I walked up to Exit Glacier and once my mind wrapped around what I was seeing, I was shocked, surprised and saddened. It had been seven years since I’d seen it and the changes were staggering. It was like seeing a once vivacious old friend who is now gaunt, pallid and suffering from a mysterious ailment.
The glacier, located in Kenai Fjords National Park outside Seward, Alaska, is a special place to me, a place I’ve returned to several times. In the past it was possible to walk up to the toe of the glacier and see the towering mass of ice above, or approach it from a short trail where deep crevices harboring impossibly blue ice were visible. During our visit last week (August, 2014) we could no longer walk up to the toe and the deep crevices visible from the Exit Glacier Trail were no longer there. It was really sad.
Take a look at the below photos to see the changes.
The above two photos were taken from roughly the same spot. In 2006, my parents are seen looking up in awe of the glacier. I have always liked that photo. In 2014, visitors are looking down into the canyon at the glacier. That is a huge change!
The above two photos were taken from roughly the same spot, but the difference is incredible. In the top photo, you can see a large thumb on the left of the photo wrapped around a huge rocky area. In the 2014 photo, the thumb has melted.
This is no hoax. As you can see in the above photos featuring my friends and family from 2006 and 2007, and then me in 2014, we are all there posing in front of the glacier from about the same spot. I would never drag my parents into a liberal conspiracy, although I do wish they’d stop watching Fox News.
The park ranger said the toe of the glacier retreated 139 feet last year, which means that in the seven years since I’ve seen it, it has likely retreated 1000 feet. The above photo is some great evidence of that.
The below photo is very shocking to me. The sign says “Exit Glacier Was Here.” The year: 1998. In 16 years, the glacier has receded dramatically.
The year 1998 wasn’t that long ago. It was the year of Impeachment, Lewinsky and The Big Lebowski. Something about Mary was a surprise movie hit. Saving Private Ryan was a huge movie that year, and Tom Hanks and Matt Damon are still crushing it. That year, Derrick Jeter won his 2nd World Series and he is still playing for the (hated) Yankees.
In 1998, I was a 20-year-old college junior, trying figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Now I am a 36-year-old trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. Not a lot has changed in the world, unless you are glacier.
What are your thoughts when looking at these photos?
I’d love to hear your comments.
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