, the only people who live within the park are the staff of the Park Headquarters and the Glacier Bay Lodge, most of whose full-time residences are in the town of Gustavus, just outside the park. The Hoonah people still mourn their ancestral home. For our day in Glacier Bay, we had a Park Ranger and a representative of the Hoonah aboard to teach about the natural history and the cultural history of the park.

Many of the islands within Glacier Bay are home to a wide variety of sea birds and hundreds of Steller sea lions. South Marble Island (foreground, with the Fairweather Mountains in the distance) is an example:

We were lucky to see the Fairweathers at all; usually, they're covered in clouds. Another view of the mountains, later in the afternoon:


Laura Fry said...

Wow - that last photo is really something! A trip of a lifetime.

Margreet said...

Wow, as Laura said, a trip of a lifetime. Thanks for sharing. Very interesting to read and see!

neki desu said...

interesting history behind all that beauty!