Le Conte Glacier

Every year, we host a Rainforest Festival here in Petersburg and one of the events this year was a tour by Breakaway Adventure Tours of the Le Conte Glacier which is a tidal glacier.  To get you oriented here’s a NE Google view–the yellow line is the Canadian border and beyond that, the Stikine River.  Also visit this site hosted on pbase by John Scurlock.

Icebergs can be seen here in this digital photograph–and many of them make it past our house about 25 miles distant in the Wrangell Narrows.  I lassoed one last year and dragged it up our beach for free ice.  And the Petersburg fishing industry in the past century used this as a source for ice for the fishpacking industry.

We’ve had record rainfall this August–I measured about 25 inches over a 30 day period and officially in town about 18 inches fell during this month.  Of course, the rivers ran wild and waterfalls were abundant–this is the approach into Le Conte Bay.

This berg is grounded at the entrance of the bay where fjords are shallower.  This is because the ice (which reached the entrance up until about 250 years ago) released their rocky contents when spreading out into Frederick Sound.  Today, this glacier is backed up about four miles.

This is a side canyon with Castle Mountain in the distance.  These peaks we see due east from our house; they have been honed sharp by glacial action over the millennia.

As we enter closer to the source, we encounter hundreds of harbor seals.  Sometimes Orcas will hunt in here–a captive meal of sorts.

And here’s the glacial face with a huge serac breaking off.   We are parked about 1/4 mile away so the sound arrives late–which is equivalent to dynamite!   A gleeful passenger raises his hands in excitement!

And here’s the consequence–a small tsunami–this one about 15′ tall and surging towards us–what excitement!  This glacier extends down below sea level to bedrock; here about 700′ so when submerged bergs break off–they’re launched into the air with no warning or sound.   This is indeed a wild place!

Glacier ice is not white, nor clear, but absorbs and reflects many spectra resulting in many beautiful colors.  I call this the Horsehead Iceberg–what a beautiful trip!  Come up for our Rainforest Festival next year.

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