Today started out cold, gloomy, overcast and raining a little bit. We slept in again, still tired from picking Mike up at the airport yesterday. After breakfast we headed out to see Exit Glacier which is in the Kenai Fjords National Park. The park was about an 8 mile drive in from Seward Highway, it was very scenic but we did not see any wildlife. Once we arrived there was a nice visitor's center and a map of the park. The park covers the Harding Icefield (more than 500 sq. miles of ice) which feeds the numerous glaciers around the park. The icefield is estimated to be more than a mile thick in some places! We hiked around a mile into see Exit Glacier; there were signs along the trail marking where it had reached in previous years. 50 years ago it was more than a half mile longer than it is today. There were moose pellets along the way but no moose were to be seen.
After seeing the glacier we returned to the trailer, had lunch and hitched up. We parked the trailer in the Kenai Fjords Tours parking lot and went to start our boat tour from Seward to Holgate Glacier. By this time the temp had risen to the 60's and the sun was shinning. The sun really improved our spirits for the trip. The views along the whole trip were spectacular, as was the wildlife. The first animal we saw was a Sea Otter that was floating on its back. We then came across a Harbor Seal and a Bald Eagle. We saw a few young bald eagles that had not grown their white feathers yet. Sea lions, Fin whales and Humpback whales all came next. We saw various birds, including Puffins nesting in the cliffs of the islands. They served us dinner on the boat while we were sitting and looking at Holgate glacier. The boat was about a quarter of a mile from the glacier. There were sounds of rifle shots coming from the glacier. Those are the sound created by the moving ice as is fractures. We were able to see one medium sized piece break off and several small ones. We also view mountain goats on the mountain next to the glacier. Dinner was decent, nothing spectacular but the view made up for that.
On our way back the most notable thing we saw was a group of Orca whales. There were probably a dozen whales that we followed for quite a while. A couple of the Orca's came up right next to the boat! In fact one came up immediately in front of the boat. It was great that weather cleared up for the trip for the first time since Mike arrived. We could not have asked for a better day. By the way the boat was brand new in April 2007. It was a catamaran hull and was very comfortable.
Upon arriving back we loaded up in the truck and headed down the road. Not sure where we'll end up staying tonight but we'll put our long day of driving in tomorrow in a push to get close to Denali. We ended up parked along the road with a great view about 50 miles from Seward.