Alaska: Day 1 & 2 - Traveling to Glacier Bay National Park

We left Sitka, Alaska at 12:48pm on Thursday, July 14. 

I have spent many years longing to travel to the beautiful state of Alaska, but I knew that if I visited, the experience would need to be unique. When the opportunity to see Southeast Alaska on a private boat was presented to me, I had to say yes because I knew it would be an adventure that would have a significant impact on my life. 

That being said, I would be lying if I didn't say I was a bit nervous about spending a week on a boat, since I have experienced some sea sickness in the past. I was determined not to let my nerves get the best of me and I also packed a variety of medication to help combat the motion sickness, should it ever decide to creep up.

What transpired over the next seven days was nothing short of amazing. We spent hours observing some of the most incredible shorelines, beautiful mountains, glaciers calving, critters meandering the shoreline in the water and on land, calm and rough waters and misty sunrises.

 

The Crew

I met Natalia Stone, Joe Azure and Casey McCallister on Google+, back when the social media network was thriving. We have remained close friends over the last few years and continue to drink together, shoot together and travel together. 

We had no doubt the boat quarters would be tight on this trip, but even by the seventh day, we were still laughing and enjoying each other's company. 

Joe was our fearless captain who made sure the Marguerite and crew stayed safe during the week long trip. He navigated our boat to some incredible locations, thanks to weeks of research prior to our departure, and stayed calm during a few stressful times (you'll read more about this later).

 
 
 

Tenakee Springs, Alaska 

We arrived in Tenakee Springs just before 8:00pm and the sun was still high in the sky, though masked by clouds. As we entered the harbor, I heard a few gun shots and spotted a few people wandering below the tide line.  

Once we docked, we had one mission for the evening, to find the bar Joe had visited years prior. As we walked the streets, Joe explained to us that the town was free of cars and at that moment, we heard the sound of an engine behind us and stepped aside to watch an ATV pass us. One woman was driving and a second woman was sitting in the trailer, pulled by the ATV, both carrying shot guns, slung over their shoulders. 

 
Arriving in Tenakee Springs

Arriving in Tenakee Springs

 

Dozens of homes line the shoreline of this town, many with vegetable gardens surrounded by chicken wire to protect the crops from wildlife. The town is small, with a population under 150, but complete with a post office, bakery, general store and a bathhouse, but no bar. After chatting with a local, she informed us the hotel and bar burnt down a number of years ago.  

Inside the bakery, where they served coffee, tea, cinnamon rolls and quiche. 

Inside the bakery, where they served coffee, tea, cinnamon rolls and quiche. 

 
 
The public restroom

The public restroom

 
 
Tied up at the Transient Dock in Tenakee Springs, where we spent the night

Tied up at the Transient Dock in Tenakee Springs, where we spent the night

 
 
 

Humpback Whales

When we left Tenakee Springs and headed for Glacier Bay, we re-entered the Icy Strait, which is whale territory, so we continued our search for Humpbacks. As we rounded Point Augusta, we finally spotted half a dozen whales. 

We had been watching the whales for about 5 minutes when we observed them swim away from one another, then dive and flip their flukes to the sky. About 3 minutes later, we witnessed an amazing and rare behavior known as bubble feeding. 

Bubble Feeding 

Bubble Feeding 

Bubble feeding occurs when a pod of whales swims below a school of fish, blowing bubbles, forcing the fish up to the surface. The whales then swim up through the bubbles with their mouths open, catching hundreds of fish.  We were very lucky to have seen this performed four times. 

Bubble Feeding

Bubble Feeding

Bubble Feeding

Bubble Feeding