The first moment of daybreak told of the magical day ahead. The first light shot a low angle of brilliance across the water. When it reached the foothills of the Fairweather Range, a rainbow appeared. That was just the beginning.
We were deep into the west arm of Glacier Bay National Park and headed to the massive rivers of ice, the glaciers. Our first destination would put us in front of the Margerie and Grand Pacific Glaciers. That was not to be. At 6:45 a.m., we found ourselves surrounded by icebergs, growlers, and bergy bits that reached from one side of the inlet to the other. Slowly, we turned and watched the day emerge upon the smooth stone surfaces of Johns Hopkins Inlet. Harbor seals slept upon their cold, white iceberg beds. Occasionally, gulls flew past in tight formation. We were enveloped in stunningly beautiful silence. It filled our ears like music that we had never heard before. It was compelling and powerful. Then the glacier began its crashing of ice into the water and the thundering sounds that created. The glaciers that look so still and quiet are neither of those things.
The rest of the day we explored inlets and rocky knobs in search of the animals who live here. Brown bears jumped in salmon streams, splashing their way to their next slippery meal. Mountain goats crossed precipices that looked impossible to achieve. A lone male killer whale patrolled the islands of the bay. Sea otters were everywhere. They floated over 1,100 feet of water. They rafted close to shore, and they slept right in the middle of boat traffic. Sea lions growled, and puffins flew in endless circles around their nesting island. All day, we lived in their world. All day, we were outside. We finished the day tired and happy, knowing what it means to be drenched in wilderness.