It’s difficult to imagine how many anchorages we’ve stayed in over the course of the last 15 years: Hundreds, definitely. Thousands, probably not. Some of them – like the deserted islands of Tonga, Waewaetorea in New Zealand or Chief Matthews Bay in British Columbia’s most beautiful fjord – stand out. While others are distant memories, nothing more than stops along the way. But I think it’s fair to say that Reid Inlet just fell into our “most memorable” category.
Why? Because there’s a tidewater glacier at the head of the inlet that you can safely anchor off . . . one that begs to be explored.
There aren’t many opportunities to get up close and personal with the glaciers in
Glacier Bay – the pack ice and the possibility of calving keep
prudent boaters at a distance. But Reid Glacier is a little different from the
rest . . . most of it is on solid ground now.
As far as glaciers go, Reid isn’t as beautiful or dramatic as the others we’ve seen – Dawes, North Sawyer and South Sawyer. The ice has been weathered and now holds air bubbles that diffuse the light and soften the blues that are reflected, making them appear white and cloudy like sea glass.
A glacier starts its life high in the mountains where the snow doesn’t melt and accumulates in pockets, building year after year, until it compresses and compacts from its own weight. The snow turns to ice and eventually gravity takes over and it begins to move downhill. Once the ice starts to move, it becomes a glacier.
As it moves, it drags rocks and debris along with it that carve away the bedrock and create deep glacial valleys. When the ice reaches lower elevations it begins to melt, revealing the bedrock and leaving behind the debris, called terminal moraine. Some of the moraine is still in rock form but most of it has been ground into a fine grey powder, much like talcum.
On the surface, it’s an ugly sight to behold. But it’s here that the real beauty of Reid Inlet lies – in the rawness of the new earth and the beginning of life. It’s a simple matter of looking.
Note: This blog was written on
Wednesday, 08 July 2015 from Reid Inlet after spending two nights at anchor inside the inlet.