We are back on line now, sorry for the delays!
In 1794, Captain George Vancouver cruised by what is now the entrance to Glacier Bay and found it to be filled with a tidewater glacier. In 1879 when John Muir visited the same area, the glacier had retreated 48 miles north into the bay. Today, those same glaciers have retreated a total of 60 miles in a little over 200 years and left behind the huge bay that is now protected as Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve.Our entire day yesterday was spent cruising the length of the west arm of the bay, where we stopped to view the seabird nesting South Marble Islands, beautifully exposed geologic formations and the faces of the glaciers themselves. Along the way we saw Black Bears, mountain goats, and several seabirds. The the head of the bay we got to hang out for a bit viewing Margerie Glacier, the most accessible glacier in the bay. On the way back we were lucky enough to catch a clear view (a rarity this time of year) of the Mount Fairweather, which was the first attempt of Alaskan mountain climbing by climber Brad Washburn who then when on to be the first to ever summit Denali in 1937.
Today we got a chance to hang out by George Island in the morning and then the Inian Islands in the afternoon. George Island was a military camp in World War II, housing up to 40 people at one time or another, it was put here for protection against the Japanese invasion. It’s not a whole lot to look at now, but the landscape is very nice around the island, with a couple of really nice beaches to hang out on if one cared to.
Tracy Arm is home to Sawyer Glacier, a very popular place to visit for smaller tours out of Juneau. Today we went up for a visit, and it was even better than the glacier that we saw in Glacier Bay National Park. Sawyer Glacier caught my eye, because the way that it has carved the mountains around it so severely over the years. The sides of the mountains are exposed granite, with a very nice color to them, but the best part of Tracy Arm is the way that the ice that is so very blue it blows my mind when I look at it. The other thing that is very cool about Tracy Arm is that (unlike in Glacier Bay) we are allowed to do zodiac cruises up to the face of the Glacier. I have to tell you that there is nothing like siting on a piece of rubber a foot above the water, listening to the ice in the water around you make a bubbling/popping sound as it melts, then if you are lucky enough to actually see the ice calf (fall off) you will truly know the power of ice and water. It’s also very intense to see up close, very interesting the way that it melts. Very interesting indeed.
The wind and rain today has made exploring pretty difficult. We woke up to the winds howling and horizontal rain in LeConte Bay. LeConte Glacier is the southernmost of the tidewater glaciers in the northern hemisphere, it’s also one of the most actively retreating glaciers. Because of this, the glacier is constantly calving and there are a ton of icebergs at the mouth of the bay to prove it. The worst part of all this is that we couldn’t get up the bay to see the glacier, the conditions were just too bad.
In the afternoon we made it over to Petersburg for some time in town. There’s not very much going on in Petersburg, but it sure is nice to get off the boat and walk around for a few hours. I did get a pretty nice walk in town, but I paid the price by being completely sopping wet by the end of the day. I’m greatful for the time anyways.
Life on the boat is getting a bit rough for some of the crew now. It’s funny how some people get into a cycle, then when it comes to the end of the cycle they get pretty cranky. There is a pretty common thought around the boat right now, and most every one is looking forward to getting off in a week and half. I am not even close to ready to leave, though, I’m still loving this job. I do suppose it will be nice to spend some time at home, but I will look forward to heading back.
Wow, it’s been a lot of days now that I haven’t been able to get on the net. I didn’t realize how bad the internet connection would be up here, but it really is bad. Not much I can do about it, it’s a small price to pay for the what I’m doing right now. Alaska is amazing, there is few places in the US that are like this, and most of those are no where near the size. Since we arrived in the area I have seen more than my mind can even really process, it’s not like Baja was at all. Baja was very beautiful in it’s own rights, there was little that I saw down there that wasn’t interesting and pretty to see, but Alaska is so very much more on so many levels. Everything about the way the landscape has been molded over the life of the terrain, and the way the waters are so rich with life, as well as the weather that varies so much from season to season, and even day to day. I see why people have raved about it for so long, and so many stories have been written. I’m greatful that it’s everything that it has been built up to be, and more, because I was unsure about how I would have handled it if it wasn’t. I am ready to explore the area on my own, off of the boat, there is just so much that I’m not really sure where to start. The good thing is that I am surrounded by people who have tons of good info that can help out immensely with making that decision.
Elfin Cove is a little tiny town on the Pacific north of Sitka and just south of Glacier Bay National Park. We had some pretty foul weather all day, so a decision was made to drop in and check it out. The town only has 20 or so people living there for most of the year, so it must be pretty crazy for a 100 people to get off of a ship and converge on their little town. The town has no roads, no cars and there is a board walk way that circles the island community. There is a bar, a post office, a general store, a gift shop, and a couple of lodges in the town, as well as what appears to be a school and library, but they both looked pretty unused. The place is very interesting to say the least. I am still not totally sure that I like it all that much, but it is a beautiful place.
Aside from exploring, I got a chance to talk to my wife on the phone as well. Bad news, she had a miscarriage and lost the baby, but she also lost a ton of blood and had to go to the ER. She is doing ok, but unfortunate to say the least. I have no words to describe the way that I feel about this, but I will say I am greatful she is ok. Life is interesting, so many things in life are interesting.
Back to Glacier Bay for me today, we got into the Park a bit earlier this time so we got to see quite a bit more. There was a fresh coat of snow on the ground and that made this place look even more amazing. There is little that settles my mind more than staring out on a horizon full of snow capped and wind swept mountains. There is just something that settles my every nerve in that, I’m greatful to have it in my day. In the evening we made it back to the lodge after dinner, then for another much needed walk around the camp ground. Unfortunately the lodge won’t be open until Memorial weekend, so we won’t get a chance to see it in action. I’m sure that I will have plenty of opportunity this summer, though.
I just got word that the boat would not have internet at least until Sitka on saturday, maybe even later than that. I’ll have to try and post up the couple of places that we are in during the week that have wi-fi. Lucky that there is those places around, hello technology.
5/16 and 5/17
We finished up the last day of the second to last trip and all is well. I probably wont post too much the next week in preparation for my voyage home next week. I’m going to try and work on editing some video and other info that I have in raw form. Then I’ll post it all up when I get home.