Published: August 2nd 2012August 2nd 2012
South Sawyer Glacier Berg
Wednesday July 25, 2012 Tracy Arm Cove to Ford’s Terror via North and South Sawyer Glaciers and Endicott Arm
We mapped out a plan to go all the way up Tracy Arm, view both glaciers, come back and go up Endicott Arm as far as Ford’s Terror, which required a 6:00 AM start in order to arrive at Ford’s Terror narrows by 7:00 high slack tide. So off we went into the morning sun, beautiful but too hazy for really good photography. Tim fixed a breakfast of bacon and eggs with the smoky flavor of truffle salt on a lightly toasted English muffin.
Again we’re awed by the majesty of the sheer walls, cascading falls, and glacier carved side valleys. Glacier Bay, by comparison offers immense views of waterways and entire mountain ranges and far off glaciers at the end of inlets. Here one looks up at sheer walls and into carved mountain valleys and waterfalls everywhere. Gouges from rock grinding against rock wall are clearly visible and in some places granite dust have sanded the sides to a bright shine.
Near South Sawyer Glacier we put down the Bullfrog and Nespers
South Sawyer Glacier
followed a couple of small tour boats into the ice. They heard the creaking and groaning of ice and photographed seals, while BJ and I kept Little Liza in more open water. They also followed us into North Sawyer Glacier, which was too clogged with ice on the last trip and this time nicely opened up for us. This glacier has retreated dramatically in the last few decades with much newly revealed rock without the patina of age. It appears to be starting to rust. North Sawyer is still a tidewater glacier and we were able to watch it calve. For the grand finale one berg as big as a bungalow came loose with a crack and dropped into the water only to come roaring back up and heave over on its side like a breaching whale – a deep translucent blue whale.
At some point our fresh water pump gave out completely after becoming weaker over the last few days. I had a replacement and it was out with the old and in with the new as the rest of the crew took Little Liza back down Tracy Arm. Our day would have
Tim and Denise in the ice in South Sawyer Glacier
turned out very differently had that not been the fix.
We turned up Endicott Arm and after a couple more hours arrived at the entrance to Ford’s Terror an hour before high slack. We anchored up against a wall in some pretty sketchy holding enabling us to watch the current in the narrows slow to a lazy flow and so we followed the marks I had left last time and made a slow cruise into our stone cavern, watching the waterfalls in the late afternoon sun. We anchored near the same spot as last time and we are held off the spit by the current from the river ahead of us. After thirteen hours I am tired but it has been a wonderful day of scenery and exploration the likes of which I may never experience again. Tim fixed barbecue chicken with a maple glaze and Denise cooked the asparagus and rice – done just right.
Thursday July 26, 2012 Ford’s Terror
Last night I promised myself I would get up and check our anchorage and at 2:00 AM I shined the spotlight on shoal that had become really close. The depth finder
North Sawyer Glacier
Little Liza in front of North Sawyer Glacier
showed we were still in 23 feet (at least under the middle of the boat) but less than fifty feet away was the beach. We had turned around at low tide since the shoal was in the way and the river was no longer pushing us out. Since the tide was already rising again I hoped we were safe and I turned on the depth finder in our berth which we seldom use. This morning we decided to re -anchor at low tide when we returned from our outing and when I pulled up chain it pulled us in so close to shore I could actually see the anchor firmly caught in about five feet of mud. How it got that shallow when it supposedly was dropped in 40 feet of water (at high tide) I do not know. We backed up only about fifty feet and dropped it again in sixty feet and we feel about that much safer.
BJ and I took the Bullfrog for a spin into the East arm of Ford’s Terror and then hurried back to get Tim and Denise. Bright sun rapidly warms the air. An old glacial moraine stretches most of
the way across the entrance to this arm making passage shallow and subject to impressive tidal currents. Once inside the view is extraordinary, making us feel like we were the first humans ever to enter here. A spectacular waterfall whose initial arc glistens in the sun cascades a thousand feet in full view. Snowfields reflect light off granite walls highlighting dark and light lines. Spruce trees, like plumb lines, measure the angle of repose. Sea water is a turbid white and green, BJ describes as looking like cottage cheese. We glided along as slowly as the motor would idle taking pictures and wondering. We found the requisite river winding among grassy flats where the glacial grindings were laid and when it became too shallow and rapid we shut down the motor and drifted out in silence. Seals peered at us making the only ripples in the milky shallows. BJ leaned over to me and whispered, “Be still and know that He is God.” This afternoon we relaxed, slept, organized pictures, and just looked out and rejoiced as our world turned.
Flank steak, baked potatoes, and Nadia wine, were the fare as the setting sun rises higher on the
snow fields to the East.
Friday July 27, 2012 Ford’s Terror to Tracy Arm Cove via Baird Glacier
The four of us were having a discussion about renewal in our respective churches when I spotted bears in the grassy edges above the tide line. A sow and two cubs ambled along eating grass, sniffing among the rocks and stripping bushes of berries. They looked hungry and I hoped that there might be fish in the stream but I haven’t seen any. We watched and photographed then it was time to meet slack tide at the narrows. I followed my line except for a large ice berg right in the way and as I went around the bottom came up 10’…8’…4’…3’ and all I could do was throw it in neutral and wince. BJ and Denise saw the bottom on both sides of the boat and then 2’…4’…6’…10’…30’ and we were through. It was a close call. From there we dodged ice bergs most of the way up Endicott Arm while marveling at the shear walls and flanking falls and resplendent hanging glaciers
. Wonderfully the water right in front of Baird Glacier was clear of
Walls sanded smooth by glaciers in Ford's Terror
bergie bits in spite of calving all morning according to a small passenger ship already there. We hung out with cameras ready for calving but there was no spectacular repeat of two days ago. We spent about an hour just staring up at this jagged wall of ice and its dark stripes looking like tire tracks that carried rocks and debris off some rock wall upstream. We went back on a slow bell through the bergs, sometimes just gliding through them in neutral and listening for the tapping against the hull. It’s hard work piloting Little Liza around the myriad of hazards. Low clouds snuck up behind us in Endicott Arm and it began to rain. Picking out bergs in the fog is also tiring. 
Hanging glaciers are perched on cliffs and drop their ice into valleys below; Valley glaciers are confined to valleys; Piedmont glaciers spread out across a valley; Tidewater glaciers end at the sea.
There are more photos below