Go West Old Man - Fall 2005 travel blog


Alaskan moss

Seal Island

bald eagle

whale tail


glacier close up

seals on ice

passengers on watch

two glaciers

We were awakened at the ungodly hour of 6:30am by the dulcet tones of our cruise director and the music of James Taylor. He wanted to insure that we arose in time to take an hour walk at Bartlett Cove in Glacier Bay National Park. This area is a lush rain forest and we were surprised to learn that it was covered with ice only two hundred years ago. We were also surprised when our naturalist told us that this forest is in crisis, not because of man made pollution, but because too many plants grew too big too fast and the soil was only inches thick and nutrient poor. Decomposition happens very slowly here in this cold climate and the plants are slowly starving to death. I was fascinated by all the mushrooms and fungi on the forest floor. I'd like to go picking with someone who knew which ones would not do me in.

Then a park ranger got onboard our ship and spent the day sharing her knowledge about flora, fauna, geology, history and answering questions. As we sailed further into Glacier Bay the clouds hung low and it rained at times and we wondered whether our glacier viewing would be theoretical. We were distracted by an orca whole who put on a show for us thrusting its tail into the air at least thirty times - this is called lob tailing. It was such an energizer bunny that there was no excuse not to get a photo of this acrobatic show. In stark contract extremely lethargic sea lions draped themselves across the rocks and barely noticed our presence.

As we rounded the last corner, the sky began to clear and an enormous glacier loomed, surrounded by smaller tongues of ice. An advantage to being on such a small ship is its maneuverability. As we sailed ever closer we began to hear banging as the hull hit the ice chunks that had broken off and were floating all around us. It was hard not to think of the Titanic. I suppose moving at walking speed would have kept the dents in the hull to a minimum. As we sailed within one quarter of a mile, it started to calf, large chunks of ice broke off and splashed into the sea. The roar made me think of thunderstorms or cannons firing. As the sky got bluer and clearer the shutters snapped. It was hard to select just a few photos to share. Hope they give you a taste of a wonderful day.

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