Daybreak aboard National Geographic Sea Bird was cool and overcast – a befitting beginning to our forays into Misty Fjords National Monument. At 0700, Expedition Leader Taylor Butz woke those still sleeping off the excitement of our killer whale spectacular the evening prior to come out and enjoy New Eddystone Rock. The staff spent the morning discussing some of the folklore surrounding the island and whether there was legitimacy to claims of burials on the shore and summits of the spire. Much of Southeast Alaska is shrouded in lore that, although factually dubious, adds distinct character to this place. As morning pressed on, we cruised deeper into the fjord, eventually anchoring and launching Zodiacs and kayaks. Guests cruising in Zodiacs were treated to expert interpretation from veteran Naturalists Linda Burback and Jim Coyer while kayakers enjoyed independence and the grand silence of wilderness. Regardless of their chosen method of exploration, each guest found themselves in awe of the landscape around them. Following a successful morning of operations, the bravest among us took the “Polar Plunge” into the frigid waters of the fjord. Those not keen to take the dip themselves cheered from the bow.

The afternoon was a time for gentle cruising through the fjord. We scanned the horizon for wildlife flanked by the occasional marbled murrelet and glaucous-winged gull. Waterfalls and pockets of remnant winter snow provided aesthetic variation along the otherwise lush, green walls of the fjord. It turned out that black, too, stands out quite vividly against a backdrop of green – this proved helpful as we spotted three black bears chowing down in the sedge meadows of the coast. Some opted to remain in the forward lounge to play games, enjoy conversation, and continue to kindle their new friendships. As this is evening winds to a close, we anxiously await the world premiere of our voyage slideshow - the culmination of dozens of individual perspectives on a week well spent.