Thursday, July 1, 2010

A Trip to Exit Glacier

Today we took a trip to Exit Glacier, eleven miles from our campsite. The first picture is of the glacier with Helen standing where the foot of the glacier was in 1998. The distance the glacier has retreated in twelve years is impressive.

This is the plaque beside Helen's spot.

There were many signs advising everyone to stay on the trail. We could see where new growth was starting to take root almost as soon as the glacier retreated.

We could not actually touch the glacier. Helen, here, is as close as one could reasonably get. It would be possible to hike around to the side and reach the glacier further up, but the way in front of us would surely invite a broken leg, or worse.

The picture below shows how the glacier appears to have an inner blue glow. It's a case where the ice absorbs all the colors in the light spectrum except the blue that you see.

Here is a picture with me in front giving a sense of size, the glacier, not me! The picture is deceiving because it was really immense.

As you come up the road toward Exit Glacier, you will see road marks with dates of the time when the glacier face was at that location. I'm a believer in global warming, but apparently it's been going on for a very long time. Posts are marked from the late 1800's until now, with dates like 1927, 1961, and so on. Yes, the glacier is retreating at a good pace, but is has been for the last 100 years or more. I really don't know if the Harding Ice Field, the birthplace of so many glaciers, is really in danger.

You can compare the Harding Ice Field to a large mountain lake with rivers flowing from it form several outlets. The Harding Ice Field gets fifty feet of snow each year, which compacts enough to eventually become the ice of the glacier. The great weight of the glacier causes the bottom to melt and allows the glacier to slide down the slopes.

Also in evidence all along the trails is evidence of moose. We recognize that fresh droppings look like almonds, later falling apart to look like sawdust. This is another place where we didn't actually SEE a moose, but we know they're around.

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