It was a beautiful morning as National Geographic Sea Lion entered Holkham Bay about 50 miles southeast of Juneau. We entered Tracy Arm around 6:00 a.m. and began our journey toward South Sawyer Glacier. The sun was just peeking over the fjord walls as we began our 20 mile plus journey toward the face of South Sawyer Glacier. The numerous steep valleys on both sides of these fjords were once filled with ice which fed into the larger glaciers that carved the fiords. Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness area, the steep, mountainous region from the eastern shoreline of Holkham Bay to the Canadian border, is protected.
Evidence of the past glacial processes that carved the fjords can be found throughout Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. At the entrance to Tracy Arm, a dense forest of spruces, hemlocks, and some cedars clings to the steep slopes that are underlain by metamorphic rock. As we traveled up the fjord, we observed the vegetation begin to decline. Fewer tree species are evident, and the steep fjord walls look like sheer cliffs that shine with water runoff in the sunlight. The scene was absolutely beautiful. It was one we knew we would remember forever as we gathered on the bow with our morning coffee to take in the views.
As we passed Sawyer Island and positioned the ship for Zodiac tours, there was a strong air of excitement on board. We started our Zodiac tours and headed toward the front of South Sawyer Glacier. Harbor seals and their pups were everywhere. It was an incredible sight to witness hundreds of harbor seal pups only a few weeks old. We took in the spectacular calving events of South Sawyer Glacier and were filled with a sense of wonder at the enormity of the glacially-carved walls and the beautiful mountain peaks surrounding the front of the glacier. We finished up this spectacular tour with hot chocolate on the bow as we took some amazing photographs that will provide a lifetime of memories.