The grand finale of our voyage featured a misty, magical, and full day spent exploring Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. After shuttling by Zodiac to a platform in front of a split waterfall, we jumped into our kayaks for a long morning paddling amongst innumerable lacy waterfalls cascading down the stone faces of the mountains. Thin clouds drifted across the peaks as we pondered the sheer magnitude of the amount of ice that once covered this place. We observed the smoothed mountain peaks that rise several thousand feet. These peaks were once hidden under the Stikine Ice Field. As we neared the face of the Sawyer Glacier, we could just make out the rapids from the meltwater river flowing out of a cave on its left side.

After warming up with a delightful lunch, we embarked on afternoon Zodiac tours of the South Sawyer Glacier, where we wove between the icebergs, “growlers,” and “bergy bits” that glowed in an astonishing array of blue hues under the drizzly, overcast skies. We snuck past harbor seals with their newborn pups resting on the ice; they occasionally lifted their heads as we passed quietly. We rounded the final bend, where we were amazed by the vastness of the face of the South Sawyer Glacier, which is estimated to be 150-200 feet tall and a quarter mile wide.

Suddenly, a Zodiac full of Vikings caught guests by surprise as they overtook our boats. All were relieved to discover that this motley crew was in fact made up of National Geographic Venture’s bartenders, who were accompanied by a gang of staff dressed as Vikings. They offered us spiked hot chocolate and warm spiced cider – a warm and welcome treat.

Before we returned to the ship, South Sawyer let out a few thunderous cracks, and one small chunk crashed into the sea. Truly, change is the only constant.