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Icebergs, Glaciers, and Bears

Airship Goes to Alaska


We left our little cove inside Tracy Arm and cruised the 25 miles or so to South Sawyer glacier. There was far less ice to dodge than when we were here before. Far less, and far less other boat traffic as well.

Passing a seal on our way to the glacier:


We were able to get very close (but not too close) to South Sawyer. We turned off the engine and just hung out for a while, watching (and listening to) bits of glacier calve off into the water:


Here's one as we were approaching the glacier that has another boat in it, for scale:


Here are too many photos of South Sawyer glacier (and another seal we passed on the way out):



(Note on the chart plotter how close we are to the mapped glacier.)







We decided to head in to see North Sawyer glacier, since the path was so clear. (We didn’t go in there last time at all because there was SO much ice.) There was pretty much NO ice in front of North Sawyer, and we were the only ones in there (besides two kayaks), so it was all ours.



The rock in here felt really different than in South Sawyer. Dark browns and rusts and yellows and oranges (see kayak on the right for scale).


The ice was dark and packed tight, and we only saw a few little bits fall into the water.



And this one, with a seagull circled in yellow, for scale:


Waterfall near North Sawyer:


More glaciers as we headed back out Tracy Arm:


Cool growth pattern of the green on rock:


More floating ice:


We had an amazing day exploring Tracy Arm. We heard the captain of the Disney Wonder cruise ship talking to another boat on the radio, and he said that this was the closest he’s ever gotten to the glaciers. Great day to be exploring in here!

As we got close to the anchorage where we stayed last night and would stay again tonight, we spotted a brown bear on the shore with two cubs…but the two cubs were really dark…like black bears. The sows and cubs we've seen before have all been the same color. Anyone know what the deal is with this bunch?


Also, bald eagles on an iceberg (again):


Back at unnamed cove, we anchored almost where we’d anchored the night before, and no sooner were finished anchoring when we noticed a brown bear on shore. We watched it for a bit, and then watched a guy in a dinghy setting crab traps who looked like he didn’t see the bear at all (and due to the compression of this long lens shot, looks VERY close to the grizzly, doesn’t he?)


The bear stood up and looked left (away from the dinghy) as it noticed another bear.


They saw each other, and the new bear ran toward the bear that was already there.


They approached each other slowly, and then began a casual chase up the shore.



They stopped and faced off, and then stood and wrestled with each other, while making growly bear sounds that carried well across the water so we could HEAR them growling/roaring/playing/fighting. They did this several times…chasing, facing off, wrestling, walk away…chasing, facing off, wrestling, walk away. We could see and hear ALL of it. It was super cool. We all thought (and said out loud, several times) “I can’t believe we even get to see this!” 🙂




Oh, then rainbow over icebergs:


And misty clouds in the trees:


Dinner was a hearty soup with pulled pork and veggies, with a side of garlic bread.

Our original plan was to next go into Endicott Arm and to Ford’s Terror (entering at high slack around 3pm), but since it was only 20nm away, we had some time and decided to go north for a bit in Stephens Passage to see if we could get some internet for a few work things.

Very large iceberg just outside of our anchorage as we left:



We went for quite a ways though with no hint of any connection, so we opted to go up to Taku Harbor for the night. We knew we’d gotten connected just outside the harbor, so Plan B it was. We floated around in Stephens Passage with internet for a bit and did some work, and then headed into Taku Harbor toward the free public dock. It’s busy in here at this time of year and the dock was almost full, but we got a spot and then took the 7 year old onto shore to burn some energy on the trails and the giant rope swing. 

Crab traps went out and we grilled some halibut for dinner, with a side of spinach ravioli and asparagus.

In the morning the weather was super crappy and the forecast was not looking great for our cruise back down to Ford's Terror, so we opted for another night in Taku Harbor. We caught a bunch of crab, hiked around the old cannery, and took advantage of the docks and the swing for some exercise. Bummer that we didn't get back to Ford's Terror, but we can't really complain. At all.