A breezy, misty morning greeted us as we anchored in Portage Bay in front of the small, coastal Alaskan town of Haines. Quintessential Southeast Alaskan weather brought wind-whipped low clouds, swirling and broken mid-level clouds, and small little pockets of blue with glimpses of the high mountain peaks surrounding the valley. Located on a long peninsula between Lynn Canal and the Chilkat River, Haines is the self-billed “Adventure Capital of Alaska.” Haines is also the historic marine terminus of trading trails into the interior of the continent. We disembarked National Geographic Sea Bird, riding the wind and waves to the town pier as we prepared for the variety of adventures the day would bring.
National Geographic Sea Bird
Exploring Tracy Arm
It seems so sudden that we already are on our fourth full day cruising the intricate channels, straits, and fjords of Southeast Alaska. We began with an early morning crossing of the bar in Holkham Bay, not a local juke joint, but rather the end moraine at the mouth of the fjords, a pile of glacial till left by the massive glaciers which long ago carved the over deepened valleys comprising Tracy and Endicott Arms. Protected as a wilderness area in the Tongass National Forest, Tracy Arm is a fjord which carried us for miles into the Coast Range mountains, far closer to the Canadian border than we are to the open Pacific Ocean. The presence of a tidewater glacier was evident as we navigated through icebergs, bergey bits, and growlers—ice shed recently by the South Sawyer Glacier. Incredible landscapes were capped by incredible wildlife as we turned the day into evening while cruising down bay, back across the bar, and out into Stephens Passage. Such a quick trip over the last few days, but the fresh sights, wild landscapes, and abundant wildlife filled our time until late evening as we finally turned north towards our final port of call in Juneau. Our shared experience has brought us together as old and new friends, sharing the spirit of exploration and personal discovery.