129 Photos

Glacier Bay National Park Headquarters
Pristine Alaska!!

(Monika Sundem)
Rise and Shine early! We heard people doing the “wellness walk” this morning at 6:45 AM outside our cabin – yay. Needless to say, we had opted not to participate, but ended up getting woken up by it anyway. We stumble down to breakfast at 7:30 Am (yes, we started that early today). Breakfast was pancakes, sausage, bacon, fruit, oatmeal and yogurt. We’ve enjoyed so far getting to know some others on the vessel at meal times, particularly there is a spread of people across the board from all over the US and even some international guests. It is fun to hear their stories. We dock at the Glacier Bay National Park entrance. E get off at 9:30 Am and stroll around the visitors center and see small exhibits about the wildlife and process that glaciers undergo. They have some artifacts, whale bones and stuffed animals to see and a nice gift shop. We then set out for a short ¾ mile guided loop through the forest in a group of about 15, keeping our eyes peeled for bears, porcupines, birds, and moose. We didn’t see any – I have a feeling that the human presence is much too strong to warrant close encounters here. We enjoy hearing about the flora and fauna of the temperate rain forest, although being raised in western WA, it felt odd to be on a guided hike in an ecosystem that had been my backyard.

We then head back and have the opportunity to wander around until we board the Endeavour again at 12:15 PM. After a fresh fish lunch, we continue raveling north, this time with the Glacier Bay National Park Ranger who will be accompanying us for the next two days. The National Park Ranger gives us a wildlife briefing and then we stop at Marble Island, a rock outcropping in the middle of the inlet with a whole harem of male sea lions, just hanging out. Sea birds are swarming along with a bald eagle and we see later some mt. Goats and an elk or caribou on the side of the fjord. Amazing!

We travel slowly north, steering past icebergs, and stop when we see three bears on the shore. The boat slows and turns so we can all see them, and then one bear starts to mount another and we literally watch two bears get it on for about fifteen minutes until we all get bored of waiting for them to be finished that the boat pulls out and continues on our way. We arrive to our destination by evening, the northen Tarr inlet, where Marjorie Glacier and the Grand Pacific Glacier meet the tidal waters. Marjorie is advancing at a rate of about 7 feet a day and we stand out on the deck to watch her calve chunks of ice into the sea, and then listen for the subsequent thunderous crack! The other glacier is retreating, and actually is black glacial ice due to all the dirt and debris it accumulated when it was formed that it is now leaving behind as it retreats.

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