Flutterby™! : Le Conte

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Le Conte

2005-08-28 19:40:59.225305+00 by Dan Lyke 2 comments

Two things struck me on our trip over to Le Conte glacier, which was the first time I'd really seen icebergs in the wild: just how blue they are, and how much variation and cool beauty there is to them. As we were coming back, having seen all of these icebergs on the way in, I was on the back of the boat blowing through bytes with abandon and a member of the family who rode with us was shooting film, and trying to ration herself, and still taking pictures.

The ice ranged from the fairly flat color to the transparent, including one really cool transparent one that was floating in such a way that when the waves passed through it it flickered light and dark colors, the shapes, colors and textures were really really cool:

Even from a few miles away, glaciers are awesome. They don't form unless there are a thousand feet of ice, and the fjord here is roughly 800 feet deep, so the initial face is two or three hundred feet high, and this one is coming down a particularly steep section, so there's quite a bit of slope above that.

From a mile or so away it's still hard to get a sense of scale, but we started to become aware of the sounds. This one moves over 35 feet a day, so sitting there for long enough we started to see things moving, chunks breaking off the face and such. The really spectacular ones are supposedly the large chunks which break off in that 800 feet underwater and surface, something we weren't directly aware of, but...

... up close the scale of the thing started to hit home. We'd also had some question over how close to the face we could get, beyond the usual hazards, icebergs which suddenly flip, calving and the resulting waves, that sort of thing, the tide and wind had come together to cause a thick ice flow between a mile and half a mile out from the glacier face. Barry threaded us in through this, but as we sat looking at the awesome face the ice closed in, and going back out was very slow.

One of the things that further cemented our belief that we chose the right way to visit the area was that we passed this cruise ship (a very small one, for those of you not familiar with such things) in the inlet, and later saw the passengers from that boat huddled together in life jackets and survival gear on their trip in to see the glacier. Yeah, I'm quite happy that we were eating smoked salmon and drinking tea; there's no reason to leave civilization for the scenery...

And while the glacier may be the major thing to see, it's not the only thing. It is, however, the source of much of the real coolness in the area. There's lots of water flowing down from the ice fields up in the mountains, and the valley was created by glacier, and you can still see the results of that.

Those last few shots show a really cool waterfall that appeared as we came around a bend, the way that different portions of it were visible as we came by were really cool.

And the ice has a really neat fracture pattern to it, this piece was destined for a drink, but you'll notice that it doesn't split in straight lines the way that ice in your freezer does, it breaks in these cool rounded bumpy patterns.

[ related topics: Photography Travel Boats Dan & Charlene's 2005 Alaska Trip Alaska ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2005-08-28 23:05:14.596683+00 by: Dave Goodman [edit history]

Beautiful! Can I put one of these pics in my blog? Thanks.

#Comment Re: made: 2005-08-29 05:33:34.128323+00 by: Dan Lyke

Sure! Credit appreciated, but go ahead!