Today we woke to a beautiful, sunny day with gorgeous views of the snow-capped mountains flanking Tarr Inlet in Glacier Bay National Park. While enjoying a hot cup of coffee on the bow of National Geographic Quest, several Alaskan brown bears soon appeared off the portside by the rocky shoreline, including a mother bear with two cubs, as well as two huge male brown bears. At one point, the mother bear started running along the shoreline with her cubs for quite a distance, probably to keep the cubs safe from the large male bears. We enjoyed incredible views of brown bear behavior for over 30 minutes. Then, moving on to the end of Tarr Inlet, the Captain positioned the bow of National Geographic Quest facing Margerie Glacier, a tidewater glacier that calves into Tarr Inlet. We quietly listened to distant cracks and booms coming from inside the glacier as it slowly creeps towards its terminus, and a few blocks of ice calved off the left side of the terminus into the inlet. We had the privilege of having a Native Huna Tlingit woman come aboard to explain their culture, lifestyle, and spiritual connections to the land. It was a magical and emotional moment to quietly watch the morning unfold with Margerie Glacier spread across the bow of our vessel, while we listened to the soft beat of her hand-made drum and her songs to the earth, as she danced in her native robe with guests. Off the starboard side to the north, we saw morainal debris from the Grand Pacific and Ferris Glaciers at the end of Tarr Inlet, with glacial ice glistening in the distance.
It was hard to leave the bears, ice, and spiritual inspiration of the northwest end of Tarr Inlet behind, but we eventually headed southward to the entrance of Johns Hopkins Inlet and the tidewater terminus of the spectacular Lamplugh Glacier where everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch and more incredible views of the power of glaciers. Following lunch, the ship continued southward down Glacier Bay past Queen Inlet to the Marble Islands and eventually Bartlett Cove, headquarters of Glacier Bay National Park (where the southern extent of the ice reached when George Vancouver sailed into Icy Strait in 1780). Along the way, we enjoyed a spectacular sunny afternoon with sightings of mountain goats, sea otters, sea lions, whale spouts, lots of tufted puffins, and two large black bears slowly ambling along the shoreline. The ship’s Captain once again positioned the ship so guests could view the bears and take photographs. We finished the day with cocktails, recaps of the day’s adventures, and short hikes at Bartlett Cove prior to another delicious dinner aboard ship. This was a day that everyone will remember forever!