- Cryosphere refers to any portion of the Earth's surface where water is in solid form, including glaciers, ice caps, ice sheets, sea ice, snow cover, frozen rivers, lakes, and permafrost. The Cryosphere is closely linked to the Hydrosphere and plays a crucial role in the ecosystem and our everyday lives.
- I've chosen the name because Cryosphere encompasses a wide range of ice around the world. This blog is meant to chronicle not all glaciers, but those that I experience and photograph in my travels. My vision is to visit and write about as many glaciers and other ice forms as possible while I pursue knowledge and share experiences of a beautiful world of ice. I hope you enjoy the photographs and follow along as I go!

09 August 2016

A Foggy Morning on the Matanuska

A rare quite time for me. I write this because I can't keep my mind still to simply enjoy the calm morning. I sit by the side of a kettle pond, waiting.  I have over an hour until the group I will be photographing today begins ice climbing, and I'm in no hurry to move from this cold rock as the fog rolls over me. I'm not just waiting for the group to get moving, or for the fog to clear to reveal the glacier I know hides behind it, I'm waiting for the morning's calm to find me. When it does, it is a rare feeling at this point in my life. So much hustling between groups or rushing to a climb, I rarely take time on the glacier to just sit and enjoy this beautiful place. Now I stare into this wasteland of the moraine filled with nothingness with a mere outline of the icefall above the fog. Below, nothing but rocks, dirt, and calm, clear-blue water of the kettle ponds. The only sound is the faint noise of the river a quarter mile to my right.

I've left my group temporarily to walk out to a location I've never been, though I look out to it as I walk past every day. The mystery of the fog brought me out here, but the silence keeps me. The summer is coming to an end, trees are changing, frost covers the leaves in early morning hours, and in a month I will be back in Utah searching for work once again. The uncertainty doesn't concern me now, though - the summer has been one of the best I've ever had.

My stomach still queasy from motion sickness, the calm, cool morning is exactly what I need to absorb the previous day's events. Lizzie and I have been trying to get a flight above the Matanuska to see where it all starts, but the weather almost never cooperates in Alaska. Yesterday was a beautiful day as we continued work on our hand-built 10'x12' home for next summer. An oddly urgent radio call toward the end of the day from our friend Emily, and before we knew it we were pulling into the airfield at the base of the Matanuska. Emily had been invited to go flying and bring 4 friends along for the ride. Lizzie and I were ecstatic to be asked along.
The glacier we've come to know so well was suddenly entirely unfamiliar from the air. We had our first glimpse of Mt Marcus Baker, where the glacier originates, as well as many other high peaks of the Chugach. As we barraged our pilot, Bill, with questions about the names of glaciers, peaks, and valleys, it seemed every third or fourth feature was simply unnamed. Whenever Bill reported something had no name, he seemed to do so with a bit of excitement in his voice. Toward the end of our flight we passed over a large glacier which also reportedly had no name, and Emily suggested that Bill, more than anyone, could in fact give it a name. Bill chuckled and quickly remarked that he rather liked when things didn't have names. "It makes it feel more wild." For the rest of the flight, no one asked him what anything was called, we just enjoyed the truly Alaskan experience. This State is so big and so wild it feels like a place that is meant to be seen from the air. For now, though, a cold rock by the pond on a foggy morning will do.

This is my second entry from the Matanuska, more information for this glacier can be found in my first post, here. This was written entirely on the morning of the 19th as I sat in this spot, though I have since edited it to flow more smoothly.

Our pilot, Bill, runs Glacier Park, which maintains access to the Matanuska. While Bill rarely flies commercially any more, several companies offer aerial sightseeing of the Mat. I highly recommend it.

More Photos:

Mt. Marcus Baker and the head of the Matanuska
Looking down the Matanuska Glacier
Just after the fog cleared, from another pond close by

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