On my recent trip to the Rockies I expected to see quite a few glaciers in the area around Lake Louise and along the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper. However, nothing prepared me for the scale and magnificence of the icefield of Glacier Bay, Alaska.
The icefield around Glacier Bay is designated wilderness mostly because there is no way that a human being can build any sort of infrastructure over the millions of acres of shifting, corrugated ice. 250 years ago the entire bay was a single glacier but now it has retreated so there are only 2,055 square miles of glacier with 50 named glacers. Seven of these are tidewater glaciers which calve walls of ice into the sea. Access to the park is limited to protect the environment but I was fortunate enough to be on one of the cruise ships that had a licence to enter.
As soon as the cruise started I began to appreciate how fortunate I was to be allowed to see Glacier Bay and my excitement rose exponentially with each passing day. I woke up on Friday with a real sense of anticipation and looked out onto the balcony. Rain and very low cloud! Oh no! The cloud was resting just above the sea and it was almost a complete grey out. Fortunately it lifted and so I was able to start my exploration.
I layered up and covered myself in waterproofs and strode out on deck. I'd travelled all this way and I wasn't going to miss a single second. It was without doubt a day I shall never forget and my photographs had no chance of demonstrating the grandeur and scale of the bay. However, I have tried to capture some of the essence and mood of what I saw.
My enduring memories are of the sheer scale of the glaciers and the blueness of the ice; the cracking of ice and the sight of walls of ice calving off the glacier; the cloud and ethereal feel of the bay. And joy! It was truly joyeous be part of such a spectacular wilderness.