It has the reputation of being in one of the most remote parts of Alaska in the United States, and if that wasn’t enough to grab my attention, the deal was “sweetened” with a warning that it would be freezing cold with heavy snow in the mountains, even in the summer season.
As the name suggests, Trimble Glacier is a glacier with landscapes resembling sets from Hollywood-made alien movies. The only way to reach it is to hike up the treacherous terrain and risk getting lost in the snow, or alternatively, fly up there on a helicopter.
This was no place to be a hero because this American state is huge, wild and the unpredictable weather can be unforgiving, if not deadly.
While I’ve always informed myself of my travel destinations through research, there was just too little information on this mountain-top glacier, beyond the “about 200 miles northwest of Anchorage, Alaska” excerpt, which seemed most intriguing.
I was promised amazing sights and the possibility of seeing mountain bears, wolves and whales in the deep forests, surrounding lakes and coastline, but what I was after was the amazing turquoise streams that filled the craters on the sprawling glaciers.
“You won’t regret it. You will see incredible haunting landscapes that you have never seen.
“Besides, if you get fed up, we will just get out of the forest and look for Sarah Palin at Anchorage. The cowboy town is so small that everyone knows each other,” my American host teased.
Palin is an American politician, commentator, author, and reality television personality, who was also Alaskan governor from 2006 until her resignation in 2009.
The controversial right-wing politician was once a Republican nominee for US Vice President in the 2008 election.
I assured the host that the last thing I wanted was to meet a politician as I was on vacation, and not on a working trip.
Trimble Glacier was named by a US Geological Survey in 1961 for topographer Kelley W. Trimble, who conducted the first topographic survey of the area.
Facets about the glacier, which sits on the Tordrillo Mountains, seemed to be mainly on coordinates – crucial details that excite helicopter pilots and rescue teams.
The glacier is described as being close to Entrance Point and Dickson Mountain, but again, this info was meaningless to me since I had no plans to take a geography exam on Alaska.
My party and I went on a two-hour helicopter ride from Anchorage to reach the glaciers, a trip we were told was “definitely off the beaten track”.
The pilot drew a blank when told we were Malaysians and I could tell he pretended to know but didn’t want to display his ignorance. Most Americans, after all, have never travelled outside their country.
But there’s little need for small talk when flying in a helicopter and soon, we were soaring over the rolling hills and their sharp, jagged peaks, all part of the vast and rugged Alaskan back country.
It was strange to fly over miles and miles of endless snow-covered land in summer, a climate which made sure we were tightly bundled up because of the blasting cold on the mountain tops.
What an incredible sight greeted me as I saw mesmerising landscapes of snow-capped rocks, blue ice and of course, jaw-dropping scenes of turquoise streams.
It’s blue, or turquoise, because the glacier’s dense ice absorbs every other colour of the spectrum except for blue (which is what we see), according to a report from Nasa’s Alaska Satellite Facility.
“Sometimes, the glacial ice appears almost turquoise. Its crystalline structure strongly scatters blue light.
“The ice on a glacier has been there for a really long time and has been compacted down so that its structure is pretty different from the ice you normally see. Glacial ice is a lot different from the frozen water you get out of the freezer.”
Together with two younger members of the party, we hopped on a raft and rowed to the middle of the stream.
I’m not sure if we did the right thing on the glacier as they can be dangerous in so many ways. Walking too close to a glacier can be hazardous, too, I read after returning to Kuala Lumpur.
But as the initial excitement settled, I sat on the snowy ground and just let my mind capture the imagery a camera never could.
Seeing the perfect shades of blue, soaring peaks and blue skies in this exquisitely remote place was simply mind blowing. I never imagined that I’d one day be looking for a glacier and playing the mad adventurer.
If the visuals already stretched the imagination, then finding out later that there are over 600 officially named glaciers in Alaska, and many more unnamed ones, was more than I could process. The Alaska Almanac estimates that Alaska has 100,000 glaciers.
A glacier is simply a large area of thick ice that remains frozen from one year to the next, and often, even centuries. Thousands of years ago, about 30% of Earth’s surface was covered by glaciers, reads a report.
Walking on the surface of the Trimble Glacier wasn’t easy, and while we didn’t want to admit we were mere tourists, preferring a more rugged identity, that’s exactly what we were.
The organisers had a Husky station up on the mountain, and the sledges were all ready to take us in comfort around the untouched frozen wilderness.
This was indeed an icy world, but what an incredible beauty it is, and in one of the most remote parts of the world, no less. And my cup of steaming coffee never tasted so good.
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