As National Geographic Resolution heads across the Northwest Passage from Greenland across the northern coast of Canada, we're enjoying spectactular photos of massive ice, gorgeous landscapes, and, of course, polar bears.
We were warned about the rain, but we did not expect to like it as much as we did. I looked back on the group bicycling behind me in the heavy drizzle and saw smiles. Dr. Jeff said that the harder it rained, the more he smiled. Beaming guests at the midway point told me they were embracing nature and living in the moment. The five miles were wet but fun. Meanwhile, naturalist Frankie Wilton was leading the “Long and Steep Hike” up Petersburg Mountain. Some stretches have logs with notches cut into them as steps to assist climbing. Nine miles later, dirty and damp, happy hikers emerged from the forest to return to the ship. Cocktail hour was entertaining with the photos of plankton that the undersea specialists had collected. The golden-colored sea flea, copepods, and isopods amazed the crowd.
A very special day unfolded for guests aboard National Geographic Endurance today as we continued our eastbound transit of the Northwest Passage. Today marks the 117th anniversary to the day of Roald Amundsen’s visit to Cambridge Bay during the first successful transit of the Northwest Passage. It was even more special because it was our first visit to a community in Canada, where we got a view into the life of people who have made this place their home for generations. We were honored to be escorted around the town by local guides and community representatives. We left the bay as the sun broke and couldn’t have felt fuller.
What began as a rainy morning aboard National Geographic Venture turned into high clouds with the occasional peak of sunshine as we traversed Williams Cove in Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. Thirty-three people with the spirit of Alaskan adventure decided to explore the forest via bushwhacking. We found immense thickets of juicy, ripe blueberry bushes, patches of bright red watermelon berries, and to our delight, a muskeg with a central pond and lilies! After lunch, we cruised farther up Tracy Arm, where we had the delight of viewing a male orca! We watched it dive down, and the pronounced dorsal fin cut through the surface of the water. We eventually made our way to South Sawyer Glacier, where we split into two groups for Zodiac tours to gain a closer look at all things ice. Bergy bits, growlers, and brash ice were examined up close. The deepest blue of the densest ice was glowing from fresh calving, and harbor seals galore were hauled out on the ice. After spending time in this otherworldly ecosystem, the Zodiacs cruised back to the ship. Various levels of succession were observed on the ride back, and once on board, guests were greeted with a cup of warm hot cocoa and spirits to get cocktail hour started in fashion. It was an adventure filled day in Tracy Arm!
Harbor seals, mountain goats, and calving glaciers – our day in Tracy Arm was full of photographic opportunities! With an overcast morning, the vibrant spectrum of glacial blue colors were on display as we swerved through the fjord. We turned our cameras towards the details of the ice, appreciating the complex differences between older and younger ice and the dancing, refracting light. Our day concluded with kayaking in the fjord before farewell cocktails and dinner. A beautiful send-off from Southeast Alaska.
We spent the day doing activities from National Geographic Endurance on the north shore of Coronation Gulf, Nunavut. The day began with fog rolling off the sea and onto land, but it did not interfere with any of our planned activities. In the morning, we had the opportunity to kayak, hike, or both. Kayakers paddled around the calm bay. They watched jellyfish in the water, looked at the granite cliffs, and spotted an arctic hare. Hikers went inland on Edinburgh Island across a lush tundra vegetation full of flowers, grasses, and short willows. They stopped to see several caribou antlers, bear and wolf scat, and the tracks of several animals. The guests even stopped to pick blueberries and learn about the tundra ecosystem from the naturalists. When they got to the tall Precambrian granite cliffs, they saw and heard peregrine falcons flying around. Each hiking group took the time to watch the adult falcon pair and their offspring fly, hunt, and sit on the cliff. During the afternoon, we went on a series of hikes in Johansen Bay along the southern shore of Victoria Island. The long hikers went up the sandstone mountain to get magnificent views. The medium hikers went up the slope of the mountain to see the views, flowers, antlers, and other interesting sites. They stopped to see solifluction lobes, where soil crept down the slope like a lava flow as a reaction to the thawing of the permafrost. The photo hike and leisurely hikers went along the shoreline to see archeological sites, such as rock mounds and possible stone circles. Everyone got to see the last flowers of the season, including lupine and lousewort, as well as tundra plants that have gone to seed, such as cotton grass and mountain avens. We all headed back to the ship for a well-deserved evening of happy hour, recap, and fine dining after an activity-filled day on National Geographic Endurance .