David and Juli Cruise to Alaska

June 5-13, 2004   Page 3

Tuesday, June 8, 2004: As with most of the days on this trip, I woke up early.  I would always go out to the boat deck and see where we were and what things looked like.  My most thrilling part of the trip was seeing the scenery around me.  I love the mountains and this trip provided me with many great opportunities to see them.  This morning was the first chance to really get a grasp of the immense expanses around us.  Of course, wherever I ventured on the boat, I had my camera with me.  When I got up 5:30ish it was already light outside and the waters were calm.  The boat was cruising along and there were mountains to the east of us.  I wasn't quite sure where we were, but I assumed we were along the Alaska coast line.


Here are a couple of scenes from the boat of the mountains around us.  It was marvelous.

We finally arrived at Glacier Bay National Park around 10:30 or 11.  Apparently, since we were entering a National Park, the boat stopped at the entrance and Park Rangers got on the boat.  There were occasional announcements about our locations in the bay.  Glacier Bay is located about 65 miles NW of Juneau as shown on the map below:

Map of Juneau and Glacier Bay National Park region

We went out to the front deck of the boat and just stayed there throughout the entire trip into the bay.  The grandeur of the snow-capped mountains, the beautiful waterscapes and all of the other scenery were just stunning.  It is obvious by all of the photos I took --> see the Glacier Bay Slide Show.

This National Park can only be reached by boat.  Because we were a large cruise ship, we were not allowed to stop at the visitors center, which is located in Bartlett Cove, near the town of Gustavus.  We entered the bay and proceeded north.  We were now surrounded by mountains on both sides of the boat.  All I could do was sit in the chair and just take in all of the beauty around me.


The size of the mountains cannot be realized without some perspective.  Both of these boats were large cruise vessels.  The one on the right was another Holland America vessel, similar in size to ours.


L-Richard Boelter (Laura's husband) sits in front of the view of one of the ships.  C-Maury Bateman (Juli's father) enjoys the relaxing cruise through the bay as part of his 80th birthday celebration. R-Paul Bateman (Juli's brother) couldn't hack the cool weather.  He is from Arizona mind you....

During our part of the trip we visited three main glaciers: Reid Glacier, Lamplugh Glacier and Margerie Glacier.  We came close to the Grand Pacific Glacier, which is at the northernmost tip of the park and is at the Canadian border.  We also went into an inlet covered with icebergs and we could see seals basking in the sun on some of the icebergs.  The highlight of the day was pulling in close to Margerie Glacier and actually witnessing it calving.  The deep blue color of the ice was fascinating.


L-Arlene Bateman in front of Margerie Glacier; C-Laura, Arlene, Juli, Kathy, Maren and Maury; R-Juli at Margerie


On the left is one of a few of the seals we saw basking on the icebergs.  The iceberg on the right had to have been 50 feet in length.  By the end of the day we saw hundreds of icebergs of varying shapes and sizes.

One of the most interesting things about this area is that scientists have found that the glaciers are retreating.  Just over 200 years ago the entire bay was completely covered by ice.  In 1794 the explorer Capt. George Vancouver found Icy Strait (the water lane just below Gustavus) choked with ice. The glacier there was more than 4000 feet thick and was somewhere near 20 miles wide and extended more than 100 miles to the St. Elias mountain range (which run along the Alaska-Canada border near the Yakutat area on the NW part of the map above).  In 1879, naturalist John Muir made  a visit to the area and discovered that the ice had retreated some 48 miles up the bay. By 1916 the Grand Pacific Glacier headed Tarr Inlet 65 miles (in between Mt. Forde and Mt. Barnard on the map above) from Glacier Bay's mouth.  We traveled to the northernmost point in Tarr Inlet to see Margerie Glacier.  According to the park brochure, there is nowhere else known in the world where glaciers are retreating at such a rapid rate.

All in all this was a most exhilarating day.  The scenes from this trip in to the world of Glaciers will never escape my memory.  After a night's rest on the boat, we should awake in Juneau, Alaska.  The opportunity to get out and get on land at last!!!

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