Ruth Glacier

The Ruth Glacier, in Denali National Park and Preserve in the U.S. state of Alaska, covers an enormous area in the heart of the central Alaska Range. Located about 3 miles vertically below the summit of Mt. McKinley, it catches all the snow that falls on the southeast side of the mountain, and as the accumulated snow and ice that makes up the glacier slides down the slope, it get squeezed through a one-mile-wide bottleneck of what is called the Great Gorge.

The Great Gorge is one of the most spectacular gorges on earth. It runs for a length of 16 km and drops almost 2,000 feet over the distance, creating a grade that forces the Ruth Glacier to descend at an impressive pace of a meter a day. On either side of the gorge are solid granite cliffs that tower 5,000 feet above the glacier's surface. The depth of the ice within the gorge is more than 3,800 feet. If the ice were to melt tomorrow, it could create an abyss 2.6 km deep or more than one-half times deeper than the Grand Canyon.

The mountain lining the walls of the Great Gorge rises sporadically into towering spires and has been given names such as Moose's Tooth, Broken Tooth, Bear Tooth and Wisdom Tooth, to name a few, and really look like animals' teeth. So immense are these spires that what appear to be tiny flakes on these walls are actually ledges wide enough to park a tractor trailer.

As the Ruth Glacier flows down a steeper gradient, it tears and fractures into a treacherous 10-square mile section known as the Ruth Ice Fall near the bottom of the Great Gorge. During summer after the snowmelt, this section becomes virtually impassable.


Blythe Intaglios - The Nazca Lines of United States

About 15 miles north of Blythe, just west of U.S. Highway 95 near the Colorado River, are a group of gigantic geoglyphs. There are a total of six distinct figures in three locations, including a human figure at each location and animal figures depicting serpents and quadrupeds at the other two sites. The largest human figure measures 171 feet from head to toe. But from the ground level, the figures are indiscernible, nor they are visible from any nearby hill from any distance or angle. Just like Peru’s famous Nazca Lines, they can only be seen from the air. And that is precisely how Blythe Intaglios were discovered.

Unseen by modern humans until the 20th century, these huge figures hidden on the desert floor were discovered in 1931 by local pilot George Palmer when flying over Blythe. Palmer reported seeing outlines of two human figures, serpents and four-legged animals with long tails. Another giant figure appeared just to have stepped out of a large dance ring.

Palmer’s discovery led to a survey of the area by Arthur Woodward, Curator of History and Anthropology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, leading to the geoglyphs being classified as a “Historical Landmark”. However, with no resident custodian, the site soon became subject to decay by vandalism. During the World War II, Blythe was even used as a desert training area and tanks and other equipment destroyed some of the intaglios. It wasn’t until 1952 when the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institution sent airborne archaeologists to the site and published an extensive article on the magazine along with aerial photographs, that Blythe Intaglios became known to the outside world. Today, a protective fence around the geoglyphs keep people from walking on top of them.

The figures at Blythe were created by scraping away the dark colored topsoil and rock to expose the light-colored soil underneath, and then piling dark gravel around the figures to outline them. The fine particles have been washed and blown away over the centuries, leaving larger stones or pebbles on the surface.

It is difficult to say how old the Intaglios are, since dating techniques have not been developed to date these types of features. Their age could be anywhere between 450 years to 2,000 years old. It's believed intaglios were made by ancestors of today's Native Americans living along the Colorado River. According to Native American oral histories, the human figure may represent the Creator, while the animal figures may represent mountain lions who helped in the creation. They are most likely a message to the gods, which a common theme throughout human civilization.