Tuesday, October 2, 2018
Calm and overcast with some peeks of sun, 28ºF
Last night we arrived in Ymerbukta. I don’t remember a whole lot about that since I was pretty seasick. But, I do remember that our guide Sarah knocked on our cabin doors around 10:00pm to see Northern Lights. So, we popped out of bed, grabbed our coats, and went on deck. A big green streak danced above our heads and whipped in a delicate wave.
This morning, I got up around 6:30am or so for coffee and to go out on deck. To my joy (I’m sure that everyone else had already realized it), we were anchored right in front of a glacier! I ping-ponged around the deck of the ship squealing a little with excitement, looking out at the glacier, and taking pictures of this unknown-to-me landscape.
We ate our first breakfast on the ship and listened to instructions for our first hiking excursion. The group split based on two options- one was a short hike along the shore to the face of the glacier and one was a slightly longer hike to see the glacier from above and to the side.
I took the longer option. We walked up and over a rocky, lumpy ridge that was dotted with tiny frozen mosses. The sky, cloaked in a uniform grey cloud-cover, flattened the light and made judging distances challenging.
We hiked up and over one bumpy, snowy ridge that expanded our view back towards the ship and forward into the glacier and valley. We descended the backside of the hill next to the glacier and listened in silence for a few moments to a stream of water flowing out from the ice.
My mind raced as we sat. “What is this place that we’re now immersed in, of seemingly endless water, ice, and rock? How did I get to come here? How can I stay? Quiet, mind. The sound of this water is heavenly.” The sun started to peak from the clouds and added shadows to the drama of it all.
After our break in silence, we walked along the line between ice and land and followed the edge of the glacier back to the fjord. What surprised me was how dirty the glacier was. From all of the photos I’ve seen of glacial ice, it seems dazzling white, blue, and teal — and … clear. Or some form of pure frozen water. But here, where the glacier meets the land, evidence of its movement can be seen with the volume of earth it carries embedded within it. Boulders, rocks, sand, and mud are ground up and transported beneath the glacier as it moves.
I stepped toward the ice and the rocks it suspended. Placed my bare hand on its face. And I leaned in to try to hear it.
After a few more moments, we kept walking to get back down to the water. Chunks of ice on the beach - jewels illuminated by the sun low on the horizon (even though it was only just after noon). I picked up a shard of ice a couple of inches long and held it in my hand.
It’s just ice. Like so much other ice I’ve seen. Right? But, when was this ice formed? What was its path to being held in my hand at this moment? How do these bubbles form? And, how is it that it can taste so salty? It’s just ice.
I felt compelled to put the ice back on the beach to leave it how I found it, and I walked on towards the zodiac and back onto the ship.
This activity is made possible, in part, by funds provided by the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council (MRAC) through a grant from The McKnight Foundation.