Yesterday, a diverse group of explorers gathered in Sitka on a beautiful, warm, and sunny day, ready to board National Geographic Venture in the late afternoon, ready for a week of exploration in the seawater passages and forest trails of Southeast Alaska. Ready for the sights, smells, and sounds of this most intricately incised, northwestern coast of North America. Summer in this region of cold ocean fjords and temperate rainforest can be so variable. With sunshine to port and misty fog to starboard, the weather forecast looks good, but we’re ready for anything with a capable ship and crew for whatever is in store.

After a calm night at anchor, we set off in the morning through narrow passages and twisting tidal narrows. We were rewarded with outstanding wildlife all morning, including bears and deer on the shorelines, humpback whales, sea lions, harbor seals riding the currents, bald eagles gliding overhead, and numerous seabirds working the waterways around us. In the afternoon, we arrived in Ushk Bay, where options for hiking and kayaking allowed us to get so much closer to the wild nature all around us.