Have I mentioned that we love mountains? I could just take picture after picture of the gorgeous mountain surroundings, along with the sea around us. Many of the mountains were covered with glacial ice, but these were green. God really did a bang-up job in Alaska. And such friendly neighbors!
Late morning on Saturday we started to see the Hubbard glacier in front of us. The Hubbard glacier is about 400 feet tall, more than 15 miles wide and extends back 75 miles or so through several mountain valleys. The ice at the base of the glacier is estimated to be about 400 years old. By early afternoon, the ship was about half a mile from the glacier, the legal limit. Hubbard glacier is one of very few that are stable or advancing. We stood near the bow in windy 70 degree weather and watched a spectacular calving event, large chunks of the glacier ice breaking loose with a sound like thunder and falling into the sea, leaving a huge cloud of ice and sea spray behind.
Those tiny chunks of ice in the water? Not really so small when you compare the people on the forward deck below us to them. And remember, that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Our cruise officers said this was the best weather and the best calving event of the season so far. No picture from my little camera or phone can do it justice. The very dense glacier ice absorbs all the colors of the spectrum except blue, so that is what you see on the wide glacier wall.
There are estimated to be 100,000 glaciers in Alaska, 616 of which are named. Most of the hundreds of glaciers in Alaska are retreating, which gives them a different appearance from the Hubbard. Two other smaller glaciers come in from valleys to the side but neither are as pretty. Glacial silt almost completely covers the edge of one and forms a ridge where the two meet.
We came to Alaska prepared for cold and rain, but after we left Anchorage, we saw mostly warm, sunny days and while we carried rain jackets on our shore outings, we didn’t have to use them.