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The color of glacial lakes through seasons

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The color of glacial lakes through seasons

Postby schmalz » Mon Apr 15, 2013 11:10 am

I have a quick question. Does anyone know if Sierra glacial lakes go through a pattern with their color turning more, or less aqua as the snow melts?

Specifically, if I were to go to say, second lake near Big Pine, would there be an ideal part of the season to go if you wanted to see the lake at its peak aqua color?



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Re: The color of glacial lakes through seasons

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 15, 2013 12:53 pm

I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: The color of glacial lakes through seasons

Postby schmalz » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:08 pm

maverick wrote:This has some info that will help: http://www.glacierchange.org/2012/03/wh ... a-glacier/


I read through that and unfortunately I don't have a better grasp on the answer to my initial question.
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Re: The color of glacial lakes through seasons

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:44 pm

I think I understand it, but I have to say that this is only my best guess: I do know that the color has to do with glacial milk, which is found in the melt water from a glacier, so I would guess that the best time to see a lake at it's prime color is after the spring melt, when the lake would have the most milk near the surface, making it more milky than aqua, and before it all settles to the bottom. I think when the milk has partially (but not totally) settled is the best time to see a lake in all of its aqua glory. I think this would vary a lot every year, depending on the amount of snow, how hot the temps get in the spring, etc. Again, I'm not a scientist of any kind, but I have seen my share of milk-filled lakes and rivers in Alaska and Canada, and their color tends to depend heavily on the time of year and the snowpack from the previous winter.
Last edited by Fly Guy Dave on Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The color of glacial lakes through seasons

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 15, 2013 1:59 pm

Have found on my visits to this area that the most pronounced emerald green
can be had from viewing the lakes from the ridge (east of Sam Mack Lake) on
the Palisades Glacier Trail. Varying conditions as in lighting, angles of the
viewer to the lake, and time of day, can make a huge difference obtaining the
optimal emerald color.
http://www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_flour
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: The color of glacial lakes through seasons

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:11 pm

Here's a link to a simplified explanation, much more scientific and authoritative than my poor attempt at explaining this phenomenon. http://formontana.net/cracker.html
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Re: The color of glacial lakes through seasons

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:40 pm

If you analyze this photo collection or others on-line you will see that the time
of day, cloud cover, angle of view, and the time of year all will greatly influence
the end results. https://www.google.com/search?q=big+pin ... 12#imgrc=_
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: The color of glacial lakes through seasons

Postby schmalz » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:48 pm

Yep. I even see one of my photos on that page! I'm just interested in figuring out how to maximize the potential. My suspicions regarding time of year have been backed up by Fly Guy Dave (go right after the majority of snowmelt). I'm curious if you or anyone else has specific thoughts on time of day, angle of light, etc that are conducive to seeing the color.
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Re: The color of glacial lakes through seasons

Postby maverick » Mon Apr 15, 2013 2:57 pm

Schmalz wrote:
I'm curious if you or anyone else has specific thoughts on time of day, angle of light, etc
that are conducive to seeing the color.


Yes I do, and have done this by trial and error, and using various ideas, scientific and
non-scientific.
Learning and doing the research oneself makes one a better photographer. :D
I don't give out specific route information, my belief is that it takes away from the whole adventure spirit of a trip, if you need every inch planned out, you'll have to get that from someone else.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: The color of glacial lakes through seasons

Postby oldranger » Wed Nov 18, 2015 7:40 pm

While looking for another thread I came across this one. While in Canada this summer one of the info signs at one of the lakes subject to glacial silt indicated that lakes are at their clearest right after ice out, then as temps increase and glaciers increase their rate of melt the water becomes less clear and more cloudy.
One lake I visited, Maligne, was quite clear near the outlet but 13 miles up lake was turquoise. Obviously the actual appearance varies by time of day and weather conditions as well.

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