This past week has come and gone so fast, it's hard to believe our time in Glacier Bay is over already! It has been an incredible week full of glaciers, tall mountains and all kinds of wildlife! From humpback whales, bear vs wolf brawl, swimming grizzlies, and too many bald eagles to count, this area is crawling with wildlife in every corner. Between the wildlife and the beautiful glaciers, it is no wonder John Muir spent large portions of his life in the bay.
Last Tuesday we departed from Juneau on a rainy foggy afternoon. Our permit for Glacier Bay didn't begin until Thursday, so we had some time to get there. Uneventfully, we motored to a bay called Barlow Cove and found an anchorage at the end. Oh a whim, we decided to set the crab trap and after about an hour, Kevin checked it and three small halibut found their way in there! It wasn't the crab feast we had expected, but that cooked with another small fish my dad caught, we had a decent meal.
Wednesday we took off from Barlow Cove and were greeted with a pod of humpbacks feeding off the coast. Luckily they were traveling along the same course we were so we stuck with them for a while. They would dive for minutes at a time, and when they came up, they would all emerge at the same time in a feeding frenzy- it was wild! It was quite the event to watch. We put up the sails and made great time that morning. At one point, we stopped the boat and decided to cast the fishing reels. The fish were jumping everywhere, and my dad and I each caught a salmon! With two large salmon, we were eating fish for days. We had made such great time that day, we decided to call Glacier Bay on the satellite phone and request to enter the park a day early, which they granted, so we found ourselves in Bartlett Cove for the night.
Glacier Bay National Park Preserve is highly regulated to help preserve the wilderness for the many animals that live there. It is permitted (up to 7 consecutive days) and only about 30 private boats and 2 cruise ships are allowed in each day. There are designated "whale waters" near the entrance where boaters have to stay one mile off shore. There are also other inlet closures and distance restrictions from various islands to allow for the seals, sea lions and birds to inhabit the land without disturbance. On Thursday morning, we went to be mandatory boaters information seminar at the ranger station and my dad and I walked around the lodge area while Kevin went to Gustavus, a small town nearby, to pickup a package at the post office.
It was cloudy and we couldn't see much, so we decided to anchor in a bay about 20 miles away. We entered North Finger Cove first to look for a good anchorage, but were having trouble finding somewhere that was shallow enough, but not too shallow. Just when we were giving up to move on to another bay, we spotted two large grizzles on the beach. As we watched, we saw a grey wolf approach one of the grizzlies and challenged it several times. We weren't sure what they were fighting over, and they soon moved out our view, so we couldn't see what ended up happening, but it was very cool to watch (from the safe distance of the boat!). It was a reminder of how truly wild it is there! We then moved on to find anchorage in South Fingers Cove where it was a little shallower.
It rained and was foggy all day on Friday. We were beginning to wonder what the hype was about this place, having not really been able to see any of the surrounding terrain. We anchored in a bay called Blue Mouse Cove and hung out for the afternoon while the weather persisted. Finally, on Saturday morning, the clouds lifted and we could see the many tall mountains that surrounded the bay. In the distance I could see snowy peaks that ranged from 6,000'-15,000'. We headed out and at one point my dad pointed out that there was a grizzly swimming in the water! We stopped the boat so it could continue on, but that's certainly not something you see everyday!
It was a great glacier viewing day, so we went up Tarr Inlet and got to see the Margerie Glacier. We sat there for a while while the glacier cracked and made sounds, just waiting to see it calf off, but it never did. We them moved on to the Johns Hopkins Inlet and saw the glacier ther as well. We couldn't get very close due to thick ice and hundreds of seals hanging out in the ice! We then found anchorage in Reid Inlet, which at its base has a non-tidewater glacier. It's a shallow bay so we were able to anchor right at the base next to the glacier. That evening, Kevin and I took the dinghy over and did some exploring on and around the glacier.
Sunday, the fog returned and the drizzle started up again. We had a lazy morning and went for a walk on the beach. We then headed over to an anchorage in North Sandy Cove on the east side of Glacier Bay. With whale spouts all over in the distance, we headed out on Monday morning, back toward Bartlett Cove. My dad and I flew out from the small airport in Gustavus to Juneau yesterday afternoon. It was the fastest, most scenic flight I have ever taken- 12 minutes from takeoff to landing!
We left Kevin in Bartlett Cove to continue on his journey as he explores the northern part of southeast Alaska and then heads back down the coast toward Seattle. He will take the next two months or to complete his adventure, meeting up with friends and his dad along the way. With that, I will have to pass the blog off to him so he can keep you updated on his journey! I can't wait to hear about his adventures traveling, at times solo, aboard Antoinette!