A hot cup of coffee complimented the light drizzle that fell upon the freshly waxed fiberglass of the Mother Goose fleet. The experience of waking up in the protection of No Name Cove inside Tracy Arm is not something one should ever forget. Looking out the portlight many wonderful icy blue islands float past as the icebergs make the twenty-mile journey from their respective glaciers to the open sea. It was a small dose to what the day would shape into as the group headed north to seek out the source of these icebergs.
Within minutes of being underway a humpback surprised the crew of Deception off her starboard. Performing a deep dive, the back bends almost until it looks broken before you see the magnificent fluke stand erect and gently slips below the surface. Although the fjord is narrow, the waters are deep, very deep. At a depth of 1200ft, Tracy Arm Inlet is a reminder of the gigantic ancestral glaciers responsible for sculpting these majestic canyons.
Rounding the corner the fleet were bombarded with everything from tiny little bergy bits to massive icebergs dwarfing the bigger cruise ships in the passage. It was a dazzling display of high fjords with millions of gallons of water cascading down steep granite cliffs. Accenting the steep rock blueberries, wildflowers, and brightly colored mosses clung to the terraces. The scale was impressive inside the fjord with dozens of hanging valleys carved by smaller glaciers thousands of years ago.
Taking a hard left before Sawyer Island, Deception cruised at “one bell,” or dead slow to safely weave a path through the ice. The bow has a steel plate on the stem to strengthen her hull as she plows the smaller bergy bits providing ample roomy for the rest of the fleet. The visual spectrum was tantalizing with deep, oxidizing shades of orange and red from the mineral deposits in the granite that meets an emerald waterway full of icebergs, growlers, and bergy bits until our gaze met the wall of ice.
An elegant wall standing 400ft tall proudly marked the terminus of South Sawyer Glacier. What a view! Deep blues from the dense glacier ice was beautifully striated with dark layers of till giving a unique contrast to this powerful erosion process. Sumdum is Tlingit tribe for “the thunderous calving of glaciers” as massive blocks of ice shift, crack, and tumble into the water. We could have sat on the bow for hours listening to the ice like a thunderstorm on the distant horizon on a hot summer’s day, clapping thunder and streaks of lightening, only this was far better.
It was truly an awesome display of Mother Nature; definitely the highlight of the trip up to Juneau. The little swab, Pascal on Deception, was a real natural at photography, too. Turns out it’s all too easy taking hundreds of photos with such scenery! Everyone was very excited to finally see the glaciers and we all feel fortunate for making the trip aboard the Mother Goose Flotilla.