A Wonderful Day Cruising Glacier Bay!

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July 17th 2012
Published: July 24th 2012
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17th July ’12 Cruising Glacier Bay

We knew from the programme (that is delivered to your cabin each night) that we would be in the National Park from 10am to 7pm and so intended to spend most of our time out on the deck – apart from cigarette breaks which would have to be in the casino bar as it was the only place you could smoke during these times. So when I went in for a fag I said to the other people there well I’m sure we will all see a lot of each other today (ha ha) and was met by stony faces and silence, well at least I tried!

I did on another visit meet up with one of our friends from Illinois, she was sat at the bar drinking and chatting up the bar tender, 2 hours later she was still there! She said I’ll just have one more and then I better go back to my cabin – I don’t think she saw anything of the glaciers but she was certainly having fun.

Meanwhile back on the deck we saw lots of awesome snow topped mountain ranges and loads of glaciers – hence the name. Captain Cook named the highest mountain, when he sailed into the area the weather had been really bad then it suddenly cleared and he saw the mountain and named it Fairweather. It’s really good to still be following our Jimmy!

We started to see tiny icebergs and then this increased until we saw lots of ice floating in the sea. We spotted a sea otter swimming along on its back with its paws and feet in the air! The Park Rangers started their commentary on the area, pointing out the wild life – ‘see those 2 white specks like grains of sand over their on the starboard side, they are mountain goats and those 2 black sticks, well they are its legs’ !!!!!!

There were a lot of people out lining the decks but you could always find a space and the views were certainly worth it! We sailed up to the top end of the bay where there were two huge glaciers – The Grand Pacific Glacier which was black ice and Marjorie Glacier, which was a massive white and blue ice one.

The ship stayed in this area for an hour and
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Mt. Fairweather
we were glued to the railings just gazing at this incredible spectacle. In the moments of silence – when the talking finally died down, we could hear the glacier creaking and groaning, followed by crashing as chunks of ice broke of and splashed down into the sea sending up great splashes. So we have seen a glacier calving!.

The glacier itself was full of giant crevasses, ice towers, formations that looked like hands forming a circle and lots of that brilliant eerie blue ice. Often we could hear crashing and creaking but not see anything so there was clearly a lot happening within the glacier itself. It was strange to think of this ice as a moving force.

Later in the afternoon we attended a talk by a lady from the Huna Tlingit people who used to live in Glacier Bay. She explained about their social structure and how the Huna Tlingit have two moieties – the Eagle and the Raven and from this four clans (3 eagle and 1 raven). People are defined by their maternal lineage and cannot marry within their own clan. If they were too they would then be completely ostracised, there children however
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First tiny icebergs
would still be accepted within the clan.

The Huna Tlingit originally lived in Glacier Bay but after the Marjorie Glacier surged (at a speed the same as a dog can run) their land was covered. Many people lost their lives and their belongings at this time. The people moved by canoe to their winter camp and from there onto another island to wait for the glacier to recede. This did not happen and so the clans built lodge houses and totems telling their history and the story of the glacier and rebuilt their lives. Glacier Bay is their ancestral homeland, a spiritual place and always thought of as home by the Huna Tlingit people.

Until 55 years ago they only had art and oral history, the artwork on the totems and decorations on their apparel telling their story. Then an alphabet was developed and they now have a written language.

She talked about her childhood with great fondness and recalled fishing, hunting, gathering wool and berries. The Huna Tlingit believe that everything has a spirit so they always say sorry for killing animals or cutting down trees and when an animal is killed every part of it
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see all the ice in the sea
is used and nothing is wasted.

She talked about the harbour seals, which tourists think are so cute, but when she sees one she thinks food! She described seeing them lying on the ice looking like sausages!

It was a very impassioned, moving, funny and informative talk and we both came away very impressed and glad we had attended it.

During dinner that night we saw seals lying on tiny islands (we didn’t think sausages however) and both before and after dinner when we were on the deck we saw humpback whales!!! You could spot them by the spouts of water coming from their blow holes and then we saw flicks of their tales up in the air. We even saw a head come up breaking the surface. It was all a fair way off but it was great!!!! So after nearly a year of travelling I have finally managed to see whales, hooray!

Additional photos below
Photos: 13, Displayed: 13


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Marjorie Glacier
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