June 16, 2012 Off to the Aufeis!
Aufeis tonight! Meet at the dining hall at 7:30. I've seen it on the announcement board and missed it several evenings, but this past Thursday after dinner everything fell in place for me to join the group to see the aufeis! Another "wow" hike!
We drove south on the Dalton Highway down to the turn-off for Galbraith Lake. What a treat to get to see a red fox hunting in the tundra alongside the road!
Finally, we were all set to go for our walk
Aufeis is a German word meaning "ice on top". Ice forms on top of the stream as winter begins, and new water continues to freeze over throughout the winter. The result is a thick blanket of ice, layer upon layer, with a beautiful blue hue! The ice towered well above us in many places where we could weave in between the cracked chunks and walk alongside the stream.
It rained on us a little bit, which seemed to make the colors really stand out
and created a wonderful rainbow
In this photo you can barely make out the double rainbow; at one point in the evening it morphed into an amazing but photographically elusive triple rainbow!
We were able to fit under some of the ice formations and look up at the blue sky above
and with a little help from some friends, crawl up onto an ice shelf
I even made it!
We finally needed to start heading back to the trucks, and I really enjoyed the evening light and clouds across the aufeis surface
Back in the Smokies, my friends can attest I'm not often this active at 10 pm at night!
Most recent visitors to the aufeis have come back reporting sightings of a wolf. Nick LaFave, PolarTREC teacher, got a great picture of one just last week on his trip there. You can check it out at his link at http://www.polartrec.com/. I was a little disappointed to not see one, too. Fortunately, a fellow researcher's tundra cam caught this amazing picture of a wolf, so that will certainly do for now!
I hope you enjoyed the photos, and hopefully you will have the opportunity to get out and do something fun and out of your routine this week!