Reid Inlet, Glacier Bay. July 4, 2011.
18 July 2011 | posted at Sitka
Photo: wildflowers at Reid Inlet.
When I give talks about Southeast Alaska to promote my book, Glaciers, Bears and Totems, I like to say that Reid Inlet is the best place to see plant succession underway because you can stand at the head of the inlet next to the glacier on barren rock, then walk away past pioneer plants of Dryas and dwarf fireweed and through alder patches to willow near the mouth of the Inlet. You can see about a hundred years of plant succession in a few miles. But I didn’t expect to see a change in only four years.
In 2007, when we went ashore on the old terminal moraine near the inlet’s mouth, we found alder, willows and grasses. This year we were astonished to see a whole field of paintbrush: red, orange and yellow. According to the plant book I have on board the variety of color is probably due to hybrids between red paintbrush and Unalaska paint brush. It’s worth a trip to shore just to see them.