by Klondike Kid
The ICE AGES! Without a doubt these are some of the most significant environmental events to affect Earth since its origin. And although there have been many ice age cycles in our history, the last one occurred long before mankind's formal recorded history. But fortunately, the shear magnitude of these global changes leaves evidence lasting many millenia after the fact and can provide mankind a wonderful opportunity to take a glimpse into this past.
Alaska contains a substantial number of the world's icefields and glaciers but the problem is the majority of these glaciers are often located in the more remote regions of the state where accessibility is quite limited. Those which are most popular with travelers and Alaskans alike are often visited by tour boat with the majority of these glaciers being "tidewater" which flow all the way to the sea. Calving of icebergs along the face is a spectacular event to witness as most TV viewers have seen.
There are also air charter operations, both helicopter and light aircraft, which provide incredible aerial views of these spectacular expanses of snow and ice where only the very tops of mountains thousands of feet high protrude to the surface. Its an experience which creates memories that will last a lifetime.
Land-accessible glaciers in Alaska are relatively few compared to the total number in the state. Some can be visited in remote areas via hiking trails or combination adventures involving rafting or boating down rivers and then hiking. Many glaciers can be viewed from the highway system at a distance but climatic conditions during the past several decades have seen major retreat of many of these and some are no longer viewable from the road.
Most notable in the receding glacier group are the Matanuska and Portage Glaciers which have retreated many miles during the past 30 years and no longer provide the spectacular views they once did from roadside observation locations.
Yet there is one exceptional glacier which I feel is in a class all by itself. This one glacier has remained relatively stable over the years and is accessible by road just a few miles off the main highway. And the most notable feature of this glacier is that you can walk to within a stone's throw of its landlocked base for the most incredible views and photos you can ever imagine.