Alaska Flotilla: Leg 5, Day 3 – Tracy Arm Cove to Sawyer Glaciers | NW Explorations


Alaska Flotilla: Leg 5, Day 3 – Tracy Arm Cove to Sawyer Glaciers

This morning dawned bright with the promise of clear skies.  We excitedly broke up our raft and were underway by 8am.  Off to see the tidewater glaciers!   As we left the cove, the thin fog lifted and we were greeted by the forceful blow of a humpback whale.  As we continued on, the fjord narrowed and deepened and soon we were surrounded by towering granite cliffs on either side.

The further we traveled the more ice we encountered.  Deep blue masses floating benignly on the surface, the silty water hiding what might lie below.  Their faces and edges sculpted into fabulous shapes as they slowly melt.  The mountainsides steepened as well and fewer trees hung from the sheer cliffs.  Waterfalls of all shapes and sizes cascaded down the fjord walls and sent the sound of running water echoing from wall to wall.

We slowed to a crawl and carefully navigated through the ice.  Deception led the group and cautiously pushed the ice out of the way.  As we worked our way around the bend the south Sawyer Glacier came into view.  This glacier has been retreating so quickly in the past few years, that the mouth of the bay was completely full of ice and we couldn’t approach too close.  Still, we were rewarded with great views of the ice mass.

Next, we traveled north to the main Sawyer glacier.  This glacier was more stable and less ice was in the water, so we were able to get a lot closer to it.  We also were able to see small pieces calve off.  Even though they looked small from where we were, the tremendous crash that they made as they hit the water echoed around the bay.  Even though the glaciers are receding, they are still incredibly impressive to behold.

As we traveled back to Tracy Arm Cove, we spotted a black bear on the shoreline!  Then, back at anchor, humpback whales swam right past the mouth of the cove.  Some of us took a short beach walk in order to stretch our legs.  On a short dinghy ride, we managed to spot a brown bear walking on the beach and another humpback whale fishing off the point.  After a full day of beautiful scenery and wildlife, each crew spent quiet nights on their boats.

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