We passed over the “bar” of Tracy Arm Fjord just after dawn. A handful of guests were on the bow watching birds feed in the turbulent water; as we continued into the fjord, more and more guests ventured forth to view the spectacular sights. We witnessed misty clouds hovering over the water and shrouding the peaks; fog wafted in and out, partially covering spruce trees along the shore. All was periodically illuminated with shafts of sunlight that accentuated the colors. The changing light was simply mesmerizing and a photographer’s dream. Icebergs from the Sawyer glaciers drifted by, increasing in size and number as we approached South Sawyer Glacier. After breakfast we departed on two rounds of Zodiac cruising among the brash ice, growlers, bergy bits, and small icebergs, to view South Sawyer Glacier from a safe distance. Another photographer’s dream: vivid blue icebergs, stranded on the beach by the high tide, and floating in the water. The rugged glacier face featured veins of blue interspersed with patches of white. Again, changing light from the partly sunny skies highlighted the diverse colors of ice, especially on the glacier. We witnessed four calving events; we heard the low “boom” seconds after the ice crashed, and experienced gentle rocking as the slow swell reached our Zodiacs several minutes later. Many harbor seals rested on icebergs close to the glacier face, but they were quite blasé about the watery turmoil near their icy “bed.” While those seals slept, several juvenile seals actively swam around and occasionally poked their heads out of the water to investigate us — this strange sight of orange things crowded together on a small gray “iceberg.”
In the afternoon we traveled to Williams Cove, anchored, and shuttled to shore for casual, medium, and long hikes through the temperate rain forest. It was quite a contrast from the icy morning! Walking on a trail made by resident bears, weaved among the majestic Sitka spruce and western hemlock, was a bit humbling. Bear scat was prominent on the trail, but we didn’t see any bears. We crossed a stream in which many pink salmon valiantly and laboriously swam against the current to their spawning area. The single-minded determination and intense focus of the salmon were also humbling.
We returned to National Geographic Sea Bird to enjoy cocktail hour and recaps. It was a great first day, with many more adventures to experience tomorrow.