Glacier Bay – From Summit to Sea, 3.3 Million Acres of Alaskan Landscapes

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska

The highlight of an Alaskan Cruise is the day spent in Glacier Bay. Ours wasn’t the perfect day, but the low clouds added a sense of drama to the images I brought home. One of the most interesting discoveries I made when I got home and reviewed the photographs was the vivid colors of the terrain. In the gallery I am sharing with this post, I only touched Lightroom’s Vibrance control sparingly, if at all. Mostly, I used the contrast and highlights controls to bring out the details in the clouds and to bring some “snap” to the images.

Early in the morning, a team of rangers from the National Park Service boarded our ship and they were given access to the shipboard public address system. All along our tour in Glacier Bay, they provided a running commentary on what we were seeing. For example, in the image above, at the foot of the glacier is a land surface pushed along by the movement of the glacier. That surface is known as a shoal, and as long as a glacier’s shoal is in place, the face of the glacier is protected from water erosion. Once the shoal is compromised, the glacier begins receding as the water erodes the glacier face.

As we entered the bay, low clouds and fog obscured our view, but as the day progressed, the fog dissipated and the cloud ceiling rose, providing a gorgeous view of the terrain in the park, except for the mountain peaks, anyway. I had expected to see huge icebergs, but most of the floating ice forms were not very large at all, certainly no threat to the 93,000 gross tonnage of the Norwegian Pearl.

When we arrived at the mouth of a glacier, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the ship would turn on opposite steering jets in the front and rear causing the ship to turn 360 degrees on center. That feature allowed everyone on either side of the ship to get a full view of the glacier and surrounding terrain. I was disappointed to find out later that due to the low clouds, the ship did not travel any further inland into a narrow straight where some other glaciers are visible. I was told that whenever there’s a possibility of low fog, that bay is too narrow to safely navigate. Though we missed out on the views, safety of the ship and its 3500 souls on board has to be the captain’s first concern.

We spent the good part of the morning and part of the afternoon in Glacier Bay. I submit for your approval, a gallery of images taken that consists of views along a shoreline and among islands that were completely covered by ice only 200 years ago.



John Steiner

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