Epic Glacier Day

I keep a little journal and I thought you might like to see what I wrote about. I titled it Epic Glacier Day

May 26 – 0544  Epic Glacier Day:

Journalwoke up in front of Reid Glacier.

Actually, Epic Glacier Day (EGD) really started the day before when we dropped anchor and spent several hours ashore at Reid glacier’s snout taking pictures as part of our photography workshop cruise. EGD started by waking up anchored face to face with a massive glacier. As I prepared coffee and breakfast, I occasionally walked outside to stare at the glacier and to listen to the sounds of the glacier’s rushing meltwater streams and waterfalls. The water sounds would occasionally be interrupted by the calls of some of my favorite birds – black oystercatchers. Although small bits of ice floated in the inlet, this glacier no longer calves big icebergs into the water. It has retreated to rest on a mudflat, and high tides now only kiss Reid’s wide icy snout.

 

went to Johns Hopkins then Margerie

Small Cruise Ship David B at Reid Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska
David B at anchor in front of Reid Glacier.

We made a stop at Lamplough Glacier, which sits like a watchdog to the entrance of Johns Hopkins Inlet. The sky had cleared to a bright blue. We paid our respects to Lamplough and entered Johns Hopkins Inlet for a view of Johns Hopkins Glacier as it spilled into the inlet from the impossibly high and jagged Fairweather Mountains. After witnessing an enormous avalanche spill onto the glacier, we turned to continue EGD with our fourth and fifth glaciers – Margerie and the Grand Pacific.

spent a couple hours at Margerie in the skiff

Johns Hopkins Inlet and Glacier, Glacier Bay Alaska
Johns Hopkins Glacier and Mountains of the Fairweather Range

We anchored in Tarr Inlet about a mile away from Margerie. It had recently been active. Small bergs and brash ice floated past our anchorage. Hundreds of black-legged kittiwakes were nesting about a half-mile away. Margerie glacier is beautifully showy with the whitest ice and actively calving. The Grand Pacific seems shy and more sedentary. It’s covered in a blanket of dirt and rock, and seldom calves. It seems content to let Margerie have all the attention.

We lowered the skiff for the best part of EGD — a ride to the face of an active tidewater glacier.

 

a humpback surfaced next to the David B at anchor

Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay Alaska
Margerie Glacier

Not long after we got the skiff in the water a humpback whale entered Tarr Inlet. I surfaced twice nearby the David B, and one of the surfacings was really close to the skiff.

-6-10 sea otters on icebergs

We kept our cameras and our focus on Margerie. We waited to capture the moment that a tower of ice would fall into the water. We made bets on where ice would fall from, and we held hopes that a big one would let loose.

While watching the glacier, a group of sea otters swam along the floating ice, and an eagle landed on the great face of the glacier. No visible part of Margerie was left unphotographed. Every peak, every icy spire, every kittiwake, and every iceberg was part of this magical landscape. I felt the need to absorb it all. To capture every sight, every sound, every emotion. To hold on to this moment for as long as possible. I wanted

Small cruise ship in Glacier Bay's Tarr Inlet
David B anchored in Tarr Inlet with Margerie Glacier and the Grand Pacific Glacier.

to wrap it all up, take it home, and share it with anyone who needed a good dose of Mother Nature.

 

 

I didn’t write anymore but we remained anchored in Tarr Inlet that night. I remember that from time-to-time we could hear the boom of ice calving off Margerie, the sounds of the kittiwake colony, and the silence of nature. Magnificent mountains surrounded us. The sun dipped behind the peaks, and again another boom and more ice would be spilled.

It was the perfect Epic Glacier Day.                                                                                      

-Christine

Newsletter – Wild Brother Wolf and Skiffyasaurus

Wild Brother Wolf visits on Trip #296 May 31 – June 7, 2017

– by Christine Smith

Sometimes the quickest animal sighting stays with me the longest, especially when it comes to elusive wildlife. This past week while I was making coffee, I happened to catch some movement on the beach out of the corner of my eye. I paused the coffee grinder and looked with intent as a wolf ran along the shore.

“Where’s my camera, where’s my camera,” I whisper-shouted to Jeffrey. “What’s wrong?” Jeffrey answered back, not fully understanding my question so early in the morning. “Wolf. Beach. There.” I pointed out as I found and aimed my camera – clicking rapidly before the “wild brother” disappeared back into the forest.

The wolf trotted along. Stopped to sniff the ground several times before leaving. The whole encounter lasted not more than two minutes, but even now as I write a week later, I still get goose bumps knowing I got a glimpse of a wild wolf. For me, wolves are special. We rarely see them. In twelve years of running the David B, this is only the fourth time we’ve seen wolves. It was a treat, and one that I’m happy to share with you.

-Christine

Wild Brother Wolf one early morning in Sanford Cove
This Trip also had other Animals Such as…

Birds:
Surf Scoter, White-Winged Scoter, Common Loon, Arctic Terns, Boneparts Gulls, Marable Murrelets, Bald Eagles, Pacific Loons, Varied Thrush, Hermit Thrush, Swainsons Thrush, Pacific Wren, Junco, Stellars Jay, Red-Throated Loons, Harlequin Ducks, Pigeon Guillemots, Trumpeter Swan, Rufus Hummingbird, Raven, crow, Canada goose, Horned Grebe, robin

Mammals:
Wolf, Mountain Goat Humpback whales, Brown Bears (grizzly), seals, sea lions, harbor porpoises, deer

Seal on Ice
Also, Christine’s Meal highlight – Smoked Black Cod Risotto with caramelized onions, and mushrooms. Yum.

Introducing the Skiffyasaurus!

When the Tin Hat Project was being built, Jeffrey also decided to build a new skiff with some very unique features.

Skiffyasaurus at North Arm

Some of the new features include:

  • Seating up to 8 passengers plus crew – no more multiple trips ashore
  • More speed, range and stability for longer excursions
  • Flat bottom with easier access steps to get in and out of the skiff and onto the beach
  • Charting and Depth Finder so Jeffrey can scout new anchorages for the David B

The Skiffyasaurus’ Spacious Interior!

Dalls porpoises riding on the David B’s Bow

Small Ship Cruise Alaska Wildlife WatchingSomething I look forward to every year when we are running trips on the David B are the occasional visits by Dalls porpoises. These mid-sized sea mammals that looks deceptively like baby killer whales love to surf bow wakes. We often see them in the Inside Passage and Alaska. Usually they are foraging for fish, but sometimes, they turn their attention to the David B. It begins with seeing their characteristic rooter-tail splashing a ways off, and with surprising speed, they soon rush up alongside of the boat, and then they begin jockeying for the prime spot just in front of the boat’s stem. It’s a thrill to watch their speed and their agility.

Here’s a little complication of a few of the amazing experiences we’ve had with surfing Dalls porpoises.

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