It was an early morning for those out on the bow of National Geographic Venture. Under low clouds and with a cool temperature of 45 degrees, the South Sawyer Glacier was still some five miles ahead but already in partial view. We were surrounded by continuous steep fjord walls with exposures of folded and fractured metasedimentary and metavolcanic rocks cut by veined swarms of granite.
Just after passing the North Sawyer Glacier fjord on our port side, we set anchor as we prepared for Zodiac explorations closer to the leading edge of the South Sawyer Glacier.
The clouds lifted, giving us a clear view of the glacier and the upper reaches of the surrounding fjord. We spotted a group of five mountain goats on one of the perennial snowfields high above the tidewater.
As we approached the terminus of the glacier, we maneuvered the Zodiacs through the brash ice and growlers to the larger bergy bits and largest icebergs.
As we got closer, we observed perhaps hundreds of harbor seals lounging on the larger bergs. Fjords with tidewater glaciers offer good calving grounds for harbor seals. The seals are under less pressure from killer whales, and the abundant bergs offer an opportunity for pups and adults to stay away from the shore and the bears that roam around looking for them.
The Sawyer Glacier descends to tidewater from the Stikine Ice Field. The Canadian border is only some five miles east of the terminus of the South Sawyer Glacier. We enjoyed a few calving events at the glacier face from the safe distance of about 0.50 miles. They were loud and spectacular.
While watching the glacier, the Viking hot chocolate boat snuck up behind us and offered us a warm and sweet drink to help us endure the chilly morning.
After a warm lunch, we repositioned National Geographic Venture. Many of the guests enjoyed an hour of kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding in the North Sawyer Glacier fjord where spectacular waterfalls mark the landscape.