Susan C. Anthony

Terminus of Hubbard GlacierHubbard Glacier

May 25, 2006

A large high-pressure zone hovered over the state in May 2006. We were busy with regular spring yard and house work, but when day after day dawned bright and beautiful, we dropped everything and packed for a camping trip in the plane. We flew to the Cordova city strip, gassed up, and continued on down the coast toward Yakutat, a place we'd never been before.

We camped at the airport in Yakutat, explored the town, and decided with worsening weather predicted it would be better to head north from there. Had the weather remained clear for a few more days, we would have flown all the way to Juneau to visit grandkids!

I'd wanted to see Hubbard Glacier since August 1986, when it made news by surging to create an ice dam that turned Russell Fjord into the largest glacier-dammed lake in the recorded history of North America. Hundreds of sea mammals were trapped and scores of animal lovers arrived to try to "save" them. The animals actually did a pretty good job of saving themselves by climbing up and over the land.  The glacier retreated again before too much time passed.

Hubbard is the largest tidewater glacier on the North American continent. Unlike most glaciers, it has advanced and thickened since it was first mapped in 1895. The calving face rises as high as 100 meters above sea level and is 11.4 km in length. The tidal flow past this narrow spot into the fjord can reach 16 knots.

We continued up the glacier to the vast Bagley Icefield and flew through the Wrangell Mountains toward McCarthy. McCarthy was built in the early 1900s to house workers for the then-huge copper mine that opened the Interior of Alaska. We camped near a lovely grass airstrip and visited town the following day. We didn't make it to Kennicott on this trip. The bad weather that had prevented us from continuing south moved into the Interior and we raced it home. The best place to be during bad weather is home, not tenting in wind and rain, and for sure not aloft in a small plane!

Go on to read Grounded in Paradise
Source:, ┬ęSusan C. Anthony