Sunday, July 22, 2012

Glacier Bay - Tuesday July 16

Photos, top to bottom:  Glacier Bay National Park - rangers arriving; Junior Rangers Reed & Bret; Margerie Glacier; stellar sea lion mama & 2 pups; Reid Glacier

Into amazing Glacier Bay for the day. Naturalist Rachel was at the bridge, talking about wildlife and pointing out humpback whales in the Icy Strait area. Bryn went to the back of the ship to spot some, while the boys stayed on the balcony and saw many. We had a gloriously clear day, a bit of clouds along the mountaintops but mostly blue and bright.

From our balcony, we watched the NPS boat approach, then Rangers Brad, Sarah and Rebecca boarded the ship. Ranger Sarah gave presentations to the different kid clubs, and boys earned Glacier Bay National Park Junior Ranger Badges. Randy and Bryn attended a talk by Ranger Rebecca in the theater. Ranger Brad stayed on the bridge and gave a commentary on the natural, native, and more recent history of Glacier Bay. John Muir came here in 1879 to verify his hypothesis that Yosemite Valley was a glacial valley and not a result of earthquakes, as had been the current thinking then. Most of Glacier Bay was actually a glacier when he visited, there has been much glacial retreat since then. The biggest tidewater glacier we saw here was the Marjerie Glacier, a mile across. The Grand Pacific Glacier has retreated so it is not very visible from the water. We did a lot of glacier gazing, and 'spectacular' is the word that kept coming out of Randy's mouth. We saw a little bit of calving, but small pieces, nothing large. The glaciers were noisy, with lots of pops and cracking noises. The wonderful sound of calving is called 'white thunder,' it is really loud and impressive. After the rangers left the ship, Rachel took over and continued a commentary on wildlife. We saw some more humpbacks as we exited Glacier Bay, some bald eagles, plus some dolphins or porpoises – they're quick! The nights are not quite as long as we are heading south. We are still in bed before sunset, although Randy tries to get up and check to see if the sky is clear and if the aurora borealis is visible. So far, cloudy skies during our little bit of dark night.

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