We awoke to clear blue skies and pleasant temperatures. These are unusual but most welcome conditions for Southeast Alaska in mid-May. Shortly after the early risers woke, we crossed over the ancient, submerged terminal moraine of Sawyer Glacier into Holkham Bay, the entrance to Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. The submerged moraine creates swirling vertical and horizontal currents, which churn up plankton that attracts numerous foraging birds. Shortly after crossing the moraine, we observed a single black bear on the beach. Several minutes later, we spotted a single humpback whale a few feet from the cliff face. Tracy Arm was ‘littered’ with brash ice and growlers, which forced the ship to stop well before reaching the glacier. No matter…we embarked on Zodiac cruises, but still, we were unable to get closer to the glacier. Nevertheless, while cruising through the ice field, we saw numerous roaring waterfalls, breathtaking vistas of snow-covered mountains and sheer, vertical cliffs, creatively sculpted ice, lush green and impossibly positioned spruce and cedars, and several harbor seals, including a mother-calf pair resting peacefully on a small growler.
After lunch, we listened to two presentations and watched for wildlife, spotting a mother-calf pair of humpback whales. Before dinner, we enjoyed a rousing game of Jeopardy that covered a few subjects, including: How well do you know National Geographic Sea Bird? How well do you know your naturalists? How well do you know photographic terms? Great fun was had by all.
After dinner, many of us gathered on the bow to watch for wildlife in stunning conditions: a clear and sunny sky, warm temperatures, and a following wind. A wonderful ending to a pretty great day in Southeast Alaska!