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Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

  • Author: Alison
  • Date Posted: Aug 17, 2019
  • Category: ,
  • Address: Glacier Bay National Park

We left Foxy in Juneau and took the ferry over to Glacier Bay National Park to spend two nights in the lodge there. The bay was carved by a huge glacier that has advanced and receded within the past 250 years. Everything that is on land today is only a few hundred years old, as is the huge ocean inlet that borders the park. Lots of interesting history with the Tlingit culture which has used the land since before the glacier advanced and is now working with the National Park Service to reinstate traditional uses within the park boundaries.


Hiking along the beach. The fog here is spectacular. It appears and disappears very quickly.


Mussels and barnacles are among the species that have adapted to store water to survive being on shore through low tide.


So happy to have our head nets! Lots of buggers on the beach!


Sea Lion! It was so quiet in the park that every sound seemed amplified, including this guy taking big deep breaths every time he surfaced.

A traditional Tlingit kootéeyaa (totem pole).


Glacier Bay Lodge.


The climate is so wet that moss grows everywhere! In the trees…

…and on the ground.

Tlingit trail marker.

On our last day we rented a kayak to explore the bay. The weather started out pretty clear, we could even just make out the snowy peaks in the Fairweather Range (above the fog bank in this photo).


But the fog quickly rolled in the further up the bay we traveled.


Kelp forests.


Hard to tell where the water ends and the sky begins! We had to keep to the shoreline the whole time. Wouldn’t want to paddle too far into that fog.


Jellyfish!


Great paddle adventure before a 4.5 hour ferry ride back to Juneau.


And the healing totem. This recent collaboration between the Tlingit and the National Park Service tells the story of their rocky and still evolving relationship. The Tlingit used the area that is now Bartlett Cove (in southern Glacier Bay) until the glacier advanced in the 1700’s burying the land and their villages under almost a mile of ice. As the glacier retreated, they returned to these traditional hunting and gathering grounds. At the same time, conservationists, including John Muir, were lobbying for the preservation of Glacier Bay. When the area was designated a National Monument in 1925, the Tlingit were informed that they land was no longer open to their traditional uses. The loss of their traditional lands, not once, but twice, and the current state of the relationship between the NPS and Tlingit are depicted.

Read from the bottom up: Traditional foods gathered in the “breadbasket” of Glacier Bay (gull eggs, sea lion, salmon). The face of the glacier crushing in on the village structures. Fleeing the advancing glacier in boats. Returning to harvest and dry salmon, and establish fishing villages after the glacier’s retreat. Arrival of the “faceless, soul-less, being with many hands” a.k.a. the federal government who barred the Tlingit from their lands. Two Tlingit faces with tears (which are not visible in the photo) depicting the things they lost (crabs, halibut, gull eggs) and surrounded by rough seas. Then a blank scroll representing the start of dialog between the NPS and the Tlingit, surrounded by still rocky, but slightly calmer seas with the traditional fishing boats returning. Finally the arms of a Tlingit and a park ranger holding aloft the newly built Tlingit Tribal House in the park.

It seems as though there is still much work to be done on the relationship, but in recent years there is certainly more consideration being given to the cultural and long-standing usage of the land by the Tlingit. They are starting to reinstate traditional harvests, and use the land for communal gatherings. You can see more about the installation of the healing totem here: www.nps.gov/glba/learn/news/healingtotem.htm

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    1 Comment

  1. Love the adventures here. Great cultural interest. Glad to hear that Foxy fit on the ferry. Very nice!

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