2020 Alaska Flotilla: Leg 4: Day 9: Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier | NW Explorations


2020 Alaska Flotilla: Leg 4: Day 9: Tracy Arm and Sawyer Glacier

Morning broke gently with blue skies and glassy calm waters reflecting the massive mountains and cool blue icebergs. We set off up the fjord bright and early to allow us plenty of time for sightseeing.   We felt blessed with such a beautiful day to allow us to behold the 3,000-foot mountains rising straight up from 2,000 feet below our boats.

The immense proportions of the fjords are a breath-taking sight! They are of an unfathomable scale that is difficult to conceive or capture in a photograph; the definition of the word “awesome”. Spectacular sheer mountains rising out of turquoise waters dotted with glassy blue ice bergs. Evidence of the past glaciers are everywhere. The rock walls with their long horizontal groves and polished areas are evidence of the rocks and fine-grained material that once scraped against these fjord walls long ago.  Hanging valleys offer a glimpse into the wilderness of forests that stretch back as far as the eye can see.

Waterfalls cascade down the sheer cliffs for thousands of feet but, as you look to the very top, the water seems to have no source, it seems to simply pour down from the top. Of course, there is a source, even higher mountains that cannot be seen from our vantage point below.  As we glide past, the shape of each iceberg stretches the imagination like clouds in the sky, an elephant, a turtle, a whale?

As we reached Sawyer Island where the fjord branches into the north and south arms, the south path was clearly less obstructed so we continued to carefully work our way up to the South Sawyer glacier. Anticipation built as we drew nearer and it wasn’t long before the Sawyer glacier filled the entire valley ahead. We were especially fortunate to be the only boats present which provided us with a serene and unobstructed view. The ice field was filled with towering peaks, fractured slivers and deep crevasses. We watched silently as chucks of ice exceeding the size of our boats calved into the bay followed by loud explosive cracks!

Hundreds of seals were lazily hauled out all over the pack ice closer to the glacier and we spotted a few here and there in the cold water. Arctic terns gathered in groups on smaller ice bergs but became raucous when a bald eagle flew by too closely. As we returned to the anchorage cove, we were greeted by pigeon guillemots, mew gulls and the occasional oyster catcher all settling in for another tranquil evening.


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