Autumn has arrived here in Southeast Alaska; it was dim at 0600 and the hills were alive with amber foliage. As we cruised toward Margerie Glacier, more evidence of the arriving cold was present: the fjord was congested with an unbelievably dense mass of brash ice and growlers. We stood on the bow in awe of the river of ice as dense chunks calved into the waters below, stirring the kittiwakes into a frenzy. Ribbons of fog accented the landscape, wrapping our early morning up nicely.
At 0830 our cultural interpreter, James “Uncle Jim” Thomas, sang a traditional Tlingit greeting song and regaled us with stories of his people. I have seen many people tell great stories and impart fantastic lessons in the lounge of National Geographic Quest, but I don’t think I have ever seen anyone get as many laughs as Uncle Jim. Jim’s stories had me wheezing with amusement and smiling with inspiration. It is truly a testament to Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic that such fascinating people come to speak to our audiences.
Following Uncle Jim’s tales, we observed some mountain goats on Gloomy Knob. The early afternoon was a time for relaxation. Undersea specialist Pat Webster delighted us all with his presentation “A Deeper Dive into Glacier Bay,” illuminating the geology and oceanography of this wonderful place. Afterward we cruised past South Marble Island, thrilled with our sightings of harlequin ducks and tufted puffins. Our relaxation was short-lived, however, as we pulled into Bartlett Cove and set off for an aerobic hike. This brisk walk was the perfect conclusion to a day of great exhilaration.