Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Matanuska Glacier

Said goodbye to the Anchorage Guest House. On our way out met a Sierra Club group going on a 9 day kayaking trip. One lady was a prof. at Wright State. Can’t escape Ohio anywhere! These folks in the picture are from NY so Scott had a little taste of home as well.

Hiked Matanuska Glacier in Chugach State Park. What an experience! Best part, once again, the kids’ reactions – especially Elliot’s. Can’t say how many times he said, “This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen! Mom, is this the most beautiful place you’ve ever seen?” (I'd have to say it was one of them!) He was all enthusiasm. Michael was all about giving me and the guide a heart attack as he would fail to walk the path he was supposed to, or start to use his ice trekking pole as a weapon! He enjoyed himself though! Our guide Chris was great with both the boys. Once again, unable to escape Ohio as both Chris and the trekking group before us were Ohioans.

Teacher Talk: This is an ice cone. Ice cones form when the silt and rock covering a particular area of ice does not erode, but that around it does. Therefore, the ice under the silt/rock doesn’t melt and sticks out like a cone (not sure why that shape).

This is a piece of the ice cone. The air bubbles trapped here predate the industrial revolution. Clean and tasty!

This is a table rock – a medium to large sized rock that sits angled over an ice cone. As the sun follows its path in the sky it melts all areas of the ice except a little area to the north (the part shaded by the rock). Gradually this causes a rock that was laying flat to slope to the south. It’s pretty cool to see a bunch of these all facing the same direction.

Much of the glacier has a “swiss cheese” appearance with lots of small holes. These form where small dark colored rocks have warmed from the sun thereby causing the ice beneath to melt.

Chris is throwing a rock into a glacial moulin – a hole through which water drains back into a glacier then enters a network of channels within and beneath the glacier. The water eventually empties at vents. If a glacial lake (a lake of meltwater on the surface of a glacier) sits over a plugged moulin, the lake can disappear very rapidly if the moulin becomes unplugged.

Our guide told us about a child who fell into one of these several years back and has never been found. Very sad and very scary!

This is wild sweet pea. Chris says it's the plant that killed Chris McCandless (of Into the Wild). Moose love it, but it is poisonous to people. It was growing all over the glacier’s terminal moraine.

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