Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mendenhall Ice Caves

I know it's been a while since I updated. I've been having some problems with my camera. But enough about that.. Some things have changed and it turns out that Jonny and I are both going to be naturalist guides this summer! To get us ready, we decided to kick things off with another hike to the ice caves. The last time I went there, it was summer and most of the caves had already collapsed. This time, things were much different.

On our way there, we spotted what looked like an animal hide. As we approached, we saw a dead mountain goat lying on the rocks. You could even still see its hooves attached. Wolves are spotted frequently near the glacier, so we think that's what happened to the goat.

Here's the Mendenhall glacier!

Jonny climbed up onto the ice for a better look.

It really turned out to be a beautiful day!

Last summer, the caves I found were more like tiny crawl spaces beneath ice ridges. This spring they're entirely different. These caves were large, round, and very long! We could stand up and walk from one end to the other!

But what ARE ice caves, you might ask? Well, let me tell you! An ice cave is formed by water that runs through or underneath the glacier. Heat transfer from the water can then form air-filled cavities. If you know where to look, you can find these air pockets underneath the glacier. They're beautifully crafted out of the densest, more azure glacial ice.

Here I am standing in front of the entrance of the first cave we explored. It was about 75ft long.

The blue ice that I was encircled by was absolutely amazing.

Jonny gets dripped on by the melting ceiling of the cave.

We made it through and went on to explore the face of the glacier for more caves. 

Standing next to something so large can really make you feel tiny!

Jonny stops for lunch.

Here's the interior of the second ice cave. This one was about 200ft long.

Jonny reaching for the ceiling of the cave.

Here I am feeling the ice.

Having a great time together.

The end of the tunnel.

The different textures of the ice are so beautiful that I decided to take some close-ups.

The sunlight streaming down through the ice made everything look so blue inside!

Examining the silt on the ice.

Here's one end of the tunnel.

 And here's the other.

We also took some walkthroughs of the tunnels. If you'd like to see them, click on the links below!

Click here to see walkthrough 1.

Click here to see walkthrough 2.

After we had explored the tunnels and had decided it was time to go back, something extraordinary happened. We were walking away from the glacier when we heard what sounded like roaring thunder. When we turned around, we saw a huge chunk of ice the size of two cars break off from the face of the glacier and splash into the lake below. Ice scattered everywhere into the water revealing a brand new deep blue section of ice on the glacier's front. Several waves then shot out and quickly carried the smaller pieces into the middle of the lake. We were so mesmerized that we couldn't do much more than stare with our mouths hanging open. But I did manage to record a bit of the aftermath right after the calving occurred. 

Click here to see the aftermath!

After all the excitement, it was time to start the long hike back.

We sure had a great time! What an incredible first hike to the glacier for Jonny! Enjoy the pictures and videos we took from my phone. I hope to get a new camera in the future that can take better pictures. Make sure to check back for our next adventure!

1 comment:

  1. I loved the adventure. What an incredible experience. I loved the live walk through, it made me feel as if I were on a tour with the both of you. The Claving was something too! Be careful out there.
    Love, Mom


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