We anchored behind Composite Island and tarried (some folks taking advantage of the tarrying by going out in kayaks) until Holland America’s Nieuw Amsterdam sailed past. Captain Eric didn’t want us to even see the big ship. While Nieuw Amsterdam sailed up to Margerie Glacier we sailed into John Hopkins Inlet.
One of the last conversations I had with writer (and neighbor) Richard Nelson was about salmon recolonizing Glacier Bay. Rivers that had been covered with ice are revealed by the retreating glaciers. Salmon are recolonizing the streams. Salmon are supposed to return to their natal stream, but according to research that Nels was following, depending on the species, between 5% and 15% of salmon stray, sometimes straying to repopulate a newly revealed stream. As we sailed up the inlet we watched nature’s recovery as pioneer species laid the groundwork for a new forest.
We sailed past Lamplugh Glacier, a semi tide water glacier. It has built a moraine at its terminal. During high tide it is still tidewater, at low tide it is landbound. It’s a good demonstration of how glaciers and tides mold the earth.
The Johns Hopkins Glacier towers about 250 feet above the waterline, traveling 12 miles from the Fairweather range to the bay. Henry Fielding Reid, one of the first graduates of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore named it after his college. Reid was a glacialogist who did early work on Glacial Rebound, how the earth rises after glaciers melt.
The glacier is a giant bulldozer, pushing crushed rock in in front of it, depositing it on the inlet floor creating moraines. It is a noisy glacier, with constant cracks and booms as ice falls off into the inlet. After each crash is the cry of seabirds who are happy that the falling ice has disrupted sea life allowing the birds to have dive for fresh fish. We hung out at the glacier, watching, and listening.