Williams Cove and Tracy Arm – Fords Terror Wilderness

Sep 07, 2017 - National Geographic Sea Lion

“Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit.” – Edward Abbey

Today, we woke up in the protected calm of Williams Cove, and although it was raining hard, many of us ventured into the Tongass National Forest, the largest National Forest in the U.S., to walk on some bear trails and learn about exciting plant and animal life in the forest. We learned how to tell the difference between the two big conifers which make up the canopy in the coastal temperate rainforest – the western hemlock, the bark of which looks like bacon strips, and the Sitka Spruce – the bark of which looks like potato chips! There were no blueberries left in the forest for us to forage on, because the bears had already eaten them!

Lunch certainly lifted our spirits a bit after the morning walks in the soaking rain. But the best show on Earth was yet to reveal itself!!

In the afternoon, we jumped into our boats and headed for the face of the South Sawyer glacier at the end of the Tracy Arm fjord. We imagined John Muir visiting this glacier back in 1879 and felt like explorers, navigating around the ice chunks, growlers, bergy bits, and icebergs about 1 mile from the face of the glacier. We picked up some ice chunks and looked at bubbles -- ancient air -- trapped in centuries past! As we watched patiently for glacial calving and we listened to the thunderous cracking of the glacial innards, we discussed the importance of wilderness and wild places in the U.S. and around the world and the evolution of the American environmental movement.

And right then, as if on cue, after a quote from John Muir on the spiritual value of wilderness, the skies opened up just a bit, and through the clouds a bit of light bathed the deepest blue parts of the glacier in a fantastic glistening way and then traveled along the whole face of the glacier creating a large intense spectacular rainbow right above the glacial face! Not once, but at least 3 times this happened, as we stood in awe deeply moved! A very special breathtaking moment in the wilderness, absolutely unforgettable! 

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About the Author

Lida Teneva


Dr. Lida Teneva grew up in Sofia, Bulgaria, in Eastern Europe, and wanted to be an explorer from an early age. Today, she is a coral reef scientist, marine conservationist, and educator, with 13 years of experience accumulated in Barbados, Dominican Republic, Australia (Great Barrier Reef), French Polynesia, Palau, the Northern Line Islands (Palmyra Atoll), Hawaii, and Fiji. She has worked on ancient and modern coral reefs, reconstructing past climate change and predicting future changes to reefs. 

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