Alaska

6/2: Glacier Bay Continues to Amaze

 

 It was now just after 3pm, and we still had a ways to go to get to Margerie Glacier.  Most folks had gone back inside to take a break, but a few of us hung out on the bow to follow the action and just enjoy the ride.

 

The humpbacks weren’t done with us – we saw one dive not too far from the ship. Then, we saw a big splash farther away.  There was a humpback out there slapping his tail in the water – with a lot of zoom we could barely see what was causing the commotion. He may have been breaching before as well.

 

Here we are, trying to figure out what all the splashing was about.  The gentleman with the binoculars was the official wildlife spotter – he had a good eye and was always out checking for all of us. He and Lou were the best spotters.

 

Ranger Fay told us we should start seeing more Mountain Goats soon, so we’re scanning for them – they’re still far away.  Each cabin is supplied with a pair of binoculars for your use during the cruise.

 

We did see a pair of eagles building a nest:

 

 

And then, someone spotted a wolf on shore (I think it was Ranger Fay, but not sure).  The word was quickly whispered along, since we weren’t using the loudspeakers out in the quiet bay.  Can you spot the wolf in the following photo?

 

Don’t worry, I couldn’t either.  I was looking in the wrong place – it was further down the shore line:

Seeing a wolf from the ship is fairly rare, so we considered this our lucky day.  We watched for quite a while, being quiet and careful not to disturb the wolf as he or she foraged for something to eat under the rocks.

 

As we came upon Gloomy Knob, it was Mountain Goat time!  We saw several Nannies with their kids along the lower part of the cliffs, down near the water. You had to look closely to find them, and it was easier to follow them with the camera zoom.

 

Zooming in (and cropping the photo): we get a better look at the goats.  The little ones were hopping around, having a good time:

June2Part3-30

 

In the next series, you can see how little Billy starts to follow Mom, then decides he’s not so sure.  Mom comes back and leads him to another path:

 

Color me happy, very happy with the way the day had progressed.  I lost Lou with the mountain goats – I think he was worn out from all the excitement of the day and my enthusiasm, as I proclaimed each new wildlife sighting my favorite of the day..  We took a break to prepare for dinner (Alaskan Cod with Salsa Verde), and then it was time to get back outside and check out Margerie Glacier.  I will admit to being zonked by this time – while we took a few photos of the glacier, it was just too much wonder and awe for one day – not a bad problem to have.

 

The views did not disappoint as we cruised to Margerie Glacier; we saw a few whales in the distance as well.

 

We arrived at Margerie Glacier as we were having dinner; it is 55 miles from Bartlett Cove so we covered some ground, especially since we stopped so often. This is a tidewater glacier, meaning it gets enough snow that it still pushes forward into the bay.  It is known for lots of calving – I believe there was some, but we missed it.

 

Margerie Glacier is approximately a mile wide at the face, and it stretches 21 miles back to the mountain range at the Alaska/Canada border.  It is about 350 feet tall, with 250 feet above water and 100 ft below.

200 years ago, Glacier Bay was solid ice, and since then many of the glaciers have receded, but Margerie is considered stable. There are 8 glaciers in the National Park that extend into Glacier Bay, and we’ll have a chance to see some of them tomorrow. Check here for more information on glaciers in Glacier Bay.

 

The mountainous terrain surrounding the glacier was also interesting:

 

You can see how rocks and dirt have been woven into the texture of the glacier as it pushes forward.

 

Our fellow passengers enjoying the glacier at 8:30pm

 

It was after 9pm by the time we pulled away from the glacier, headed to our anchorage at Reid Glacier:

 

What a day!!!

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