Thursday 1 September 2011

WT - Alaska Skagway (Glacier)

We awoke at 07:30 to the Captain announcing our arrival at Skagway, which has a number of original buildings over a hundred years old and while that may not sound all that impressive compared to the pyramids, it must be remembered that this is a very isolated town (with a population today of only 800) that only the toughest of people could settle.

Had Ronnie and I had any sense at all we would not have done the hiking we did the day before, as it is we had forgotten that we had booked an early excursion to wander about on a glacier like a couple of mountain goats. Meeting at 08:10 at the end of the dock and a 3 minute ride (seriously) to the air port gives us time to don emergency life jackets and special ice boots with these little metal studs (no not spikes). We were given our safety briefing (no roundhouse kicks to our fellow travellers while wearing the ice boots etc.) so that we can prance about on the ice…. did I mention the ICE! 

That’s right all you sun loving people (you know who we are) who can’t stand the cold… hehe! Cold doesn’t even begin to describe it.At  first it’s not so bad – so what if you left your gloves on the ship in your haste…. Till you’re standing on the ice, may look dirty but that doesn’t make it warm. This is a frozen river of ice, not 5 or 6 inches of ice covered water, try over 150 metres of almost solid ice (and this is a small receding glacier). You’re like an ant on a giant ice cube,,, and you are doing this for what?….FUN? 

The gentle breeze of about 8 knots along the length of this little glacier in 20 minutes has you thinking a blizzard is starting as your nose begins to run, lips burn and fingers sting. Fortunately over the next 20 minutes you lose all feeling on your face (so you don’t even know your node is running) so you are only left with the popsicles you call fingers. Just then our guide explains that this is the purest water on earth running in rivulets down the glacier, if you sacrifice a hand you can taste this pure water by scooping it into your mouth. Of course I did it… I’m a ridgeback from oz – she’ll be right mate! 

20 minutes later you are looking about for the emergency stop button when the guide says, “Okay for the short stayers, let’s start heading back.” – so I ask “how long are you out here for?” he responds, “We get dropped off at about 07:00 till pickup at 20:00!”, “Rather him than me”, thinks I.

We were no sooner arriving at the LZ (Landing Zone) when the choppers (Helicopters – for the benefit of the bikers) start arriving. A 30 minute (warm) flight sees us back at the air-port and almost ready for the next adventure.

Silt and dirt deposits from the glacier.

Two glaciers are converging here and this rock has been forced to the surface.

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