Our cruise out of Dundas Bay was glorious in the bright morning sun. The sea otters were plentiful all the way back to the mouth of the bay. And we spotted a brown bear foraging along the mud flats exposed by the low tide.
Out in Icy Strait the mountains were glistening all around us. We cruised passed the entrance to Glacier bay, which when explored by the Russians and then George Vancouver in the 1700s was just a 20 mile long wall of ice. It was John Muir who was the first non-native person to truly explore the bay. By the time he arrived in the late 1800s 50 miles of bay was exposed. The glaciers had retreated almost a ½ mile per year. Today the bay extends nearly 80 miles. There are still ten or so active tidewater Glaciers within the bay which is now designated as a national park.
We continued to cruise down through Icy Strait in awe of the scenery and soaking in the warm sunshine. We encountered a few groups of humpback whales as we traveled, but most were off in the distance and we could only see the spouts as they surfaced and exhaled. Eldean did have one great sighting when a humpback surfaced just off their port side a few times before taking a deep dive.
On our way into Hoonah we passed the cruise ship terminal at Icy Point. This is operated by the town and services the large scale cruise traffic that is absent from Alaska this year. It was strange to go passed and see everything shut down. Typically there would be multiple 400’ ships at the docks and 1000s of their passengers out on whale watching tours, ATV tours, zip line excursions or attending traditional Tlingit dances and learning about the native culture.
We docked in the harbor and headed out to explore town and stock up on provisions before the next week out at anchor. Hoonah is a Tlingit village of about 800 people. The town has all of the modern amenities that you’d expect, but also retains a very traditional way of life and has a lot of pride in keeping the native culture alive. We felt fortunate to get to stop and chat with many of the local people and learn about their way of life. It was really neat to see members of the high school class hard at work carving a totem pole.
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