Icy Strait | Cross Sound | Fox Creek

Jul 01, 2019 - National Geographic Sea Lion


The orange light from yesterday’s fires was replaced today with a cool, draping fog. The day opened before us in three horizontal stripes. The top stripe was swirling feathers of fog. The middle layer revealed thick forests above rocky shores and swirling seas made the final layer. We were sailing the surface of Icy Strait and Cross Sound headed to Glacier Bay National Park. A remote inlet named Dundas Bay was our morning’s destination. A slippery coating of sand and silt covered the land from the water’s edge to the distant grasses. Life vests piled high upon an old felled tree marked our point of departure. The grasses and sedges marked the boundary between the mud and the trees. However, hidden in these grasses are the brooding eggs of the Savannah sparrow. Mats of grasses woven by loving parents cover the jellybean-sized eggs. Farther up the beach plants promise a banner year for strawberries. Indian paintbrush in reds, yellows, and peach colors mix with blue wild Iris blooms and the white towers of false lily of the valley creating a vivid picture.

Into the forest on animal trails we strolled. Some of us found a moose antler and some gazed upon the remains of an adult bald eagle and the tracks of bears and wolves.

The afternoon excursion was at Fox Creek on Chichagof Island. Zodiacs cruised along forested shores with the blows of humpback whales drawing us farther and farther on. Meanwhile the mysteries of the forest were experienced by hikers. Perennial bear trails were pressed deeply into the moss. Bears leave their scents to attract mates and to warn possible rivals to their presence. Thick roots of towering Sitka Spruce trees grasped the land in strong fists. These giants are but toddlers to the size of their grandparents in old growth forest sites. The flaky bark on the trunks leave a litter of odd shaped bark chips on the forest floor. Spongy soft trails in the forest give way to wet skunk cabbage gardens. The leaves of this plant can grow to four feet tall during the long days of summer.

All too soon we were headed back to the warmth and comfort of our ship, a fabulous meal and dreams of tomorrow.

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About the Author

Marylou Blakeslee

Naturalist

For the past 20 years, Marylou Blakeslee has traveled the world sharing her love of wild places. She lectures on a number of topics from the bears and wolves of the Arctic, to the leopard seals and whales of the Antarctic, as well as the turtles and fishes of the Great Barrier Reef.

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