July 15 Ė Just sit right back and youíll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started in an artic port aboard a tiny ship. Well, not quite. When we planned our adventure we had set aside three days of our Juneau stay to hop over to Glacier Bay National Park and see the glaciers and kayak among the icebergs (just like we did at Mendenhall, only much bigger). This was a great plan, but we began to find some problems with it, but we never addressed the issue until we got to Juneau. The only campground to stay in is at least 10 miles from the glaciers, far beyond our current limit of 8 miles of paddling a day. We briefly considered making the journey in stages and camping on the shore, but thatís a little too much wilderness for us. We also considered going to the park and then catching a sightseeing cruise from there. There were a couple of other plans too, but in talking with tour operators and ferry companies, we finally decided that is was not cost effective to make a jaunt out there for only a few days. So this left us with some extra time in Juneau and without a big glacier experience.
Enter Capt. Steve and the ĎAdventure Boundí a 51 foot fishing boat converted to sightseeing use. They make daily trips to Tracy Arm, a fjord with two tidewater glaciers about 60 miles South of Juneau. There are several companies that make this trip and while the Adventure Bound is not the biggest, fastest or most elegant of all the boats, it is the one that spends the most time at the glaciers. Capt. Steve is also known for doing some different things on the way, but weíll get to that later.
We had to check in for the trip at 7:45 am and since thereís no parking in downtown Juneau we had to park blocks away and walk. So once again we were getting up before 7 am on a vacation. The first hour or so of the trip was uneventful, a cruise down the Gastineau Channel, although we did see a spot where there was a landslide in September of 2002 which knocked out the primary power lines to Juneau for a few days. We passed through an area filled with fishing boats, all gill netting salmon. With the number of boats out there itís a wonder that there are any salmon are left. Eventually we started seeing icebergs and soon we turned up and into the fjord. As we worked our way up the fjord (the glacier is 30 miles from the entrance) we slowed down to inspect a waterfall. Capt. Steve likes people to see things up close so he nosed the bow right up to the falls. Shortly after the picture was taken Daveís leg got soaked. We arrived first at South Sawyer glacier. Itís just over Ĺ mile wide and 150 feet of the glacier is above the water which is 500 feet deep. We maneuvered into a good viewing spot and then Capt. Steve turned off the engines. As a glacier moves it cracks and it sounds just like thunder as it echoes through the fjord. We saw several pieces calve (fall) off of the glacier, some producing large waves as they hit the water. On many of the icebergs were seals, lounging around between meals. Stacie loved taking pictures of them because there were many pups as well (in fact she set a new record, 167 pictures in one day!). After over an hour of watching ice fall and photographing seals, we headed over to North Sawyer glacier. This glacier is normally inactive, but in the past month a huge section had been calving, giving excellent shows. We watched for a short time, but the glacier had nothing to show. As we headed out Capt. Steve stopped on the way to circle a few icebergs that had truly amazing colors. We also stopped in a spot where the fjord wall had been undercut so that we could sit under the wall and look up. Our final attraction was another waterfall where Capt. Steve put the entire bow of the boat under the falls and then challenged anyone to stick their head under it. Dave didnít do it, but someone else did (and got a free cup of hot chocolate). There was a possible whale sighting on the trip back. We arrived back in Juneau at 6 pm and for some reason we were tired (we also had a weird vertigo feeling like we were still swaying with the boat). We had pizza for dinner and then headed back to camp. Still feeling tired we crawled into bed at 8 pm (how pathetic!)