Any sleep-deprived travelers may have to wait one more evening for a full night’s rest. Just prior to 0640, Expedition Leader Taylor Butz came on the public address system to announce that three bears – a sow and two cubs – were patrolling shore near our anchorage. Almost immediately National Geographic Sea Bird began to buzz. The spirit of adventure was palpable at breakfast, during our safety briefings, and on the beach as hiker’s prepared to hike to Lake Eva. Along the way, Naturalist Andy Putnam radioed in an amazing and unique find: six river otters were just a few feet from the trail keeping a watchful eye on our group. A sentiment I offer to guests often is to bring your camera and all its lenses on every hike, and today I kicked myself for not following this advice. Nevertheless, we pressed on into the forest, eventually lining up fantastic shots of a bald eagle at eye level.
Our afternoon was a time for cruising. Our first sightings were of humpback whales, their loud breath breaking the peaceful monotony of Alaskan silence. Between their surfacing loons and guillemots stirred baitfish into a frenzy. Needing to make way for the Inian Islands, we pressed north and found more humpbacks and sea lions. After a fruitless half-hour (an eternity in bow time), two mature brown bears ambled on to the beach. Cetaceans, though, were not to be outdone: four killer whales disrupted the bear viewing and threw the bow into a frenzy. Those weary, sleep-deprived travelers will indeed sleep well tonight!