The National Geographic Quest entered the mouth of Tracy Arm Fjord before most passengers woke this morning. The waterway is named for former Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Franklin Tracy. Located 45 miles south of Juneau, this spectacular fjord almost immediately offers evidence of the wall of ice that created the navigable route. Glacier blue icebergs appeared as the ship made her way over 20 miles to our destination. The granite walls were covered in rushing waterfalls that begin over a mile high in the icefield and descend to sea level. The glaciers in this fjord come from the Stikine Icefield, and the star of the show is South Sawyer Glacier. This river of ice is an active tidewater glacier, which means during the summer it calves or breaks off. Tracy Arm Fjord is part of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness and covers over 600,000 acres. This area is a small portion of the immense 17-million-acre Tongass National Forest. The deep passageway supports a dynamic spectrum of wildlife. Harbor seals occupied large ice floes in mass, mountain goats appeared precipitously balancing on the sheer wall faces, and marbled murrelets dotted the water constantly diving and suddenly reappearing.
Southeast Alaska is a dramatic landscape that is intensified by the “poor” weather. Sunny days wash out the vivid colors of the cerulean ice, emerald water, and fawn-colored walls, making overcast periods preferable. Today, we had perfect characteristic Southeast Alaskan climate, providing exceptional photo opportunities. We ended the day and our weeklong adventure with a chilly Polar Plunge. The bravest guests endured a quick dive into 48-degree water with Icy Falls as the perfect backdrop. An impeccable ending to an incredible trip filled with wildlife sightings, unbelievable scenery, and the shared experiences of kayaking and hiking into remote Alaskan forest. This truly was a trip of a lifetime.