National Geographic : 1910 Jan
THE NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE ground are the snowfields, giving rise to a series of cascading glaciers, typically crevassed, which flow down the steep slopes of the cirque-like valley. The contributions of these cascading glaciers form the main stream of the valley gla cier below, showing white, crevassed ice at its upper end. As this glacier emerges from between the mountain walls, how ever, it expands, its crevassing disappears, and in the middle distance of the picture the ice surface is already thickly mantled with ablation moraine (an accumulation of earth and rocks). In the immediate foreground the ablation material has buried the ice so deeply that one would hardly suspect that there was ice under neath. Vegetation has gained a foothold, and the only sign to betray the inert glacier below is the occasional slumping induced by its very slow melting. In Yakutat Bay and its extensions there is, except on the low ocean fore land, an entire absence of forest growth a condition accounted for by the recency of the glaciation. When working here the outdoor photographer comes to real ize how much he is dependent on trees to lend grace and softness to his compo sitions. The succession of pictures that he secures in this wonderful region are monotonous, harsh, and forbidding, be cause they so much lack the soft shadows and the graceful contours furnished by the forest citizens of other climes. In Prince William Sound, however, especially in the region about the Colum bia glacier, a forest of spruce and cedar advances close to the ice margin. A thick turf of peat covers the floor of these woods, and this peat in turn is dotted with little lakelets which have their edges hemmed with bright flowers. When climbing the slopes of the moun tains of this neighborhood one is afforded most interesting vistas of water, woods, ice, and snow through the forest glades and lanes. I have been informed that Curtis, the famous photographer of Indians, intends eventually to picture the Alaskan natives. He will find some very interesting mate rial in the neighborhood where we worked. At Yakutat, however, the Thlinkets have been in contact with the white man so long that typical studies are difficult to secure. At Dry Bay, a village to the south, a tribe of the same nation still live in their primitive environ ment, and probably do not demand a fee of "two bits" (25 cents) when asked to pose, as is customary at Yakutat. If the fee is not forthcoming the women will cover their faces and run. The children, however, are more docile and afford some interesting studies. To the untutored mind this desire on part of the white man to secure many pictures of everything with which he comes in contact must present a perplex ing problem. This was indicated by the attitude of our Japanese cook. On each favorable day we would leave camp early in the morning, taking with us our cameras and instruments. But on our return late in the evening we brought back no gold or trophies of the hunt. The cook's curiosity was aroused to such a pitch that he begged permission to ac company us on one of our trips. This proved to be a hard morning's work, climbing over mountain spurs and strug gling through alder thickets. At noon we came to a glacier front, set down some notes, exposed a number of plates, ate a light luncheon, and prepared to return. That was too much for the cook; he burst out: "Walk so long-so hard trip-only picture take! Mak' me sick!" In conclusion I would emphasize this caution: Do not attempt to carry exposed but undeveloped plates or films back to civilization from a region whose humid ity is equal to that of the southeast coast of Alaska. Only a few will develop up as perfect negatives. Most will be mealy. or, worse, be peppered with opaque spots the size of a pinhead, whose origin is difficult to explain. Develop in the field, and as soon as possible after exposure.