Nature Notes

Vol. XII December, 1934 No. 12

Noted last summer from Yakima Park

At the close of the season, it is perhaps wise to take cognizance of the things that have taken place during the past summer. One of the outstanding observations that can be made this year is the extent of the melting and erosion of the snow mantle of the mountain, The early spring and warm summer season have caused terrific down tearing of the mountain proper. Last winter's snows have long since been melted, and those of several previous seasons considerably diminished. Many new out-croppings of the basic lava show through the ice flows, while the general depth of the ice mantle is considerably less than in years past.

The mighty and majestic Emmons is being divided by a sharp cleaver of rock extending nearly to the 10,500 foot elevation, which in time will form two distinct glaciers. Even now it has a distinct secondary snout at about the 6,500 foot contour area. The waters from this snout at first flowed over the ice below, finally cutting a deep channel for several hundred feet then sinking out of sight to join the melting waters beneath.

These rivers that find their source from the melting ice of the glaciers also show mute evidence of the terrific erosion that has occurred from the ice carving of those long tongues of compact ice. The waters have been of near chocolate color as they bear the mud and glacial flour in their mad rush to the Sound. Even long distances from the source, one can distinctly hear the dull thud of large glacial boulders bounding together as the force of the rushing waters pushes them on.

The upper surfaces of the glaciers are rugged and deeply fissured with fantastic patterns produced by the yawning crevasses that have been made by the excessive melting and slipping of the ice. Beautiful ice cascades portray the rugged surface of the lava flows underneath while sharp cleavers tell of the difference in hardness of the rock floor over which these rivers flow.

As one stands on the high promontory at the apex of the rock cleaver called "Steamboat Prow", and views the great sea of ice which feeds those two rugged glaciers, the Emmons and the Winthrop, he feels that he is standing on the bow of a great ship that is plowing its way through a mighty ice barrier. The ice is rent with deep fissures and gnarled vortices with foaming cascades completing the magnificent display unfurled there before the gaze.

Earl Y. Danner,
Ranger-naturalist, Season 1934

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