Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Day at an Alaskan Glacial Lake

Shakes Lake lies at the foot of Shakes Glacier.  The lake’s outlet drains into Shakes Slough located a little downstream from Chief Shakes Hot Springs along Alaska’s Stikine River.  It seems all that “shaking” stems from a Tlingit chief named Shakes and his successors, all conveniently named Chief Shakes. 

While we’ve often been to the next drainage north, LeConte Bay and Glacier, Karen and I had never seen Shakes anything.  The only ”road” into the area is liquid and lacking a river boat, we hadn’t made it that far into the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness area.

The visit by Karl and Mary Schneider ended that drought when we booked Summit Charters out of Wrangell for a half day Stikine River tour.  Besides the glacier, I particularly wanted to see a castle-shaped mountain that crowns Shakes Lake and Glacier, coincidentally named Castle Mountain.  I figure that while he had no connection with Alaska, the mountain must have been named after my maternal grandfather whose surname was Castle.  We didn’t see Castle Mountain.  A cloud got in the way -- a cloud that apparently covered the entire area between the Pacific Ocean to the west and Canada to the east and even beyond.

Never mind.  Shakes Glacier and the icebergs in Shakes Lake were ample inducement for Karen to utter her frequent mantra, “I want to go back?”


A wall of icebergs, once part of Shakes Glacier, seemingly blocks the entrance into Shakes Lake.  However,  captain John Taylor of Summit Charters wound his jet boat through the maze.

Dirt and rocks that fell onto Shakes Glacier over the past centuries gets a free ride on icebergs cruising down the lake.


Another example of the debris carried down the lake on the ice.  The outlet of Shakes Lake is too shallow for the icebergs to pass so when each berg eventually melts Shakes Lake becomes a little less deep.


However, don't worry about the lake filing up too soon.  The lake is still somewhere around 800 feet deep in front of Shakes Glacier.


A closer look at the "conveyor belt" carrying debris that fell off the Coast Range onto Shakes Glacier.


Karen photographs a valley that drains the Stikine Ice Field and supposedly somewhere up there, Castle Mountain.  The brown spot in the lower right hand side of the photo -- one of numerous mosquitoes that cunningly evaded swatting by landing on my camera lens. 


I'm not sure if Karen wants to go back because of the majesty of the scenery around Shakes Glacier or the Dwarf fireweed and Indian paintbrush flowers she found there.







3 comments:

Susan Christensen said...

I want to go, too!!!
amazing photos, thanks for the tour.
-sus

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