Alaskan Cruise Day 6 – Glacier Bay National Park (At Sea)

September 5, 2016

This was the day that I was really looking forward to. Even though all the days had been amazing in their own right, this was it. Our first National Park in Alaska.  You can only reach it by boat or plane and only two commercial boats are allowed inside the strait during the summer.Glacier Bay National Park, which is also a United Nations biosphere reserve and a world heritage site.  Just 250 years ago it was just glacier and no bay, now there is a bay with around a dozen smaller tidewater glaciers.  The lucky one for us: Margerie Glacier.

In the early hours of the day we entered Icy Strait and into the Sitakaday Narrows.  We headed up Glacier Bay and cruised through the waters of the National Park.  We ended at Tarr Inlet and in front of Margerie Glacier. We had to remember everything we learned from Mark Harris about the glaciers.  He said that hearing a glacier calf would be the most intense, deep sound we had ever heard.

Around 10 a.m. we reached the glacier. As luck would have it the ship spent most of it’s time with our room facing the glacier. It was freezing out there but we didn’t move the entire time we were there.  And the naturalist was right, calfing was the coolest thing to witness and hear.

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Calving is when chunks of ice from the glacier fall to the waters below. It happens a couple times every hour and the noise is so thunderous that you would think a canon went off.

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The colors were amazing. The blue was so bright and clear it seemed like it should be fake. The short answer on why it’s this color: “When light hits highly compacted glacier ice, long wavelength colors (reds) are absorbed, while short wavelength colors (blues) reflect back through the ice.”

Margerie Glacier is about one mile wide, with an ice face of about 250 ft high above the waterline and a base about 100 ft below sea level.

We never thought we would get to this National Park.  Part of our travels was to get to as many as possible. This is one that we gladly add to our list. The only negative; it peaks our interest for more in Alaska and we don’t have the time on this trip.

You will be truly inspired.  Take a moment to slow down, breath and enjoy what nature provides.

 

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