Saturday, June 30, 2018

Leaving Glacier Bay NP, Alaska: June 30, 2018

Orca Calf with amber coloration on white areas
This is our last day on the Delphinus. We're headed toward Juneau where our trip ends at Auke Bay. In Lynn Canal on our way to Juneau, we came across more orcas. This group had at least 2 calves. Sometimes the group was bunched up and sometimes they split into two or three smaller groups popping up on every side of us. Trying to take photographs was a little like playing "whack-a-mole" while standing on an upside down bosu. The water was a little rough and you never knew exactly where an orca would appear. Despite that, we photographed orcas for almost two hours.

The calves did lots of breeching and tail slapping.

Sometimes the group would explode through the water right next to the boat.

The adults also did their share of tail slapping.

It was hard to keep track of how many orcas were around us, but this photo shows a group of 7 swimming away from us.

Within 5 minutes of the orcas' departure, a bald eagle soared directly over the top of the boat.

It was such a surprise to have an eagle so close and I was slow at shortening the length of the zoom lens I was using so when it was directly overhead and obviously looking at us, I clipped off a part of her/his wing. I do love the eagle's expression, though.

When we realized that we would get to the dock in the afternoon, Dan got us a room off boat for the night. We traded our ship's cabin bunks for a queen-sized bed and a really great dinner (grilled scallops for me) at Zerelda's Bistro. Our 29th wedding anniversary was June 28, so this was our celebration dinner. Thank you Mark for the hotel info and thank you Jan (Bob's Jan) for the restaurant recommendation.

Restaurant Particulars:
Zerelda's Bistro
9351 Glacier Hwy, Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 500-7096

Friday, June 29, 2018

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska: June 29, 2018

We woke in Dundas Bay to a misty morning. Our first stop was on the other side of Cross Sound at Elfin Cove on Chichagof Island. Elfin Cove is a fishing resort/community with a marina, a small grocery, a laundry, a post office. Only 20-30 people live here. There are no streets but it does have a boardwalk that becomes a trail which runs between houses and around the cove. It was a one-hour stop to replenish the on-board wine supply.

It was raining lightly when we stopped in. Dan and I walked between the houses along the boardwalk and back. We saw and heard so many eagles but couldn't get a decent shot of them. Consistent with the cove's name, the woodland trail was dotted with little "elves" placed in inconspicuous spots.

What was particularly nice were the reflections in the water.

In Icy Strait near Lemesurier Island, we saw orcas. There were several small groups of orcas working together.

The group included an orca calf. The white of the calf has an amber coloration in its first year of life.

I counted at least 6 orcas swimming together.

When we thought they were in front of us suddenly they were behind us. It seemed like they were playing with us. They entertained us, or we entertained them, for over an hour.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska: June 28, 2018

We were up very early this morning. The anchor was pulled up and the engine came on about 5:00 am. The plan was to visit Lamplugh Glacier before the cruise ships arrived. Not too far from the glacier, there was quite a bit of floating ice.

Panorama of Lamplugh Glacier
We motored around in front of the glacier for quite a while listening to the creaking of the ice and hearing but not always seeing the crash of the glacier calving.

A larger boat with kayaks showed up while we were trawling in front of the glacier.

This was our northern most point in Glacier Bay National Park. After we'd had enough of the glacier, we turned back down Glacier Bay passing again by the Marble Islands and the animals who live there.

This time, in addition to tufted puffins, we saw horned puffins.

black-legged kittiwakes

Bald-Eagle high on the cliff above the kittiwakes
Continuing south, we had to stop back at the Glacier Bay NP headquarters because this was the last day we were allowed to be in the park. While Captain Ronn was handling our park departure, Dan and I took another walk to Blackwater Pond. Before we got to the pond, we were confronted with a large pile of fresh bear poop on the boardwalk. Dismissing the bear's commentary, we continued to the pond hoping to once again see the moose. No such luck, but on the way out we saw a much smaller creature who didn't mind posing while eating.

Same red squirrel but a different meal. We overnighted in Dundas Bay which is still in the park but okay to visit on your last day. We were treated with a brief view of a couple of humpback whale cruising along.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska: June 27, 2018

Late yesterday, we crossed to the west side of Glacier Bay and anchored in a sheltered cove next to Reid Glacier. This morning, the skiff delivered us all to a less muddy spot near the glacier. One of the first things we spotted was fresh bear tracks which made me feel a little vulnerable as I was concentrating on photographing some of the glacial streams.

Coincidentally, after we were back aboard the Delphinus, our captain got a radio call from the Park asking him if he could provide assistance to some hapless kayakers who planned to sleep on the shore but had no bear spray. 

The Delphinus anchored near Reid Glacier

While waiting to board the skiff Ayisha, our cook, decided to test the beauty benefit of glacial mud. She said her skin felt particularly soft after she removed the facial mud. It was a beautiful blue-green color. I was wishing I had a container to take some home.

After lunch the skiff delivered us to the shore across from the glacier so we could photograph wildflowers. Wildflowers were everywhere and every color.

taken with 60mm macro lens
Photographer Mark Kelley, an accomplished Juneau photographer, was very generous with his tips. One tip that worked for me was to use a long lens instead of a macro lens to photograph flowers. By focusing on one main bloom the rest of the scene becomes a beautiful impressionist background of soft colors and shapes instead of distractions. What a difference.

Leaving Reid Glacier behind, we continued up Glacier Bay toward Lamplugh Glacier, and we anchored in a nearby sheltered cove with a rainbow and lots of eagles.