Photoblog: Walking on Ice at Baird Glacier, Southeast Alaska

Posted on September 23, 2010 by

The cold glacial wind howls ferociously as our skiff races towards the imposing Baird Glacier. In the distance, the giant slab of white crusty ice seems to crackle with rage. As our group of travelers land on the rocky beach, we find ourselves on a seemingly different planet. Oddly-shaped giant pebbles strewn all over the alien terrain, carpeted by green velvety moss: a setting resembling Mars more so than Planet Earth.

Day 2 of our Southeast Alaska expedition and we have already kayaked through a narrow fjord, watch a pod of whales breach simultaneously and now, we’re hiking up an icy glacier. Someone pinch me please.

Hiking towards Baird Glacier, Alaska

Bay of Death

The previous evening, we had sailed through Frederick Sound into Thomas Bay. The legendary bay is also known as “The Bay of Death” due to a massive landslide that buried an entire native Tlingit village in 1750. Later on around 1900, several people claimed to have seen devil creatures in the area, thereby giving the bay another nickname, “the Devil’s Country”.

Thomas Bay, Southeast Alaska

At Baird Glacier, we find ourselves walking on outwash plains and unearthly mud puddles. Meltwater and sub-glacial water in Thomas Bay had moved rock flour pebbles and larger rocks beyond the terminus to form this extraordinary terrain.

Walking on outwash plains at Baird Glacier

From Greenery to Ice

Making our way towards the glacier, the green rocky terrain quickly transforms into wet, spongy mud-baths that spring into life. Our guide Kevin tells us about the therapeutic use of the mud and demonstrates the use of it as a face-mask.

muddy terrain at Baird Glacier

Soon enough, we find ourselves walking on ice, errr, real ice. All of us are now ice-skating on the slippery surface, slipping and falling to each other’s amusement. A layer of silt covers the crusty ice, but once we examine what’s underneath, we can see clear blue water running in the form of mini-waterfalls right under our feet.

waterfalls running underneath the ice

My first experience walking on ice: exhilarating and definitely one of a kind. So I’ve walked on an active volcano and now an icy glacier, what’s next?

Walking on ice, Baird Glacier

Baird Glacier, Thomas Bay


The glacier hike was part of the InnerSea Discoveries itinerary. 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.


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About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

8 Responses to “Photoblog: Walking on Ice at Baird Glacier, Southeast Alaska”

  1. Donna Hull September 23, 2010 8:34 pm #

    This was one of the best cruise excursions that I've ever experienced. Your photos and text are a vivid reminder. Nitakuwa, our guide, didn't show us the theraputic use of the mud, maybe that's we our group walked farther up the ice :-).

  2. Abi September 29, 2010 4:13 pm #

    Ah, I remember the green, velvety moss very fondly! Great post – a great reminder of a great day!


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