On the first morning of our voyage on National Geographic Quest, we ate breakfast and absorbed safety briefings involving the week ahead, including an introduction to Zodiac travel. The rain continued, we heard lectures about photography and Alaska, then prepared for our time completely exposed to the elements. So after watching the fog undulate into the valleys and observing blue and clear icebergs, we ventured toward the ice, leaving human civilization behind.

It continued to rain at sea level, but was likely snowing up in the icefield, as we traveled toward the face of South Sawyer Glacier. Many large icebergs floated nearby – frozen into them were both rocks and sediment – maintaining homeostasis atop the seawater. We saw mountain goats, over a hundred harbor seals both beside and sprawled on top of ice, and then there was the natural noise exuded by the glacier: pops, cracks, groans, and thunder. The tidewater glacier even calved before our eyes.

This day offered a great initiation ceremony to a week-long voyage through the Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska. Bring it on.