When dawn broke on National Geographic Quest, she found herself deep amongst the towering peaks and narrow fjords of Glacier Bay National Park. The early morning light brought us to Johns Hopkins Glacier, which stood steadfast with brilliant blue streaks of compact ice illuminated by the soft light of a moody Alaska day. We sailed back down the inlet, observing bears at Russell Cut, mountain goats at Gloomy Knob, and the diverse species that call South Marble Island home. Evening brought us to Bartlett Cove, headquarters of GBNP. We docked and took a stroll through towering Sitka spruce forests while birds chirped overhead, and the sounds of humpback whale spouts echoed across the cove. What a magical day indeed at southeast Alaska’s crown jewel, Glacier Bay National Park.
National Geographic Venture
Southeast Alaska is endlessly dynamic. Sailing north in Chatham Strait, the coast of Baranof Island showed us pumping waterfalls from the melting winter snow. Ephemeral spring blooms from salmonberry and shooting stars added a flush of pink to the coastal meadows. Geese and pipits on their northbound migration flitted about on the tidal flats, resting before the next leg of their journey. A single humpback whale corralled fish against the shoreline, feasting on the seasonal abundance present in these waters. Taking in this majesty built our excitement for our exploratory day ahead. Today, we looked to Cosmos Cove, a small and rarely visited inlet on the east side of Baranof Island. This protected bay offered perfect opportunities for us to set out in our expedition craft to explore by land and sea. Hikes in the littoral zone and tidepools gave us close looks at crabs, fish, annelids, and other residents of this very active habitat. The tidal swing in Southeast Alaska can be over twenty feet in areas; in our short time ashore, we could see the water rise at our feet in real time. Peeking behind the trees, we followed game trails set by bear and deer, which led us deep under the towering canopy of the rainforest. By sea, we cruised the coastline by kayak and paddleboard. Serene seas and clear skies offered us the perfect opportunity to explore. After a full day in our private cove, the distant blows of whales in Chatham Strait beckoned us. In the smooth waters of this massive fjord, we could see for miles. Seabirds and humpback whales filled the landscape. The long days of the northern summer gave us incredible light during the afternoon and evening to capture the landscape with our cameras and in our memories. This truly is a place like no other, and we look towards tomorrow with anticipation of what might come.