Alaska  - June  -  2013

 
Gail and I were off for another cruise to Alaska on board the Holland America ship Amsterdam. We were joined once again by our Daughter Tracy and husband Paul. In addition Michelle, who works with Tracy in Australia, and her Husband Gary sailed with us on their first ocean cruise.

The Photo to the left was taken as we sailed from Canada Place in Vancouver and about to pass under Lion’s Gate Bridge. Stanley Park on the right of the photo.
The itinerary on this trip was to sail 1,000 miles directly from Vancouver to Glacier Bay, only part of which would be on the Inside Passage, and most of it on the open sea. The skies closed in on us and we dealt with bouncy seas, fog and rain for a day and a half. But Saturday morning we awoke to the beautiful sight above. We were about 25 miles from the entrance to Glacier Bay, and the view was spectacular. The layer of fog was breaking up as the sun climbed higher in the sky.
The number of ships allowed within Glacier Bay at any one time is restricted, and each ship takes on a guide from the US Forest Service who provide commentary and advice during the cruise up the 60 mile length of the bay. The photo on the left shows a pilot boat bringing out the guide for our trip, just after we have entered the Bay.
There are numerous Glaciers emptying into the Bay. The one pictured on the right is a smaller glacier entering the sea. In addition there are many others which advance but do not get to the shoreline, called elevated glaciers. See one below to the left.
the most famous glacier in Glacier bay is called the Margerie Glacier, see the two photo’s below. It is spectacular primarily because of its very blue-white ice, its height at 250 feet above the water, and the constant calving of huge slabs falling off the face of it. The photo on the right was taken during an ice fall, and the floating remnants are visible. What cannot be seen in the photo are the thousands of birds who dash in following such a crash to feed on insects and fish stirred up from the bottom. The face of this glacier is one mile wide as it enters the water, and the ice field feeding it is 21 miles in length.
The Grand Pacific Glacier is the dark streak above as it enters the waters of Glacier Bay. You are looking due north and into Canada as the glaciers terminus is virtually on the Canada / US border. It is two miles in width as it enters the water, about 150 feet high and stretches back into Canada about 35 miles. As opposed to the Margerie right beside it, it is almost black in colour as a result of landslides and moraines buried in the ice.
We were in Glacier Bay for about 10 hours and the photo at the left was taken as we left this very unique part of earth.

Despite the sounds of a large ship churning through the waters, everything seems so peaceful and quiet. 

It is a lesson in how much of our has world evolved. From fully treed mountains at the entry to bare rock and lichen at the end of the Bay, a distance of 60 miles that has evolved over about 200 years as the glaciers retreated.
First Stop - Glacier Bay
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