Perspective is easy to lose in Alaska. Snow-capped mountains tower thousands of feet overhead before plunging into the ocean where they hit the seabed hundreds of feet below. On the steep vertical cliffs of granite, sixty-foot tall Sitka spruce look as though they are shrubs clasped onto these precarious precipices. National Geographic Sea Bird, a sizable expedition vessel, is but a speck winding through these massive fjords. Of all places to feel this perspective, Misty Fjords is one of the best due to the immense features displayed here. Waking up in this location was a jaw-dropping introduction to Southeast Alaska.

For our morning excursion, we set out to explore Walker Cove via kayak and Zodiac. The cliff walls shoot straight out of the ocean here, which in itself is incredible and made even more so by the countless waterfalls cascading down them. Calm waters and light winds complemented by the silence of solitude gave us an inviting ground to become acquainted with the temperate rainforest. Seabirds and eagles fished on the shorelines and dove into the deep waters in search of prey. Marbled murrelets were abundant, a great indicator of the health of the forest and sea. The cliff walls showed us the intertidal zone and all the organisms that occupy it, a delightful window into a lesser seen portion of the world.

Equally as enthralling as the geology of Misty Fjords is the wildlife that inhabits it. In the afternoon, we searched for what might swim by and give us a glance. Harbor porpoises, yellow-billed loons, American minks, and even a lone humpback whale traversed Behm Canal as we sailed along glass calm seas.

The abundance of beauty and life we saw today was a clear testament to why this area deserves the protections it is given. It is truly a privilege to spend time in such a pristine wilderness, and it was a perfect start to our expedition this week.