Thursday, June 13, 2013

Sawyer Glacier at the end of Tracy Arm Fjord

Alaska. What a beautiful place. Gary and I have just returned from our second cruise to Alaska, and I doubt it will be our last. This cruise was about a month earlier in the season than the last one and we had more rain and wind. But there was a feeling of the mystical with the drizzle and low-hanging clouds, especially on the morning we cruised into Tracy Arm Fjord. 

Vertical rock faces on all sides, with bits of vegetation working roots into tiny fissures, were mesmerizing. Spring runoff was pouring down creating waterfalls everywhere. The deeper we went into the fjord, more glacier bits were seen floating in the water, until we turned the last bend and saw the awesome Sawyer glacier. With more clouds in the sky, the glacier blue color was intensified, but as we arrived, the clouds parted just a bit to allow bits of sunlight through. Stunning. 

Out there on those flat-topped icebergs were harbor seals, several having recently given birth to pups. I'm so glad I brought my binoculars or I would not have seen nearly as many as I did. Later in the day I saw the spurt of a whale and his back - that's the only whale we saw all trip. The eagles weren't out in force this time of year as they will be when the salmon start coming in, but we did see a few.

The stop in Ketchikan was far too brief, so we just planned to walk around the town. Of course, the rain came in on us, so we found a coffee shop to catch up on our social media and enjoyed a fantastic, rich breve - best I've ever had. Next stop was supposed to be Victoria, B.C., but the ship had some problems with the side thrusters and with the wind blowing as hard as it was, the captain opted to anchor out in the harbor, stranding everyone on board the ship - all excursions cancelled. The crew really rallied for us pulling out an old show to put on in the theatre, after having set up the stage for the show for the first night of the next cruise, and pulling costumes out of the laundry, lol. Elsewhere on the ship, the entertainers found themselves with packed rooms. We stopped to listen to the goofiest guy hosting a "Name That Tune" contest - so funny!

In Juneau we rented a car to explore what we could - there's absolutely no way to get lost there because you cannot drive beyond about 30 miles north of town. So we found some very pretty turnouts, explored around the Shrine of St. Therese, then got rained out. So of course we found the tasting room for the Alaskan Brewing Company where you do not have to pay to taste their brews - amazing!

In Skagway, the wind was very brisk at times and the clouds were topping the mountains all around, and it drizzled on us a bit so we decided to not spend the money to take the train up the White Pass. (From reports, the weather was fine and Gary would have gotten some great pics, but now we'll have an excuse to return.) Instead we did an informative walk with a park ranger for an hour or so on the history of Skagway. Then we decided to take a little hike up the hill - just a half mile up to this little lake. Problem was it was practically straight up at some points, lol, and rocky, so it was slow going for us. Those hiking boots I bought were invaluable though! The exercise was good for us too.

So that was our trip in a nutshell. Since it's so easy for us to drive to Seattle to catch a cruise ship, I'm sure we'll be looking for another deal to cruise back to Alaska sometime soon. But I have to admit that I'm glad to be home in the sunshine!


viv said...

What a great trip report. It's on my bucket list. Love and hugs to you and yours.

Brigitte said...

I have just finished reading your report and I really really would like to make this trip as well. What a fantastic adventure!

Lynn said...

Such a stunningly beautiful photo! A cruise to Alaska has been on our bucket list for some time. I saw photos from my cousin's cruise there and was hooked from then on. You are so lucky to have easy access to the cruise ships.