Stretching and yawning the sleep out of our eyes, we wandered up to the bow of National Geographic Venture extra early this morning to take in stunning views of Johns Hopkins Glacier. We had traveled all the way into one of the most northern fjord arms of Glacier Bay National Park. The robust reputation of this park did not lead us astray. Massive walls of ice loomed at the end of the inlets and even let loose a tumble of ice in a thunderous boom. We spent the day navigating down-fjord while viewing coastal brown bears on the beach, whales and otters in the water, and birds aplenty. Later, we cruised by South Marble Island, where eagles, puffins, murres, gulls, and sea lions all congregate. An amazing spectacle and a true tribute to the value of our nationally protected lands.
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.