Alaska – one of our favorite states to visit. We have been in this wonderful place 3 previous times and have only seen a small portion of the state. For this visit we decided to focus on Glacier Bay National Park. It occupies the northernmost section of the southeastern Alaska coastline, between the Gulf of Alaska and Canada. We chose to visit in May, before tourist season starts up and just as wildlife is awakening from the long winter. Our plan was to spend a week on the Sea Wolf, a former Navy mine sweeper that has been remodeled and updated from 2003-2019. It held 12 guests and 5 crew, and is owned by Naturalist Kimber Owen who led the excursion deep into Glacier National Park, and piloted by Hans Bruning the whole way through. Our hope was to experience the scenic vistas of the park and view as much wildlife as possible. We were not disappointed.
Getting to the park was fairly simple. We flew from Denver to Seattle, then Seattle to Juneau, and finally a very short 25 minute plane ride to Gustavus. We started our stay at the Annie Mae Lodge which is very close to the park entrance. There we met up with our group and enjoyed a beautiful hike in the daytime, a lovely opening dinner at the lodge, and a chance for me to meet Diva – a horse who lives in this idyllic area and with whom I quickly formed an attachment.
Our journey on the Sea Wolf began on Sunday afternoon. After a brief orientation and a chance to settle in our room, we mingled with the other passengers and got acclimated to the Sea Wolf. Each day of the trip was spent with our group kayaking or visiting an area of the park on a skiff that accompanied the boat. Each day yielded spectacular vistas. I kept gazing in wonder at what we got to see. Much has been written about glaciers receding due to climate change, and this is definitely a reality. I felt fortunate to be able to see the glaciers still in place, and worried that future generations of humans and wildlife will not be able to have this same experience.
When we think of Alaska we think of wildlife. Because of the unspoiled nature of Glacier Bay National Park, a visitor can see numerous species of birds, ducks, goats, bears, moose, and wolves. And the whales! One of the joys of our experience was seeing whales in one of their native habitats. I was unable to photograph any wolves or moose, but I sure did get to see a lot of the rest.
Finally, I spent a lot of time just taking in the land and sea on this trip. I continually marveled at the beauty of the terrain. The mountains start at sea level and climb as high as 15,000 feet. The mountains received a lot of snow this year, and on most days our weather was unusually clear. We were told many areas were often shrouded in fog and clouds. We were most fortunate then, to be able to see all of these incredible vistas.
I come away from this experience filled with awe. Glacier National Park is simply spectacular. It saddens me to think that this glorious park is endangered due to climate change. I pledge to do all that I can to fight to preserve this place, and our planet. I hope these images inspire others to do the same. We must do all that we can for now and for future generations.