North! To A-las-ka! Part 2: Hubba-Hubba Hubbard Love

So we left Sitka in the early afternoon and slowly steamed our way north overnight towards the Hubbard Glacier. The next morning we got a special treat, for the day dawned warm and clear.
There she was, twenty miles ahead of us.

As we crept closer we started seeing high snowy mountains for the first time

Even from this distance the blue glacial ice was eerie

Who’s the joker who put on Celine Dion?


The mountains surrounding the bay were a mixture of snowy crags, glacial flow, waterfalls, trees trying to maintain a grip and thousand-foot gravel slides

And the bergs kept getting bigger as we crept in

On board Infinity we had Brent Nixon, who gave daily talks on the various wildlife we might encounter and who today was narrating our approach to Hubbard. One thing he pointed out to us were these cafe au lait colored plumes in the water

It’s called “glacial flour” and it is created by the weight of hundreds of feet of ice on the rock below. The pressure creates heat, which melts some of the ice and allows the glacier to ‘slide’ along, and the millions of tons of ice grind the rock surface into a talcum powder like substance, which flows along underneath the glacier and out eventually into the ocean. The powder is so fine that if you collected a glass of water from the bay with glacial flour in it it would take several days for it to settle out.
And still we crept closer. Now we could see where the glacier was advancing to close off Russel Fjord.

It last did that in 2002, and water rose to 45 feet above sea level behind the ice dam in the 40 mile long fjord before it broke; in 1986 the water rose to 80 feet above sea level before the dam broke loose with a tremendous volume of water.
The Hubbard is in fact advancing and they expect the chances are good that Russel Fjord will again be closed off.
The beautiful blue walls continued to rise before us, to some 300′ in height…and some 400′ below the water level as well

One goes to Hubbard not only for its beauty but also for its calving. ‘Calving’ is when gravity tears large pieces of the glacier off and they come crashing down with loud cracks and a smashing splashing roar

It takes some 400 years for the ice to travel from the origin of the glacier 75 miles away down to the sea, and its layers are slices of time

and then suddenly there’s another loud ‘crack’

The face of the Hubbard is something like six miles across where it meets the sea

and several other, much smaller, glaciers join it to dump into the bay

so it required careful ship handling as we closed to within a third of a mile of the Hubbard.
I can’t imagine what these mountains must be like in January

The face of the glacier at times so clearly echoes the mountains of its birth

The beauty, the power…it’s an over used phrase these days, but if you ever should need a definition for the word ‘awesome’ you need look no farther

5 Responses to “North! To A-las-ka! Part 2: Hubba-Hubba Hubbard Love”

  1. Loves it. Gorgeous snaps of the calving!

  2. nightfly says:

    That sounds incredible!

  3. Kate P says:

    Those sights are just unbelievable. Wow.

  4. Ave says:

    What beautiful sights and descriptions! Give us some more!

Image | WordPress Themes