On the Road Adventures

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

July 8 - Portage

We went back to the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center and took a guided walk of the glacial moraine. Our ranger, Farah, had lots of good information on the geology and plant life, but the neatest thing was that I got to get a picture of a chocolate lily, which is a pretty rare flower.

Then we took a ride on a boat on Portage Lake. So, here’s the glacier spiel: There are about a thousand glaciers in Chugach Nat’l Forest, the most approachable of which are right here at Portage. You can get to see Portage Glacier by boat, and Byron Glacier by hiking a short trail, and Shakespeare, Burns, and Middle Glacier are all easily visible, as well as a whole bunch more that I don’t know names for. Portage Glacier has retreated about 10 miles in the last 100 years, leaving at its feet a 600’ deep lake behind the terminal moraine it built up at the height of its existence. The ice is blue because that’s the only wavelength that refracts out of the ice, and there really are such things as ice worms. They are tiny and black, about like an inch long sewing thread and actually live in the ice, eating pollen that gets trapped on the surface. Who knew?

The little boat got close enough to the face of the glacier that it all took on the air of an abstract sculpture.

Later in the afternoon we walked up to Byron Glacier, where Gypsy jumped into that frigid water every chance she got, and ran around in the snow like a crazy dog.

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