Hubbard Glacier Gallery

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We arrived a Disenchantment Bay early in the morning.  Our small ship allowed us to inch closer to the glacier’s face among the heavy gray mist and rain that covered the area. All the day’s excursions were focused on visiting the glacier.  We had the choice to Kayak quietly through the icefield, take one of the zodiacs or hop aboard a sizeable warm catamaran to get up close to view the glacier’s face.

The Odyssey waits for us in Disenchantment Bay

Gary and I had signed up to Kayak, while Mary and Bob chose to stay warm and take the catamaran. We all had unique experiences to share when we regrouped on board.

Gary and I reported to the salon on deck 5 to get suited up for our catamaran excursion at 8:30 am.  When we arrived, the venture team members were there to provide complete dry suits for each of us and assisted us in getting into them, which was a challenge.  However, these suits turned out to be very appreciated as our trip would be in a light rain most of the time, and the temperatures were in the 30s at the water’s surface.

Gary in his Dry Suite getting ready to play in the ice-Hubbard Glacier 2023After we were given special flotation devices, we were led down to the water line exit and boarded a zodiac.  Another zodiac had all the kayaks tied to it.  The plan was to take us and the zodiacs to a location near the shore where the water and currents were calm.  We would load all the kayaks from the zodiacs and, given weather protection, mittens to hold onto the paddles.

There were six tandem kayaks with twelve passengers, plus our venture guide.  Once we were all settled into our kayaks, our guide gave us a briefing about how to navigate the ice field in front of us safely and head towards the face of the glacier about two-three miles away.  In short, we were not to ride up on or hit any icebergs.

Off we went, silently gliding through the ice field.  We were surrounded by an eerie quiet interrupted by the birds calling and often thunderous white thunder emanating from the glacier as it cracked and moved to the water.  We were lucky to see the ice calving as giant chunks fell into the water.  The more significant the ice chunk, the farther down it would go, only to return spectacularly as it shoots back up through the surface.  Our Venture team called them shooters. Finally, the ice chunk settles into a free-floating iceberg in front of the glacier’s surface.

Our two-plus hours on the bay exploring the glacier were terrific.  We saw a few sea lions pop their heads up through the surface to see what we were up to as we paddled toward the glacier.  We Hubbard Glacier - Getting Ready to head back to the shippaddled through small chunks of moving ice and past spectacular deep blue icebergs.  We saw a few icebergs roll over, caused by the heavy ice on top forcing them to roll over in the water, exposing ancient crystal-clear chunks of ice. The more transparent the ice, the older it was, which could have been several hundred years old in some cases.

Gary and I couldn’t help but giggle with delight as we made our way closer to the glaciers.  Our venture team showed us where Hubbard was merging with the Valerie Glacier before making it to the bay.

48 ft catamaran looks tiny with Hubbard Glacier in the backgroundMary and Bob also had a fantastic experience as they were allowed to get even closer to the glacier face than we were.  They were bigger and had more power to move out faster if a significant calving event occurred.  Bob and Mary also described the ominous sound of the white thunder.  Their Venture Team guide grabbed a chunk of crystal-clear ice that he estimated to be over 400 years old.

We all agreed that the sheer massiveness of the glaciers was terrific.  It is over 6 miles wide and 400 feet tall, with varying colors of blue showing throughMary with a 400 year old piece of glacial ice - a little on the tilt the ice cracks and fissures topped by the moraine debris in front and on top of the glacier.  It is hard to comprehend what this looks like unless you see it up close.  We all highly recommend you get a chance to see this magnificent glacier face as it advances to the bay.

Be sure to book a cruise line with an itinerary including Disenchantment Bay and Hubbard Glarier to get this amazing experience.

Both guides talked about how the glacier had advanced so far in May of 1986 that it reached the edge of Russell Fjord, creating a blockage and Russell Lake that grew to 82’ high before bursting through on October 8 in what is referred to as the most significant glacial lake outburst floo.

Hubbard Glacier is a magnificent natural wonder located in Alaska, USA. It is one of the largest tidewater glaciers in North America, and to the four of us, it was by far the highlight of our trip.   Niki Sepsas, our Venture Team leader, provided a forty-five-minute talk about Hubbard Glacier and other notable glaciers we would encounter along the way, including Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau.

The origins of Hubbard Glacier can be traced back to the Saint Elias Mountains in Yukon, Canada. It is formed by the accumulation of snowfall over many years, which then transforms into ice. The tributary glaciers of the Mount Logan and Mount Alveston regions feed the glacier. These glaciers merge to form the massive Hubbard Glacier.

Hubbard Glacier is unique because it is a tidewater glacier that flows directly into the ocean. It stretches about 76 miles from its source in Canada to its terminus in Disenchantment Bay, Alaska. The glacier is known for its impressive size, with a width of about 6 miles at its terminus and a height of approximately 400 feet above sea level.

One of the remarkable features of the Hubbard Glacier is its constant movement. Like all glaciers, Hubbard Glacier is constantly advancing and retreating. Various factors, including temperature, precipitation, and ocean currents, influence this movement. Over the years, Hubbard Glacier has experienced periods of both advancement and retreat, resulting in its size and shape changes.

Today, Hubbard is one of two glaciers still advancing despite climate change.  Scientists don’t know what exactly is causing the current advance but speculate it could be seismic activity or water under the ice helping to push the glacier forward.

The Odyssey was totally isolated in the Hubbard Glacier Fjord.  Our choice of excursions was all focused on experiencing this amazing glacier and its surrounding mountains and wildlife.

  1. Kayaking to Hubbard Glacier – after putting on our dry suits, this excursion allowed us to get up to about 1 mile from the actual glacier face, navigating our way through the ice field past many composite icebergs towards the six-mile face of Hubbard Glacier.  Thunderous white thunder was constantly heard from the shifty ice in the glacier.
  2. Zodiac excursions also allowed guests incredible views of the glacier and wildlife.  The speedy zodiacs transported passengers quickly and more comfortably than the kayaks but did not allow for the appreciation of experiencing nature up close in a quiet atmosphere.
  3. A large motor catamaran provided the most comfortable and up-close view of the glacier, sometimes getting as close as a half mile.  Passengers could move between the heated cabin and the outside observation decks.  A marine guide provided the passengers with many mind-boggling facts about Hubbard Glacier.

 

Fun Facts About Hubbard Glacier Alaska:

1. Hubbard Glacier is located in eastern Alaska and is part of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve.

2. It is the largest tidewater glacier in North America, with a face that is over 6 miles wide.

3. The glacier is named after Gardiner Greene Hubbard, the first president of the National Geographic Society.

4. Hubbard Glacier is a popular destination for tourists who want to see the natural beauty of Alaska.

5. The glacier is over 76 miles long and covers an area of over 1,350 square miles.

6. Hubbard Glacier is one of the few glaciers in the world that is still advancing, meaning it is getting larger.

7. The glacier is fed by snow and ice from the surrounding mountains, which can receive up to 100 feet of snow each year.

8. Hubbard Glacier is known for its stunning blue color, which is caused by the way the ice reflects light.

9. The glacier is surrounded by rugged mountains and dense forests, making it a truly breathtaking sight.

10. Hubbard Glacier is home to a variety of wildlife, including bears, moose, and eagles.

11. The glacier is also home to a number of marine animals, such as seals and sea lions.

12. Hubbard Glacier is a popular spot for kayaking and other water activities.

13. The glacier is constantly calving, which means that large chunks of ice break off and fall into the water.

14. The sound of the ice calving is often compared to the sound of thunder.

15. Hubbard Glacier is one of the few glaciers in the world that can be seen from a cruise ship.

16. The glacier is a popular destination for photographers who want to capture its stunning beauty.

17. Hubbard Glacier is one of the most visited attractions in Alaska.

18. The glacier is a popular spot for hiking and camping.

19. Hubbard Glacier is an important source of freshwater for the surrounding area.

20. The glacier is a reminder of the power and beauty of nature, and a symbol of the importance of preserving our planet’s natural wonders.