Alaska Cruise Report: LeConte Bay, Petersburg on Mitkof Island & Kupreanof Island

From the National Geographic Sea Bird in Alaska, June 8, 2010

A congregation of icebergs sat stoically in Le Conte Bay this morning. They were fugitives of the last ebb tide. Hemmed into the bay by an unseen terminal moraine, the bergs waited patiently for a flotation levitation by a morning flood tide. This ephemeral spectacle became our playground. Using our nimble Zodiacs we swerved around and between our favorite bergs, ice towers that morphed into dragons, Darth Vader, and a crystal fish. Icebergs epitomize the mental image many hold of Alaska. A place of lofty peaks, snowcapped, frozen and foreboding.

The surprise usually comes in the colors the landscape spreads before us; verdant green forest-clad mountains, emerald glacial silt-laden waters and cobalt blue ice statues. Amongst the peaks is the accumulation zone, the birthing place, if you will, of the bergs to be. With tremendous snow accumulation and the subsequent pressure of the piling snowfall, larger and larger ice crystals form. When this mass becomes a moving river of ice, a glacier is born. The travels of the glacier may take it to the sea. Once the ice calves from the face of the glacier, any boulders, rocks and gravel that had been gathered are unceremoniously dumped into the sea, as the encapsulating vehicle, the ice, slowly melts away.

Ice (by Ty Tamura,
age 14)

Glaciers flip swiftly
Brilliance so commended
Marvelous collage

Inspired by the ice behemoths of the morning, Ty Tamura contributed a Haiku to today’s writings.

The town of Petersburg was also, somewhat, born of ice. In 1897 Peter Bushman recognized productive fishing grounds near a calving tidewater glacier, making the perfect recipe for delivering fresh fish, packed in glacial ice, to markets south. Today fishing continues to be the mainstay of the local economy. In 2000 the value of the fishing industry for Petersburg was 19.4 million dollars.

From romps through the muskeg, an ambitious tromp up the mountain, a scenic spin on a bicycle or a mosey amongst the fishing fleet, Petersburg managed to fill out our day. A fitting closure was a dinner which included a delightful gustatory experience with local Dungeness crab. Yummy.

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