Last summer, a friend and I camped on the Black Rapids Glacier in the Alaska Range for 15 days. On day 11 we took a long, impromptu hike to check out some glacier ice-locked lakes near the northern margin of the glacier.
It's about a mile hike from our camp to the northern moraine. There are multiple streams that needed to be crossed just to get on the rocky landscape. We had already tried a couple times to cross, but there was too much water. This day was cooler, less melt, slightly easier crossings.
At times I pause, just to mentally note that there is 1200 feet of ice beneath my feet.
Haha. That's Andrew. I have no idea what he's taking a picture of. Maybe water dripping off the snowpack?
On the moraine. It looks pretty rocky, but it's just a thin layer of rock covering the ice. It's about half a mile wide and runs almost the entire length of the glacier. From where we were able to 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 Andrew in this picture to get a sense of scale. Relatively speaking, this is a small lake.
Purple Mountain Saxigrage. We came across many flowers tucked in with the rocks on the moraine.
Finally off the glacier and on the steep hike up some mountainside. That's the ice-dammed marginal lake we were out to see. Obviously, 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 continue up the mountainside past little, blue alpine ponds. I would like to camp here sometime.
Panorama of the incredible landscape we were looking at further uphill. Again, find Andrew for scale.
This caribou came 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!
The long, tired walk home. At least the sky finally started clearing. That's the ridge we hiked up behind Andrew. The end
This is a collection of my longer stories originally posted on Ello
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