By Janelle Eklund
A layover day at Walker Glacier gave us the opportunity to explore the spectacular ecosystem. It was nice to have a leisurely morning with a late breakfast absorbing the peace and relaxation.
Some of us followed a trail that led us through alders and intermittent open areas splashed with glacial remnants in the form of light grey gravel. Other vegetation creeped into these areas in the form of pink pyrola, single sided pyrola, northern oxytrope, wormwood and a willow I couldn't ID from the plant book I carried - so I drew it.
On the glacier we walked on a surreal world. In the unseen depths, as we crossed narrow crevasses, the thunder of a river let itself be known. The suns paintbrush melted surface ice carving an icy blue stream that flowed into the bowels of the glacier. Dotting the glacial tongue blue worm holes filled with icy water carved different shapes - some short and some with no end. We searched for ice worms but they were illusive.
We had a picnic on the glacier, protecting our behinds from the cold of the glacier by sitting on our wool gloves while we ate. Even though it was a beautiful sunny day we protected ourselves from the chill of the glacial ice and breath with wind breakers, wool hats, and gloves.
After exploring the glacier we relaxed around camp the rest of the day. An old patch on one of the rafts had herniated so we decided two layover days at Walker Glacier would give the second repair adequate time to dry. Being a day ahead of schedule also helped so we didn't feel rushed.
The second day we entertained ourselves by sitting by the lake created by melting glacier ice and watched rocks fall off the moraine into the water. Huge bear tracks and old scat confirmed bear had passed by.
We filled our sun shower with crystal clear glacier pond water and lay it on warm rocks where the sun and rock acted as a hot water heater. Once warmed we lay a dry bag on the gravel, hung the shower from a tree limb and proceeded to wash the river grime from our bodies. Once refreshed we lizarded (laid in the sun), took naps and wrote in our journals. Puffy clouds moved by blocking the sun now and then forcing us to cover, shed, cover, shed as they played with each other. The evening sun hid behind a mountain to the southwest shining its last light on the mountains to the east, bathing them in a pink hue.
To be continued
From my light to yours-
Who We Are
WISEfriends are several writers connected with Wrangell Institute for Science and Environment, a nonprofit organization located in Alaska's Copper River Valley. Most of these articles originally appeared in our local newspaper, the Copper River Record.