Another day of Alaskan sunshine greeted us as we started our last full day of adventure aboard National Geographic Sea Bird. We set anchor in Kelp Bay on Baranof Island in the Tongass National Forest. With calm waters and clear skies, the conditions were perfect for spotting wildlife. Just after breakfast, we spotted the wispy blows of humpback whales in the distance. We began the day’s activities with expedition landing craft rides, and we caught up with a humpback whale and explored the intertidal zone. After lunch, National Geographic Sea Bird transited farther into one of the south arms of Kelp Bay, and we set out for an afternoon of kayaking in the shimmering waters and hiking and bushwhacking in the surrounding wilderness. We were fortunate enough to encounter a coastal brown bear, and we watched as he dug in the dirt, rubbed his back on a tree, and eventually lumbered away into the forest. We finished the day with a commemorative slideshow of all our experiences throughout the week in the company of newfound friends. We felt a sense of gratitude for the beautiful places we have had the joy to explore.
National Geographic Sea Bird
Exploring Tracy Arm
It seems so sudden that we already are on our fourth full day cruising the intricate channels, straits, and fjords of Southeast Alaska. We began with an early morning crossing of the bar in Holkham Bay, not a local juke joint, but rather the end moraine at the mouth of the fjords, a pile of glacial till left by the massive glaciers which long ago carved the over deepened valleys comprising Tracy and Endicott Arms. Protected as a wilderness area in the Tongass National Forest, Tracy Arm is a fjord which carried us for miles into the Coast Range mountains, far closer to the Canadian border than we are to the open Pacific Ocean. The presence of a tidewater glacier was evident as we navigated through icebergs, bergey bits, and growlers—ice shed recently by the South Sawyer Glacier. Incredible landscapes were capped by incredible wildlife as we turned the day into evening while cruising down bay, back across the bar, and out into Stephens Passage. Such a quick trip over the last few days, but the fresh sights, wild landscapes, and abundant wildlife filled our time until late evening as we finally turned north towards our final port of call in Juneau. Our shared experience has brought us together as old and new friends, sharing the spirit of exploration and personal discovery.