Save 20% on Awesome and Plus accounts with Our A+ Back to School Sale Upgrade now

This photograph is so meaningful to me on a personal level that I'm certainly not objective when assessing its universal value, but I still believe it communicates an incredible amount of wonder to viewers whether or not they can partially grasp the magnitude of what they're seeing in the image. I've processed many versions of the photo over the years, and I feel that the technical challenges are most fully overcome in this latest iteration.

There was a cave under the west side of the Mendenhall Glacier that was practically perfect in every way. It was wonderfully luminous because the the stream that it followed dropped on a relatively gentle slope under the ice and the ice itself was fairly thin near the terminus of the glacier. The cave had fascinating features that seemed to appear out of the blue just when you were getting too familiar with what it had to offer. It was so accessible that I could visit almost on a whim, and I did so often.

But the view in this photo was the cave's crowning glory. This ballroom with a sapphire ceiling and liquid floor opened up almost literally overnight. I was there only a couple days earlier when the ice came down like a wall to the place I stood to make this photo. The water, though it was practically impossible for us to believe at the time, is actually part of the Mendenhall Lake. In most sub-glacial caves I'm completely convinced of my safety under the ice, which is actually flexible under the intense pressure, but this position was dangerous. I watched sofa sized pieces of ice break off the ceiling on the far side of the cavern and crash into the lake.

The dynamic breakup continued over the coming months, and in short order, the cave that had been a hundred yard deep or more was nothing but an arch, and then it was gone. My photos don't do the place justice, and my memories have faded, but I was there. What a blessing that I was there!

Discover more inspiring photos like this one.

Download the FREE 500px app Open in app