Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Twilight for the Bayside Glacier

A couple of months ago I wrote about the Bayside Glacier, a three-story-high pile of snow formed by the plowing activities of Portland's Public Works Department.

Two months of spring weather have taken a big toll on Portland's last relic of the recent ice age. Compare the top left photo from March to the bottom right photo taken last weekend. The bulldozer, an important agent in the glacier's genesis and growth, provides a sense of scale.

As was noted previously, the glacier's ice had collected a good deal of debris as it traveled across city streets. Now, as the top layers of ice melt away, that debris is being deposited in a scattered "terminal moraine" of garbage at the melted edges of the glacier.

The amount of garbage in the terminal moraine is so substantial that some Portland residents seem to have mistaken it for a new city dump, and left their own deposits of heavier trash in the same place:

In this photograph, the melting glacier reveals the layers that scribe its formation: there, above the yellow trash bag, for example, is the stratum of the Valentine's Day storm. Rising above the conglomerate of ice and trash is the marquee of Portland's new Whole Foods Market (right) and the piles of scrap metal at E. Perry Metal Recycling (left).

Alpinists traveling over the surface of the glacier should exercise extreme caution, as the melting opens up hazardous crevasses that gape beneath the surface. I made sure that my footing was extremely secure before I took the photograph at right.


Patrick Ian Banks said...

I just walked by there today and there are still a few grubby patches of ice still hanging on, albeit just barely. I decided the boggy field a bit. Bad idea - I almost lost a flip flop. (Hey, that patch of mud looked solid.) Anyway, I just wanted to say that was some good nature writing.

Patrick Ian Banks said...

Oh dear, I meant to say I decided to explore the boggy field a bit. I don't know why I forgot the word "explore" in the original comment, but I did. Carry on.