This travelogue is one family's experience in the inland passage in Alaska. To see a photo in a larger size, just click on it.
After Glacier Bay, we went on to Juneau, which is a town of about 30,000 people with its downtown nestled at the base of Mount Juneau, although technically the city limits are larger than either Rhode Island or Delaware. This is a shot of Mount Juneau towering over the downtown.
The Oosterdam and another cruise ship at the dock in Juneau. It was taken from the 65-ft. Captain Cook, a trawler that my friend Gary Cordette and I took on an excursion to the Tracy Arm fjord, which is part of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness. My wife, Teresa, went on a hike to the Mendenhall glacier in Juneau.
We traveled down the Gastineau Channel about 45 miles to reach the fjord. This beautiful shot is a typical scene of the heavily forested shores along the way. Look carefully and you'll find three eagles perched on the trees -- two bald eagles and one golden eagle or a junior bald eagle.
As we traveled down the channel, the overcast, misty conditions led to a number of shots of cloud-covered mountains that took on a black & white cast.
When we reached the mouth of the Tracy Arm fjord, we ran into a string of ice bergs that were lodged on a sand bar. The bergs were like amazing ice sculptures. The bluish color is accentuated by the overcast day.
The colors in this amazing picture of the blue-tinted icebergs in a black & white world have not been photoshopped in any way. The icebergs have these exact colors, while the overcast skies turned the water gray, and the cloud-covered mountains look black from a distance.
Here's another angle of one of the icebergs, which had a sharply-defined line delineating the blue part of the berg from its snow-covered top. I wonder what caused the furrowed rows on its top that look like a tractor drove over it?
As we were touring the icebergs at the mouth of the fjord, the Sapphire Princess came out of the mists.
Here's one more of the icebergs. In all, there were about a dozen of various sizes in the field of bergs. This one almost looks like it's made of a blue marble at its base.
This is Steve Weber, who captained the Captain Cook and owns the excursion company, Adventure Bound Alaska. He's been taking people into the Tracy Arm fjord for more than 25 years and knows the area intimately. His excursion was easily the highlight of my trip to Alaska as you'll soon see.
Here is one of the spectacular granite mountains in the Tracy Arm fjord, which matches Yosemite National Park in its beauty and majesty. While Yosemite has Half Dome, the Tracy Arm fjord has what can be called Tri-Dome.
Yosemite has El Capitan, a spectacular 3,000-foot granite cliff that towers over the Yosemite Valley. Here is the Tracy Arm fjord's version, which towers a similar height over the waterway.
Here's another mountain shot along the way on the opposite side of the fjord from the previous two shots. The fjord, quite literally, has similar scenes that run its total length of about 30 miles. If it were anywhere in the continental U.S., it would easily be named one of our national parks or, at a minimum, a national monument.
Here is a shot of one of the icebergs in the fjord. Unlike the ones at the mouth, which were beached on a sand dune, this one is floating freely in the channel. Again, you can see the black & white world in the background, which is created by the gray skies, clouds, and dark granite mountains.
At the end of the fjord is the Sawyer Glacier, which can be viewed in two areas as the channel forks. This is the larger south glacier, which stretches out about 1/3rd of a mile.
Here's a shot of a the glacier calving as a small block of ice drops off the face into the water. When we got to the glacier Captain Steve moved the boat in as close a possible and turned off the engine, so we could hear it groan, creak, and calve.
Go to the next page to see what happened at the glacier and on our trip back to Juneau.