We finished the 5.5 hour drive from Anchorage to arrive to a rainy Valdez. We ended up renting a cabin instead of getting our tent wet, which we said was for Duane’s comfort. We may have benefited a little bit too.
We took a guided kayak tour of Valdez Glacier Lake through Anadyr Adventures. Our guide, Dalton, was super knowledgeable about the geology and history of the area and was highly entertaining to listen to.
Valdez Glacier Lake is purely fed by melting glacial ice, so it’s freshwater. It’s completely calm (when its icebergs aren’t breaking apart), and high silt content makes it impossible for sunlight to penetrate to the bottom, so there are no plants or animals in the lake water.
Allison Sayer wrote a great article about this glacial lake for the Seward City News. Here’s the link, followed by an excerpt if you don’t want to read the whole article:
“The Valdez Glacier Lake formed in a few stages. Over a long period of time, rocks embedded in the glacier scoured out a depression underneath the ice. Then, as the ice melted, water filled the depression. Now, the ice lies on one side of the lake and the old terminal moraine lies on the other. The old terminal moraine, a large pile of rocky debris, helps create a dam between the lake and the ocean.
There was no lake when the Valdez Glacier first attracted thousands of would be prospectors from all over the world to the site of Old Town Valdez. The glacier’s terminus was much closer to the ocean. Prospectors were lured by rumors they could cross the glacier easily and ultimately reach the Klondike. The route’s merits were greatly exaggerated, and many prospectors died in the attempt. Many more were seriously hurt or lost all of their possessions. The original town of Valdez was born out of this debacle.”
We got to dock our kayaks right on Valdez Glacier and go for a hike and eat lunch on the glacier. It’s covered in rocks from the mountain that it’s been sliding down from for 10,000 years. The rocks sit on the surface of the ice, kind of like they’re glued in there. Dalton took us hiking all over the glacier and showed us areas where meltwater drills spiral holes in the ice, leading down into the lake beneath the glacier. If you were careless or maybe drunk, you could slip down one of these holes into icy cold oblivion.
In the one of the photos below, you can see the little pyramid-shaped dirt/rock formations that are formed by the way the meltwater travels through the ice before it melts down to the level it’s at now.