Wow! What a day. We woke early to a clear morning in Tracy Arm Cove. Still rubbing the sleep from our eyes, we were amazed to see a brown bear ambling along the beach toward us! It came closer and closer until it was on the beach directly behind us sniffing our shore tie lines. After deciding that the lines were not good eating, the bear continued on its way.
We broke up our raft and got underway with much still ahead to see. Today we planned to travel through the Tracy Arm Fjord all the way up to the Sawyer Glacier. Both the South Sawyer Glacier and the Sawyer Glacier are tidewater glaciers, meaning the extend all the way to sea level. Both glaciers have been retreating rapidly in the past years and the South Sawyer Glacier has been calving at a rapid rate as well.
As we traveled through the fjord the channel narrowed and the mountains steepened on either side. Cruising a mere 40 ft. from shore we still had over 900 ft. of water under our boats. Surrounded by such magnitude, it is difficult to get a sense of scale on the landscape. We passed sheer granite cliff walls with birds nesting among the small cracks and ledges, ice bergs of all shapes, sizes and colors, and many waterfalls rushing down the mountain sides.
As we neared the glacier, the amount of ice in the water thickened, the air grew colder and the color of the water grew cloudy from all the silt eroded by the giant, moving mass of ice in front of us. We maneuvered our boats through the ice, watching the hundreds of harbor seals hauled out on icebergs and listening to the grumble of the glacier, almost as though it were a living creature. As if on cue, an enormous mass of ice broke free from the glacier and crashed into the water right in front of us! The splash it sent up was far over our heads and moments later we were rocking in the 4 ft waves it created. A truly unforgettable experience!
Our amazing wildlife sightings continued with more bear sightings on the beach and even a small pod of killer whales swimming past some of the boats out fishing! After rafting back in Tracy Arm cove, we shared a lovely evening full of more good food and conversation hosted by the crew of Inception. As we sat onboard and watched the sun slowly set, sipping drinks cooled by glacial ice, we were all exactly where we wanted to be.