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Off the Editor’s Desk – 6-11-2014

I would like to spend the next several weeks telling about our vacation and hope to do it without boring you all.

We spent seven days aboard the Norwegian Cruise ship, Pearl and traveled some 2500 miles from Seattle north to Alaska with stops at Juneau, Skagway, Ketchikan and Victoria, Canada. Part of the cruise took us into Glacier Bay for views of this magnificent landscape of sea, mountains and ice.

First I must note that the ship carried some 2,800 passengers and I figured that for three-quarters of those aboard, English was not their first language. But everybody seemed to get along very well and that should be an example for our world leaders.

I would like to give you some information about Glacier Bay from a pamphlet that was supplied to us from the U. S. Department of Interior. Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve is some 3.3 million acres in size and is part of the 25-million acre World Heritage Site that covers part of Alaska and Canada.

Glacier Bay today is the product of the Little Ice Age, a geologically recent glacial advance. In about 1680 Huna Tlingit, a tribe of native people harvested salmon at a summer fish camp. “From spring through fall they traveled widely, harvesting the resources they needed to sustain them through the long winter. Their landscape was very different from today’s marine bay. It was a grassy valley with salmon rich streams and scattered forests. Looming in the distance, a great glacier sits dormant, pausing before the cataclysmic advance that will force these people from their homes.” By 1750 the glacier had reached its maximum, covering 65 miles of that valley. The Glacier would back off by 45 miles by 1879 and today is a far cry from what it was 260 years ago. Where there was a rich valley that supported those native people, today is a deep salt-water bay that is up to 1,000 feet deep. That shows the force of an advancing glacier that it was able to dig such a big hole.

The Tlingit returned as the ice retreated and today claim Glacier Bay as their spiritual homeland. In Glacier Bay some of the glaciers are growing while others are retreating.

I was very interested to learn how fast the ice came and went over that 260- year period. Is it just the cycles that the earth has, or is it global warming that caused the ice to advance and then retreat?

A picture of one the glaciers can be found on the back page of this issue.

Thanks for reading. — Carlton