Today we explored Glacier Bay, a long and wild embayment running 65 miles into the mainland at the northwestern corner of the Alaska Panhandle. The national park, together with connecting northward parks, preserves, and wilderness in both the US and Canada, comprise a UNESCO World Heritage Site. At 25 million acres, it is one of the largest contiguous wilderness areas on the planet. Formed by repeated advances and retreats of the Grand Pacific Glacier and its tributary glaciers, which are fed by massive ice fields in the surrounding coast ranges, the bay is a terrific area for wildlife and wild landscapes.
National Geographic Venture
The bridge team of National Geographic Venture anchored the vessel in a bay protected from the winds and waves of the open ocean. The waters near the Inian Islands are known for heavy currents and extreme waves. The Inian Islands are located in the heart of Cross Sound, one of two entryways for the waters of the Pacific Ocean. Two tides coming in and out each day cause an enormous volume of water to pass through this area, which in turn brings cold, nutrient-rich water up towards the surface. These nutrients stimulate growth and lay the foundation for a robust food web. All sorts of animals come to this location to enjoy the spoils – including killer whales. Our guests were invited aboard Zodiacs this morning to explore the diverse, wild habitats. Fox Creek proved incredibly enjoyable as an afternoon activity. We spent time hiking through a beach meadow with grasses as tall as an adult human. This area was full of bear trails that led each group to a different spot: beach meadow, intertidal, forest floor, streambed, and even to a waterfall. We bushwhacked through the bear trails and found many interesting sights, including perennial bear tracks. These tracks persist year after year as bears make their way to the intertidal zones from their wintering dens. A truly magnificent journey led each of us to a special place just for us. Somewhere we could enjoy true wild Alaska. We are thankful for this day.