A few summers ago, I spent 15 days on the Black Rapids Glacier, conducting fieldwork studying the interaction of the glacier with a large tributary Glacier. On one of the days, we took an impromptu hike to see some ice-locked lakes on the northern margin of the glacier.

It was about a one-mile hike from our camp to the northern moraine. Multiple streams needed to be crossed to get on the rocky landscape. We had already tried a couple of times to cross previously, but there was too much meltwater. This day was cooler, with less melt and slightly easier crossings.

At times I pause, just to mentally note that there is 1200 feet of ice beneath my feet.

Another stream with large boulders at the margin of the moraine

The moraine looks like a talus field, but it's actually a thin layer of rock covering the ice. Here it's about half a mile wide and runs almost the entire length of the glacier. From where we could cross the river, it was about a 3-mile hike to the hillside we were aiming for across this terrain.

A lake! Well, it was a lake just a day or two before. This one had already collapsed, drained through that dark hole in the top left of the photo. I'll leave it to the reader to find the person in this picture to get a sense of scale. Relatively speaking, this is a small lake.

Purple Mountain Saxifrage. There are countless flowers tucked in with the rocks on the moraine.

As we finally stepped off the glacier and began the steep hike up the mountainside, the ice-dammed marginal lake we were out to see fully came into view. This one hadn't drained completely yet. There was a little bit of surface drainage where the water carved a canyon through the ice, but the sub-glacial hydraulic system wasn't quite ready to move all that water yet.

We continued up the mountainside past some little blue alpine ponds. I really want to camp here sometime.

A panorama of the incredible landscape even further uphill. Again, find the person for scale.

This caribou came tearing out of the clouds above us and was calling loudly. It looked young, and it was alone. There are a million things that could go wrong for wildlife out here. I've been near caribou before, and this one seemed more stressed than normal. Possibly something to do with the black bear we saw in this area just a few days before? She ran all the way down to the glacier in barely a minute. This was probably one of the coolest wildlife encounters I've ever had!

On the long, tiring walk home. At least the sky finally started clearing. The ridge we hiked up is in the center background.

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