This morning, we woke up to what some would call “Alaskan Sunshine.” It was not clear when the sun truly rose due to thick cloud cover and mist. The mountaintops of the sheer granite peaks disappeared into the mist as our guests looked on in awe. Our bow was filled with fascinated passengers when a humpback dove just in front of us, where we rarely if ever find them. Captain Tim Lyon navigated the icy waters with skill, positioning us just beyond Sawyer Island at the approach to South Sawyer Glacier by the time breakfast was served. Both glaciers showed signs of being active throughout the night, as our ship was surrounded by brash ice. At nine o’clock, our first round of Zodiacs cut paths through the ice-filled waters to deliver our guests to the awe-inspiring face of South Sawyer Glacier. Here at the calving birthplace of all this ice, we were able to see where the end of a river of ice meets the ocean. Large calving events sent the thunderous sound of ‘Sumdum’ echoing down the fjords while seals fled their floating ice to avoid the oncoming waves. Our rain gear was put to the test as the weather presented challenges throughout the day, but as we could see quite clearly, an overcast sky can present deep and glowing hues of blue from glacial ice. Of course, no trip to Tracy Arm is complete without an enthusiastic surprise visit from our hotel staff. They weathered the rain to sneak up on each of our Zodiacs. They were dressed as Vikings and offered us hot cocoa with or without an extra kick!
Throughout the day, our guests were treated to fascinating educational talks by the naturalist staff. Shannon Malone treated us to an education on the development of the old growth forest that we saw popping up all around us as we travelled down the new growth of a fjord. Later in the evening, Jeff Campbell, a professor of ecology, talked us through the species of whales we were likely to encounter throughout our week. After a fast start to the wildlife viewing on our first two days, we were able to shift the focus to the geological phenomena that surrounds us as we travel through the miraculous Inside Passage of Southeast Alaska.