When George Vancouver sailed through the fjords of Southeast Alaska in the late 1790s searching for the Northwest Passage, he complained, “There is not a single prospect pleasing to the eye.” Boy, was that guy wrong. Stunning ice floes and glacier-covered mountains greeted us as we entered Williams Cove this morning. We used everything in our means to explore the turquoise waters and verdant forest: kayaks, standup paddleboards, and of course, muddy boots. Our Global Explorers even fit in an exciting driving lesson in the Zodiacs. Tiny details contrasted the overwhelming scenery, drawing us into the sweet fragrance of Shy Maidens and the curious adaptations and bizarre textures of tiny encrusting barnacles.

The binoculars were out in force as we cruised into Tracy Arm in the afternoon. “Is that a bear or rock? It’s rock. No, it’s a bear. No, it’s a rock… It’s a bear! It’s a black bear!” After a little detour to appreciate the third bear of our trip as he foraged for snacks in the intertidal zone, we followed the trail of ice floating between massive glacially carved walls with waterfalls cascaded thousands of feet on both sides.

Finally, it was time for a Zodiac cruise. We carefully wove through constantly shifting bergs, many being used as safety rafts for mother harbor seals and their newborn pups, until the colossal ice wall of the South Sawyer intertidal glacier loomed before us. Pops and cracks rang out with every calving slab of ice as they plunged dramatically into the fjord. A bald eagle soared directly over our heads with a rockfish clutched in its talons—a meal opportunistically grabbed as the fish was stunned by the falling ice.

Tired, but with our thirst for adventure and wilderness quenched for the moment, it was time for another stunning sunset as we headed back out into Stephens Passage for a final spectacular night watching for whales and soaking in the grandeur.