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25 July, 2000

July 25, 2000

Matanuska Glacier, Alaska

It appeared this morning that our short streak of good weather was about to end as low clouds covered the mountains. By about 10:00 however the clouds were burnt off by the sun and itís been a very warm and beautiful day once again. It would have been perfect for going out on the ice for work but instead we made the trip once again to Wasilla for laundry, showers and groceries. Iím hoping for this weather to continue for awhile. Itís getting to the point where the temperatures are beginning to go down for the summer. I noticed quite a few high mountains with new snow on the way to town today. Iíve also begun closing the windows on my tent part way on some cooler nights. Even the mosquitoes and other bugs have been noticeably less of a problem. The glacier itself is not producing nearly as much meltwater and the steams are much lower as a result. Yesterday on the ice I even noticed that some surface water on the glacier had frozen overnight.

It also seems that it may not be long before it gets truly dark at night. A number of us were up sitting around the campfire a couple nights ago talking over all sorts of topics until 1:30 in the morning. It was still light enough to see everything around you very well, although too dark to really make out colors very well. At the same time the sky was too bright to be able to see any stars. Even the brighter stars could not be seen. The sun is setting behind the mountains to the west at about 9:45 now and the taller peaks may still be sunlit until nearly 11:30 or so. Itís very easy to lose track of what time it is when it stays light so late. Itís not unusual for someone to suddenly realize the time and then head off to their tent to go to sleep. Itís really interesting to watch the light from a sunset grow dimmer and move from the northwest and into the north. Eventually it would brighten and continue to the east as a sunrise but Iíve not stayed up that late or gotten up that early to see it yet. Iíve been told that it ought to get dark enough before I leave to see the northern lights. That is one experience that Iíd really like to have before I leave. Even if it does get dark enough I will still have to rely on the chance of it happening. But at least that chance is good up here. In my entire lifetime, in spite of always living out in the country away from city lights, Iíve only seen the northern lights in Indiana once. Iíve been told they are absolutely spectacular here at times.

Marvin Giesting

Directly across from camp we can see some of the higher peaks of the Chugach Mountains. It is interesting to watch the lower elevations get greener as the taller peaks return to their snow covewred beauty. The snowfields up there feed many glaciers in these mountains including the Matanuska.

A good view of the glacier terminus can be seen from higher up a mountain on the north side in the Teklaneeka Mountains. Low clouds like this are very common in the mornings. Some days they burn off and sunshine returns and other days they remain and threaten on and off light rain. The glacier is about four miles wide in this valley at the terminus here.

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