Thursday, September 7, 2017

Quest of the Ice Cave II

The day was beautiful as forecasted. I started on the West Glacier Trail. The trail would bring you to a mountain ridge on the west side of the Mendenhall glacier, which would provide a wonderful top-down view of the glacier. Somewhere one-third on the trail, there is a split, which heads down towards the Mendenhall lake. This is the "unofficial" trail that would bring you right to the glacier itself, and is the trail to the icecave.

When I reached the split in the trail, there was a group of tourists led by a guide who was briefing them. She was apparently leading them to a glacier hike, which means they would be heading down the trail. I asked the guide if it's safe or difficult on the trail, and she replied convincing

"You'll be fine".

Boosted by that, I plunged headlong onto the trail. The icecave may have collapsed, but at least I can stand right beside a glacier. And I guess I wanted to just "complete" my planned trek to the "icecave" since I had researched on it for a while. Armed with the GPS tracks on my mobile, and reaffirmed by the trail markers, the trek was easier then I had expected even though there were quite a few climbs over rocky terrain. But one thing was certain - if it had been rainy, the trail would have been a different beast, and possibly too dangerous to attempt.

Up-close - Glacial Hiking

Instead, the trail had surprising amount of traffic, no doubt due to the excellent weather. Online information put the trek as a 7-8 hour round-trip trek, so I upped my pace to make sure I had enough time as I knew I'm a slow hiker. But I reached the base of the glacier in 2 hours.

Entrance of cave

And I found a group of people in front of a cave entrance. I hastened forward, heart beating fast (hey, I was hiking fast). And round the corner, there was this surreal weird-greenish "wall" that greeted me.

I was ecstatically mind-blown.

I suspected I had a maniacal look on my face when I entered the cave. My camera and my iPhone went into overdrive, and I wished I had more hands. It was difficult though. The whole "cave' was dripping. Icy glacier water was dripping all over. And I realized, it was not exactly a "cave" (anymore). Further in, there was another opening, but littered with huge chunks of ice. It dawned on me that, that must had been the "back" of the cave when it "collapse", essentially opening up the cave. So now the cave had 2 openings! (so is this still considered a cave?)

Cave wiith two openings

This changed the entire look of the icecave. With 2 light sources, the photographic compositions, mood etc also changed. But I cannot complain. Ice caves come and go, and after all that had happened, I am SO glad that I still had the chance to see it in person.

It was cold beneath the glacier. It was completely wet with water dripping overhead, and flowing on the ground.

But now, I am very happy. :)

Surreal blue and colours

Surreal blue and colours

Even with the "excessive" light, the colour vaariation is surreal

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