Here’s an image from the first night of my most recent trip, a month long adventure down around the coastline of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park and Preserve. This photo was taken on the air taxi flight out to the coast; we departed a little from the scheduled route and I shot some images of the Hubbard Glacier and surrounding area. The points of interest here start with the Hubbard Glacier itself, generally regarded as the largest tidewater glacier in the world. At over 70 miles long, it’s quite a chunk of ice (given part of our trip was to look at the Malaspina Glacier and it caving into a tidal lagoon, the Hubbard’s claim to fame may be short-lived; the Malaspina is much bigger, and most definitely reaches the ocean).
You can also just see the edge of Valerie Glacier, and the medial moraine the separates the 2 glaciers, on the left hand side of this frame. The 2 iceflows join up a few miles before they calve into the Bay, and together form an open glacial face that’s over 6 miles wide. Impressive stats, for sure.
Other points of interest include Gilbert Point, the small channel on the right hand side of the frame here, through which the Russell Fjord drains into Disenchantment Bay. The Glacier advances every summer, often at a relatively rapid rate, and has twice recently plugged Gilbert Point, threatening to landlock the Fjord, and potentially flood surrounding ecosystems to the south. So far, though, that hasn’t happened, and each time the Fjord has forced its way thru the dam wall, breaking through the ice and emptying into the Bay; doing so very dramatically. In 1986 the flow was estimated to be over 5 cubic kilometres of water in 24 hrs, the 2nd largest glacial lake outburst flood ever; that’s about the equivalent of 35 Niagara Falls. How long this cat and mouse game will go on is anyone’s guess.
Mt. Seattle stands aloft behind the Hubbard. The Hubbard Glacier actually starts at Mt. Walsh, to the north, but also a small tributary ice flow starts on the flanks of might Mt. Logan, Canada’s highest peak.
The Hubbard Glacier is also known as one of the most actively calving glaciers around. Here’s a couple of photos from a trip down there in 2008 of a calving face.