Our last full day onboard the National Geographic Quest began with some stunning morning light filtering through the clouds as we approached Hoonah Sound. A few humpback whales were sighted making some very lazy shallow dives. Our plan for the morning was to explore Ushk Bay with a variety of hikes and expedition landing craft cruises. As the morning operations came to an end, our young Global Explorers had a landing craft driving lesson. Lunch followed as the ship headed into Sergius Narrows and toward Sitka, where we will disembark early tomorrow after a full week of exploring Southeast Alaska.
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.