Voyages North

22 September 2017 | Posted in Seattle
08 September 2017 | Posted at Spencer Spit, San Juan Islands
18 August 2017 | Posted at Spencer Spit, San Juan Islands
17 August 2017 | Olympia
22 August 2016 | posted at Prideaux Haven, Desolation Sound
29 July 2016 | Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound
29 July 2016 | Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound
29 July 2016 | Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound
08 July 2016 | Posted at Ucluelet
08 July 2016 | Posted at Ucluelet

Who stole the Glacier? Muir Inlet. July 9, 2015

23 July 2015 | Posted at Sitka
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: The lagoon downstream of McBride Glacier

We motored up Muir Inlet, looking for McBride Glacier. From four years before, I remembered a blue terminus spilling into a lagoon where kayakers paddled around giant blue icebergs.

We rounded a corner and there was the lagoon, scattered with icebergs, just like four years ago.

But something was missing: the glacier.

"Are you sure it was there four years ago?" Steve asked.

A small powerboat was motoring out the lagoon, weaving through the icebergs. It motored over to Osprey and stopped. A young man leaned out to talk to us.

"I hope you're not planning to go in there," he said. "There's not enough water for a sailboat at this tide."

"We were just wondering where the glacier was," said Steve.

"It's about three miles up, around the corner."

"I remember seeing it four years ago," I told him. "Has it retreated that far?"

"If you were here four years ago, you would have seen it. It's retreated about a mile and a half in four years."

So that was it. I wasn't deluded; I had seen it four years ago. Now it was gone.


Photo: the lagoon downstream of McBride Glacier in 2011. Note the blue glacier with dirt top.

I remember reading Alaska Days with Muir by S. Hall Young, the Presbyterian Minister who accompanied Muir on his explorations of SE Alaska. Young mused angrily that someone had stolen his glacier - the glacier now known as Dawes Glacier originally named Young Glacier. He was frustrated that there seemed to be no laws against glacier theft. How much angrier would Young have been, I wondered, if someone had taken the whole glacier away, not just its name. Because that's how I felt. Someone had stolen my glacier.

Glaciers in Glacier Bay have been retreating since Captain Cook first sailed by it in the 1770s, but the rate of retreat is increasing with global warming. This year that retreat seemed even more dramatic because low snowfall the winter before made the surrounding lands look barren. When we visited John Hopkins Inlet two days earlier, I'd been struck by how much smaller the glaciers looked than when we 'd last seen them, in 2007. I remembered the inlet as full of ice, glaciers and snow. This year it had merely been an inlet with several glaciers, albeit still beautiful.

Glacier Bay's glaciers are melting. Get up there soon to see them.
Comments
Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Annapolis 44 sloop
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
About:
Elsie and Steve Hulsizer have sailed northwest waters since arriving in Seattle via sailboat from Boston in 1979. [...]
Extra:
2017: local cruising including South Puget Sound and San Juan Islands 2016:north up West Coast VI, across QC Sound to central BC coast 2015: trip to SE Alaska 2014: Seymour and Belize Inlets through Nakwakto Rapids 2013: SE Alaska and back. 2012: from Seattle up the west coast of Vancouver [...]
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Osprey's Photos -