Today we awoke early in Glacier Bay and gathered on the bow as we approached the Johns Hopkins Glacier. Low clouds and mist moved in and out of the mountains around us and stayed close throughout the day. After breakfast, we found ourselves at Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers at the northernmost end of the bay before we started heading the sixty-five miles south to Bartlett Cove at the park entrance. Along the way, we spotted brown bears, humpback whales, sea otters, and harbor seals. A stop at South Marble Island was a great opportunity for birding, where we got a look at tufted puffins, pelagic cormorants, marbled murrelets, and many others. We finished our day with a post-dinner hike on the trails at Bartlett Cove – a lovely way to end a beautiful experience in the park!
National Geographic Quest
Many of our guests book their trip for one reason – they want to see a brown bear roaming free in wild Alaska. This morning, they got their wish! We dropped anchor in Pavlov Harbor located on the northeast coast of Chichagof Island. The area hosts a productive salmon stream, and the bears were there to feed! We staggered our guests to keep the groups to a manageable size and headed for the landing. Bears were seen even before we landed, and as we approached the stream we saw two large sub-adult female brown bears near the water. Closer to the small cascading waterfall, a mother bear was teaching her two cubs to fish while gorging herself on the abundant salmon. One more sat close to the waterfall, seemingly satiated on the feast provided by the returning salmon. Our first group returned to the ship, and we kept our fingers crossed that the bears would remain. We were not disappointed! In fact, the second viewing was possibly even more exciting. A total of eight bears were seen, and while we watched the waterfall action, the mother and her two cubs emerged behind us on the trail we intended to use! Our plans quickly changed; we loaded our Zodiacs and made our retreat, allowing the bears full access to the beach and their salmon breakfast. Before we pulled anchor and left Pavlov Harbor we had one more “real” Alaskan experience, the polar plunge! Seventeen brave souls lined up along the beach and charged into the chilly water. All survived and headed back to the ship for a hot shower and lunch.