National Geographic Venture and its passengers awoke to a typical Southeast Alaskan morning. Rolling fog spilled through the valley, and light rains kissed the mountains. The sun and clouds wrestled for control of the skies as the rains came and went. From our first anchorage, Zodiacs brought passengers ashore to George Island. The home of large World War II armaments left behind in the forest, the island and its flora serve as a reminder of man’s impact on nature. Left to its own devices, the earth will reclaim that which we source from it. In but a few decades, lichens and moss have started to colonize the gun’s surface.

A brief afternoon cruise led us to the Inian Islands, where the view of the Fairweather Mountains was obscured. Despite continued rains and large swells, the Inians proved a wildlife haven. Bald eagles descended from on high to source prey from the depths. Dominant male Steller sea lions looked on from their perches. With jaws agape, they fended off intrusive young males from their hard-earned territory. Sea otters within the kelp beds were especially inquisitive today. Typically skittish, they showed an intense curiosity and approached us with little hesitation.

This evening will be spent cruising towards Glacier Bay. While many will retire early following a long day of exploration, the more intrepid among us will remain on the bow in search of cetaceans, seabirds, and the wonders that Southeast Alaska reveals to the vigilant.