September 19, 2006

I am Iceman

Define irony: Taking half an hour to track down ice for my baggie to ice my knees after this mornings jog, when a mere half-mile across the water from me is several hundred cubic miles of the stuff, some of it tens of thousands of years old.

This morning's run was on deck, twelve laps, as we putt-putted into the harbor where the great Hubbard Glacier empties out. The first six laps - two miles - was nothing short of fantastic: nice brisk pace, easy footing on wet teak, not too many morning walkers. But I did have to contend with a pretty good rolling of the ship and it might be because of that that my knees started giving me trouble on the seventh lap. More walkers also hit the deck, and thankfully most of them go in the standard counter-clockwise direction (the regular-exercisers among us just seem to do this naturally); but there was one group of four little old ladies who had to go against the grain. (You don't know it, but I made a joke there, seeing as how the deck is made of wood...okay, pretty weak, I admit) I pushed on through to finish four miles and then went below to find some ice.

When I came up, we were pushing through lines of broken ice slurry and approaching the six-mile-long face of Hubbard glacier. While much of the ice is white or a dirty brown, quite a bit of it is an astonishing jewel blue - a product, I'm told, of centuries of crushing all the air out of the ice, which results in the ice reflecting only the blue spectrum back at the viewer. It was perhaps most interesting to see it up close as the ship passed large chunks (not quite icebergs) in the water and I had binoculars to really magnify the view. We spent a few hours looking at the glacier and I got to see many calvings, which fall off the glacier after a crack propogates ultra-quickly through the ice with the sound of a distant cannon boom.

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