After variable weather the past 36 hours, it was a relief to see glassy water and patches of blue sky this morning as we entered Glacier Bay. By 7:00 a.m., we were nosing up to the public-use dock at Bartlett Cove, the headquarters of the National Park Service and our chance to stretch our legs for the day. We explored the beautiful coastal forest, the cultural presence of the Tlingit, and appreciated the break from wearing raingear.
After brunch, we passed along the east side of South Marble Island. Steller sea lions lounged in the sun, grumbling and groaning amongst each other in giant piles. Sea otters rolled and splashed along the shore while sea birds occupied the cliffs, placid waters, and air. Puffins were the stars of the morning. Tufted puffins were everywhere: snoozing in the water with their heads tucked under their wings, rafting together in the calm seas, and trying valiantly to take off from the water with bellies full of fish. The true treat was five horned puffins swimming along the surface together, a rare sight for the area!
On our way north, we passed a large group of killer whales moving south. We had some fantastic views of the pod: big males with their six-foot-tall fins, females with their curved fins, and even some young juveniles splashing at the surface. With the glass-calm water, it was easy to see the pod spread across the entire width of the bay.
At Gloomy Knob, we watched a mother and kid mountain goat forage just above the tideline, giving us great looks at animals normally hundreds of feet overhead. We cruised northward in the afternoon sun toward Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers, arriving just before cocktail hour. We were treated to some spectacular calving from the glacier face and beautiful views of the Fairweather Mountains behind the glaciers.
Our day ended with a beautiful evening cruise south out of the bay. We passed humpback whales in the glassy water, their breath lighting up like torches in the golden light. The final treat of the day was being woken up just before midnight with a truly lucky treat; the aurora borealis was out and dancing. What an amazing way to end a beautiful day in Glacier Bay.