We had so much fun in Glacier Bay that we had to go back. But first, we spent a few days in Juneau to do some major shopping at Costco and Fred Meyer. The freezers are full, we saved some bucks, saw some friends, and we headed back towards the park. We had a nice bit of alpenglow at Swanson Harbor along the way…
…and then we were back to masses of barking sea lions…
…swarms of nesting gulls – so many that when a bald eagle came too close it was like a scene from Hitchcock’s “The Birds”!
The numbers of tufted puffins are definitely down this year, and the rangers told us it was due to a lack of food. Climate Change is making a negative impact on sea birds in Alaska at an alarming rate. There were a small number of tufted puffins…
…and we spotted a couple of horned puffins again – a rare treat.
We headed farther up-bay to look for wildlife in Tidal Inlet. We loved the colors on the mountains near there, enhanced by the light and shade from the clouds.
We looked for mountain goats on Gloomy Knob but they must have been hiding on the back side of the ridge. We continued on up to look for wildlife behind Russell Island, but had no joy there either, except for the cool interface between silty glacier meltwater (the putty color) and the sea water.
This sea otter was impressed!
We anchored by the Reid glacier for the night, then ventured out for a morning tour of the Johns Hopkins glacier (the most dramatic setting of the bay’s glaciers, I think), as well as a few of its neighbors.
We couldn’t get any closer to the glacier even though the inlet was very ice-free, because seals still had young pups in there. They’re vulnerable to the cold water until they’re about six weeks old.
The Lamplugh, the most blue of Glacier Bay’s glaciers, is no longer a tidewater glacier – it no longer calves into salt water except at unusually high tides. It’s so sad to see how much it has changed in just a few years.
The low tide gave people a chance to take a skiff or a kayak ashore to explore the big grounded bergy bits. The relatively tiny people makes us realize how massive this ice river is.
The Margerie glacier was pretty in the early afternoon light, and the ice-free inlet allowed us to venture pretty far north so we could see the glacier snake its way down through the mountains.
The little bit of ice floating near the glaciers offers food for the imagination – like this ice dragon.
And the clear skies let us see the Fairweather mountain range along the ocean coast about 50 miles away, and I especially liked this peak with a beautiful lenticular cloud.
The summer solstice has passed and that means that the days are starting to get shorter, albeit by only a minute per day right now. But that will accelerate to 4-5 minutes of loss per day in another month or two. It’s a sad thought, going from 18 hours of daylight to six and a half hours by the winter’s solstice in late December. I woke up early one morning, before 4am, and had to photograph the pastel pre-dawn light over the mountains. The only good thing about the winter solstice is that we can sleep in, enjoy a cup of coffee, and still have time to catch the sunrise.