Deep in the heart of Southeast Alaska, the aqua blue icebergs of Le Conte Fjord crackle. Unlike one would imagine, it sounds more like popcorn popping than ice crust cracking. Just as we drift away from the towering iceberg, an enormous chunk of ice falls off its face, plunging into the depth of the water. This time, the crackling lets out a loud roar, echoing in the distance.
We are at the mouth of Le Conte Fjord, a narrow inlet that leads to the Le Conte Glacier. As part of our 7-day Alaska itinerary, we are visiting the southernmost calving glacier in the Northern hemisphere. What we’re seeing in front of us are shooters – massive submarine icebergs dramatically rising to the water surface.
These bergs had broken off the glacier and floated 11 miles to where we were. LeConte Glaciers’ calving events produce a phenomenal collection of bergs, which explains why we are literally surrounded by gigantic icebergs.
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Earlier that morning, when we had just arrived to iceberg-infested waters, the entire group of us – made up of journalists and photographers – had our ultra-long lenses and obscenely-massive cameras ready, shooting non-stop like a firing squad. In the vast wilderness, there was silence except for camera clicks and the trickling sounds of water dripping off the bergs. But despite our occupational obsession, it didn’t take long before the overwhelming beauty of our surrounding snapped us out of our daze. We could now only stare with a child-like wonder.
Works of Mother Nature
As we inch closely to the blocks of ice, our naturalist Kevin tells us, “Some of this ice might be as old as 500 years old. Most of them are rooted to the ground, that’s why we call them submarine icebergs.” I stare down through the transparent waters to see giant slabs of ice beneath me – within them are oddly shaped bubbles.
“That’s silt inside those bubbles,” Kevin explains, “When this iceberg calved off the glacier, it carried with it some earth and snow. The snow had obviously melted, but the silt remained.” I can’t even begin to calculate how old the silt must be…
We continue the journey on our skiffs circling the icy playground, with each of our group members staring wide-eyed at the glassy bergs, like children in a candy store. Our candy store literally comes alive when Kevin reaches out to grab a piece of ice off a berg and throws it right into his mouth. One by one, we bite a chunk off the 500-year-old ice and savor the slice of Mother Nature in bewilderment.
Gallery-hopping in the Wild
We soon find ourselves entering an art gallery of some sorts: naturally-sculpted icebergs resembling artistic masterpieces are on display. “That one looks like a duck!” One of my group mates points out. We start using our imaginations, and one after another, the icebergs are transformed into imaginary objects. As the sun shines down on us, each of the bergs, unique in shape and formation, takes on a different shade of blue.
Colors in the Skies
Leaving LeConte Bay behind, we hop back onto our yacht cruise to continue on our Southeast Alaska expedition and head further into Alaska´s Inside Passage, one of the best places to visit in winter in USA. That night, after a blissful Alaskan feast, we watch as colors dance in the skies. The dark sky, now lit up by the midnight sun, is transformed into a shade of grey and green. We were told that chances of catching the Northern Lights at this time of the year were very slim, but look how it turned out.
The iceberg tour was part of the InnerSea Discoveries. Stay tuned for more updates on my adventures in Southeast Alaska.
Disclaimer: My experience was sponsored by American Safari Cruises and InnerSea Discoveries, but all opinions are my own.