Ahh. We breathed a sigh of relief as we boarded our home for the next week, the National Geographic Venture. We are ready to continue our Fourth of July celebrations with all the bells and whistles that Mother Nature in Southeast Alaska has to offer.

The 4:30am sun woke many of us, but the beautiful landscape of Tracy Arm was worth the early start. Through the night we traveled south in Stephens Passage and into the Tracy Arm Fords Terror Wilderness Area. This stunning location encompasses 653,179 acres of designated National Forest Scenic Area and is part of the Tongass National Forest. Our first true taste of Alaska. Today we learned stories of glaciers past, present, and future.

As we approached South Sawyer Glacier, the icebergs out the window became a more frequent sighting. The water became thick with bergy bits and the National Geographic Venture came to a halt. Time to drop the Zodiacs! As we hurried into our small boats eager for adventure, we were mindful to apply sunscreen and don our sunglasses – an absolute must for our gorgeous conditions today! We darted around icebergs admiring their beauty and diversity; nothing man-made could ever compare. We let the sharp breeze from the glacier graze our faces as we watched large calving events and listened to the white thunder.

The ice floes were scattered with harbor seals – an unexpected sighting! These pinnipeds come deep into the protected fjord to give birth to their pups and then mate again. There were hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of seals and we were even lucky enough to see some pups feeding from their mothers. We headed to bed feeling grateful for the opportunity to be in this incredible wilderness area feeling humbled by its grandeur.