S. Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness

Alex Krowiak, Naturalist/Certified Photo Instructor

  • Daily Expedition Reports
  • 14 Jul 2021

S. Sawyer Glacier, Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness, 7/14/2021, National Geographic Venture

  • Aboard the National Geographic Venture
  • Alaska

“If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water.”  Loren Eiseley


There are few places in the world where water – in all its forms - are in such spectacular display. We awoke to a soft rain gently falling into the salty seas of Southeast Alaska. An hour later, only a tender mist remained.  The hillsides were awash in countless cascades of fresh water. As we cruised further into the fjord, we were surrounded by an assortment of floating icebergs – blue and white, small and large – a few with bald eagles atop, and some hosted harbor seals with their newborn pups. And then we reached our destination – South Sawyer Glacier, a river of ice that flows downhill from the high Stikine Icefield into the cold waters of Tracy Arm.

To be honest, it was hard to know where to look: down at the tips of the icebergs with 90% of their mass below the surface, up to the mountains whose summits disappeared into the clouds, or straight into the stunning blue wall of glacial ice ahead.

Soon it was time for us to leave National Geographic Venture and venture into our small inflatable crafts for a closer look.  So far, it was a feast for the eyes, but the other senses soon came into play. When ice “calves” from the face of a glacier, a tremendous roar soon follows that is often called “white thunder.” Then a massive wave crashes into the floating bergs. It is downright impressive and we were immersed in the wonder of it all, hardly noticing the passage of time, until our hands and feet began to complain. Then miraculously, out of the mist came some friendly pirates – not to take the spoils, but rather to spoil us with hot chocolate and whipped crème.

Can any day be more perfect?  Awe-inspiring views, lots of adventure, plenty of surprises, rewarding photography, exciting wildlife…and oh, did I forget to mention the ORCAS? Yes, there is magic in the water, especially the waters of Southeast Alaska.

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