Today, we woke up aboard National Geographic Quest as we passed beyond the Inian Islands and turned south into the protection of George Island. George Island is known for a World War II gun emplacement at its northeast edge, which was placed in August 1942 to defend the entrance to Cross Sound. Cross Sound is an area of strategic importance because it’s one of the few entries into the Inside Passage. As a result, the Americans placed a small outpost and a gun there after its entry into the war. Though the most known feature of the island is the impressive gun, there is much more to be seen on George Island. We went ashore in the morning to explore, and some of us ventured out for a more complete exploration of the island.

We veered off the beaten trail to the gun in search of a pond, accessible only by deer trails. Along the way, we found many signs of deer: scat, footprints, and a deer bed just as we gained a view of the pond, with its numerous pond lilies, skunk cabbage, and buckbean. Emboldened by our success in finding the pond, we forged onward in search of the northeast corner of the island. Along the way, we came across a wonderful muskeg, an Alaskan bog, with abundant shore pines, mountain hemlocks, bog cranberries, round-leaved sundews, and bog blueberries. We continued on before being turned back by the steep northern cliffs of the island.

We bushwhacked our way back to the maintained trail and from there spotted an impressive sea stack on a beach and a beautiful common butterwort. The butterwort is an insectivorous plant with stunning purple flowers. We hiked the rest of the way to the gun, enjoying the view of Cape Spencer. We returned to the beach and our compatriots for a refreshing swim in the cold Alaskan waters.