Exploring Alaska’s Hubbard Glacier with Silversea Cruises
It’s May 16, 2014, it’s a beautiful sunny day around 60º, and we’re aboard Silversea Cruises Silver Shadow for their very first Alaska sailing for the year.
Over 4,000,000 people will traverse these waters this year. However, most of them will travel during the months of June, July, and August. Part of this is due to ignorance about Alaska’s weather, and part of this has to do with traditional summer vacation patterns.
Nonetheless, we’re here in mid-May and have the whole glacier completely to ourselves. Pristine, crystal clear, and not another cruise ship in sight. That’s the way we like it!
As we neared the Hubbard Glacier, we started to encounter icebergs in the water, so the captain sent a scout to the front of the ship to make certain that we didn’t encounter anything sizable enough to create danger.
From a photographer’s perspective, it seemed that the closer we got to the glacier, the more difficult it got to photograph. The scene contained a lot of bright white, and the air was filled with moisture as the warm sun was creating a slight fog off the glacier.
In retrospect, I should have brought my tripod and shot multiple exposures to create what modern photographers call an HDR. This is the combination of three or more separate exposures into one photograph. This would prevent the highlights from being blown out. Silly ole me, I had a Sony a7 in my suite that was quite capable of accomplishing this task. But in the excitement of the moment, and the push of a hundred people or so, I opted to forgo the idea. 🙁
Here’s some interesting information about the Hubbard Glacier from the National Park Service:
- The Hubbard Glacier is North America’s largest tidewater glacier. It is 76 miles long, 7 miles wide, and 600 feet tall at its terminal face (350 feet exposed above the waterline and 250 feet below the waterline).
- The Hubbard Glacier starts at Mt. Logan (19850 ft) in the Yukon Territory. Mt. Logan is the 2nd tallest mountain on the North American continent.
- The Hubbard Glacier is currently advancing (last 100 years), while most Alaskan glaciers are retreating (95%). This is not in contradiction with current global temperature increases. The Hubbard Glacier will advance during times of warming climate and retreat in time of colder climates. The current rate of advance is approximately 80 feet per year.
As we pulled away from the Hubbard Glacier, I felt fortunate to have enjoyed the privilege as an eyewitness to one of creation’s great marvels: an active glacier carving its way through the surrounding mountains.
It’s an experience we highly recommend!
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