Glacier Bay National Park

Trip Start May 06, 2010
Trip End Oct 14, 2010

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Flag of United States  , Alaska
Sunday, July 4, 2010

I had a reservation for the Glacier Bay boat tour.  The tour normally is on the Fairweather Express II but one of the four engines on that boat isn't working resulting it in being slower than usual.  They didn't have many people signed up for the trip today so they used the smaller, and currently faster, Yukon Queen.  The Fairweather Express II is also the boat used as the ferry from Juneau and its engine problem is why the ferry isn't running.

The tour leaves at 7:00am.  I had to get up very early, which isn't something I'm good at, but I made it to the boat on time.  It was another cold, gray, rainy day.  The tour goes the 65 miles from the Visitor Center / Glacier Bay Lodge to where the tidewater glaciers meet the bay.  This point has moved a lot.  250 years ago the entire route was covered in ice.

I thought that seeing glaciers was the primary attraction of Glacier Bay but that's not the case.  The glaciers are not visible from the Visitor Center or most of the 65-mile trip, or at least they weren't with the weather I experienced,  Most of the trip is spent seeing the unspoiled landscape and the wildlife, which included Humpback whales, Orca (probably the same group I saw yesterday), Bald eagles, seals, sea lions, otters, Grizzly bears and many species of birds.  There is a Ranger on-board to explain the wildlife and park history.

We eventually reached the glacier.  We waited for a while hoping to see it calve but it didn't cooperate.  The captain eventually gave up and headed back toward the Visitor Center.

The boat stopped in a number of locations to drop off or pick up sea kayakers.  You can paddle around in the bay and camp in the forests.  Before your trip you specify your drop-off and pick-up points.  You're on your own while you're out there.  I'm sure it would be a memorable experience but the thought of camping in the rain and cold wasn't appealing to me.  My kayaking experience yesterday was enough for me.

I was supposed to be taking a ferry back to Juneau tonight but I'll be spending the night in Gustavus and flying tomorrow morning instead.
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Mark on

Glaciers calve?

wheresgordon on

Yes, they do. From the free dictionary:

calve (kv, käv)
v. calved, calv·ing, calves
1. To give birth to a calf.
2. To break at an edge, so that a portion separates. Used of a glacier or iceberg.
1. To give birth to (a calf).
2. To set loose (a mass of ice). Used of a glacier or iceberg.
[Middle English calven, from Old English *calfian, from calf, calf.]

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