Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Glenn Highway and Matanuska Glacier - late September

We drove north from our valley on the Glenn Highway. As you can see, the fall colors were gorgeous!!!!. I could NOT stop taking pictures. We stopped to look at the river below and another couple who had stopped to enjoy the view took our picture for us.

We drove about an hour and got our first look at the Matanuska Glacier.

We spent about an hour and a half walking on the glacier. It was so peaceful, and not really that cold (since the sun was shining). But---glaciers melt from below - just like a pile of snow in a parking lot. Occasionally we would be headed in one direction and could hear the water either trickling or rushing underneath the ice near us. Needless to say, we turned and walked in a different direction.
Glaciers look white from afar, but when you get up close you can see the dirt and ground up rock in the snow and ice. The ground rock is called "glacier dust". When it is wet, it is about like wet talcum powder. When it is dry, it blows EVERYWHERE!

As you walk out to the glacier you must follow the path marked by the cones. IT looks like you are walking on dirt. It is actually snow and ice covered by the glacier dust. The ice is melting from beneath, so you don't want to be standing on a ledge that will collapse!

The ice looks blue because it is especially dense. You will often see this blue colored ice when a glacier calves into the ocean too. It is super cold ice.