Glacier Bay

We awoke to clear skies and pink, jagged mountains of the Fairweather Range as the low sun rose. While the clear skies would not last, it was a beautiful way to greet the day and our upcoming adventure through Glacier Bay National Park. Our vessel was bound for the head of the West Arm. Once there we spent a few hours enjoying Steller Sea Lions as they played below the calving tidewater glacier, Marjorie.

By the time we left this glacier the weather had sunk into a fog. Still we spotted a few large bull sea lions and their harem lounging on sea side rocks as we made our way up the Johns Hopkins Inlet among the icebergs. The snow that accompanied this part of the journey, not only fed the advancing glacier, but also brought a polar aspect to our journey. We caught a glimpse of the Lamplugh Glacier and researchers braving the weather and calving glacier in nearby zodiacs.

As we headed back to the main channel the weather improved. This bolstered thoughts of micro climates, imagining that all that ice may have created its own weather pocket. Returning Humpback Whales followed us through the main channel and into the East arm.

Glacier Bay holds the prestige of being the primary example for plant succession among scientists. After the major disturbance of glacial activity on the land, lichens and moss are the first back before willows and alders make way for the forest.

The bare, glacially worn walls of Muir Inlet depict the more recent recession of glaciers there. There are no trees at the head of the inlet, providing the steep and bare terrain beloved to Mountain Goats. Their shaggy white coats were highly visible against the not yet green slopes.

Upon our return we spotted a Brown Bear on the shoreline. He was busy foraging for food in the receding tide. Alaskan's say, " When the tide is out, the table is set." This certainly proved true for our bear as he rummaged through the rocks for another scrumptious morsel.

This trip provided a great view of Glacier Bay, its many glaciers and its impressive size. Each arm provided unique topography and animals. Next time we will pick a corner to explore in depth.


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