Most people think of ice when they think of a glacier, but let me tell you, there’s a lot more to it than that! There’s ice, rock and SLUDGE! For lack of a better word, yes, I’ll call it sludge. It’s a thick, grey mud-like substance that was almost the end of me! These glaciers are awe-inspiring. The type of beauty that the eyes don’t tire of looking at…like a sunset, you just stare at them with wonder and in awe of their beauty, their power. But I have found a dark side to her – this living, moving beast that carves these huge valleys and turn rock into a powdery ash. It’s this powdery ash-like substance that, with water, makes the vicious and evil sludge!
I arrived at the Matanuska Glacier a couple of hours north of Anchorage. Awesome! What a great first place to set up camp and enjoy this vast and powerful landscape. In the morning, I ventured out to get closer to the ice, following the raging grey waters that were pouring out from the underbelly of this gigantic ice cube, Mother Natures refrigerator, and the SOURCE of raging rivers. WOW. Reaching a dead end that was a deep crevasse, I cut around and had my first encounter with sludge, when I stepped and my foot quickly disappeared. “QUICKSAND!” my mind shouted. That first day was a slight meeting with her, but it was a week later when I returned to shoot her again did she show her dark side and try to swallow me whole. This time I had ventured out by myself in the evening. I had told my buddy, “If I’m not back by 10pm, send in the search party,” not realizing the possible irony. 15 minutes later I had reached a dead end, trying to work my way into the folds of the ice to get some abstract perspectives. The landscape had already changed in a week, and suddenly I found myself surrounded. My first step into this new enemy had me nearly waist deep…okay okay, maybe it was just over my boot closer to ankle deep, but it was freaky! Step after step, I would sink ankle high, and even with my high top laced boots, she was trying to pry them from my innocent feet. Had I stopped and stood there, I feel fairly certain I would keep sinking away into her abyss! I could see the orange cones that marked the “proper trail”. It was 200 yards away. That became the longest 200 yards I’ve ever passed and I was really freaked. I was sure I was going to be swallowed by sludge or the earth would crack open and swallow me whole! After much drama unfolding in my mind, I finally made it to the trail and managed to keep my life!, and my boots (although they’ll never be the same and will never walk through this again!!) But then I arrived at the ICE. I’m not sure this was much better…or maybe I had just completely psyched myself out, because I could so clearly visualize this cracking open and taking me to a slow and cold demise!