Endicott Arm & Dawes Glacier

May 24, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion


We could not have ended the trip on a more spectacular day! As I write this, we are sailing north towards Juneau with sunlight bouncing into the windows and happy chatter echoing from the dining room. Just a few moments ago a pod of killer whales emerged next to the windows of the lounge and we all poured onto the decks with cameras in hand. The sun was low, the water glass calm, and the sound of orca blows surrounded us. This was truly the epic ending of this epic voyage through Southeast Alaska.

The rest of our day did not disappoint! The day dawned with spitting rain and shafts of sunlight and lifted to blue skies and puffy clouds. A black bear was spotted before breakfast ambling down the beach. Throughout the morning we sailed into Endicott Arm, a glacially carved fjord with the spectacular Dawes glacier at its head. Upon reaching the glacier, we hopped into our zodiacs and enjoyed a couple of hours zipping into the ice. Around us were tall mountains and U-shaped valleys, all ground down and polished by past glaciation. The Dawes itself was a stunning turquoise color. Large pieces of ice intermittently plunged into the deep with thunderous booms. Huge numbers of Arctic terns surrounded us and perched on brash ice, delighting photographers with surprisingly close encounters. Before lunch we had the polar plunge, where a few brave souls dove into the frigid waters. Fortunately, everyone survived.

The afternoon was a pleasant cruise up the fjord with lovely warm sunlight and the bow full of birders hoping to spot glimpses of rare species. We did manage to find two brown bears running down the shoreline! Our National Geographic photographer Phil Schermeister presented a program on his Geographic assignments with stunning images of national parks. This evening we found a few lazy humpback whales and wrapped up the night with orcas.

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About the Author

Emily Mount

Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

Emily grew up in Niwot, Colorado and Pullman, Washington. Her love of nature began as a child during family vacations spent hiking, camping and exploring the mountains and deserts of the west. In contrast to her outdoors interests, Emily pursued an intensive young career as a classical violinist, culminating in degrees in history and music performance at the University of Washington.  

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