Tracy Fjord Cruise / Excursion (OMG...The Most Incredible Trip!!)

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View onto Douglas Island early morning

 

As I figured, when the alarm went off, I wanted to chuck it out the window.  Uuuuuugh.  But I had to get up and moving because this was the day I was most excited about - the cruise through a fjord, see glaciers, icebergs, and wildlife!  I hopped out of bed, got ready, and left…without Keith every skipping a snore! HA HA.  I left a few minutes early and wandered down by the cruise ship dock where I saw several bald eagles perched on the rocks.  Got the camera, aimed, and poof, they started to take off leaving me with a fuzzy wing picture!  Thanks guys!

 

Well, headed down to the meeting point and it was a pretty quiet morning.

View into Juneau waterfront before the tour
  No one really out except for a lady walking her dog and a couple of the somewhat odd locals.  The tour company I booked through said to be there at 7am which I was…..all alone! LOL. People didn’t start arriving until closer to 8am which means I could’ve slept in but oh well, better safe than sorry. 

 

I was excited but nervous at the same time. This was once again, another first for me - first tour I’ve ever done alone!  I really wanted to see the fjord and glaciers so nothing was going to stop me, even my fear of being alone!  The boat arrived shortly thereafter and we were advised the tour was sold out so I figured I would get to know some people for sure now! HA HA.

Gastineau Channel & iceberg off in the distance
 

 

I was one of the first on and staked out my window seat.  It was a gorgeous morning and I was really excited about the trip.  An older couple sat next to me who were there with several other couples and I really enjoyed talking with them and hearing about their trip so far.  Turns out the wife was born and raised in Oakland, not too far from where I live now! 

 

We quickly got on our way and thank heaven, they had coffee on the boat.

Glacier visible from the channel
  Not having any sleep and lack of caffeine was going to make for a long day.  I also bought some cheese crackers to help settle my stomach in case I got seasick.  Although we were on a big boat, as sick as I normally get, I was not taking any chances! 

 

This tour was an all day adventure through the Tracy Arm Fjord arriving at Sawyer Glacier.  The Tracy Arm Fjord boasts the biggest icebergs in all of Alaska as pieces “calve” off the glacier, some of which occurs under the water, eventually bringing the large icebergs to the surface. Whale sightings are common and other wildlife such as seals and sometimes mountain goats!  I was very excited about this tour and couldn’t wait to get out to the fjord. 

 

Seemed like we had not gone very far when the captain announces he’s spotted a pod of Orca whales.

There he is!
  Amazingly, these whales were far more playful and visible than those we saw on the actual whale watching trip!  Of course, darn delay on the camera caused me to miss some of the best shots but I did get a few ok ones. 

 

Moving on a little further towards the fjord, the captain now announces he saw a humpback breach up ahead!! OMG, figures we can’t see it all the way in the back of the boat.  We stop and watch the humpbacks for a bit and got a number of opportunities to photograph the tail but yeah again, only managed to get a couple.  Lesson certainly learned! 

 

As we now round the bend, the scenery instantly changes.  We are now surrounded by the most breathtaking icebergs imaginable.

This was one of my favorite icebergs
  Some of them are larger than our boat and have the most intense blue color I’ve ever seen.  We get so close to them that we can almost reach out and touch them at several points.  It was the most calming and amazing feeling ever as we floated there, listening to the drips of the ice melting into the water.  Not sure that any picture or video image can accurately portray the beauty visible through seeing it firsthand.  Each one was so unique and beautiful in its own way.  We saw several baby eagles perched atop the ice and only the flapping of their wings and the ice dripping could still be heard as everyone in the tour group was quiet in awe of the beauty that surrounded us. 

 

As we made our way into the fjord, we instantly began to see many waterfalls and the steep snow capped peaks of the glacier created rock walls.  One of the best waterfalls we saw was called “Jack Falls”.

Jack Falls
  Our captain was rather impressive in that he maneuvered the boat right into the waterfall itself, allowing the bow of the boat to touch the wall.  It was an incredible way to see the waterfall and no, not like the Jungle Boat ride at Disneyland - “here’s the back side of water”. HA HA.  This took serious skill and really allowed some great photo opportunities. 

 

We continued along the fjord and I was snapping as many photos as possible, braving the chilly wind outside the back of the boat.  It was worth it though as each mountain was so unique and different and you couldn’t truly appreciate that looking through the glass inside the boat. 

 

We began to see more and more smaller icebergs as we continued up the fjord and off in the distance was the most beautiful glacier.

Sawyer Glacier
  Unfortunately, it is always a chance on what the conditions will be like and whether he can actually navigate the boat through to get up close to the glacier itself.  We drifted through quite a bit of ice, seeing a few seal pups perched on the larger bergs, and watched the ice lightly slosh against the sides of the boat. 

 

Unfortunately, there was just too much ice so we backed up and headed to another part of Sawyer Glacier.  Along the way we saw more seals, beautiful icebergs, and gorgeous snow capped mountain peaks.  I noticed that as we got closer to the glacier spots, the air temperature definitely changed some. 

 

We arrived at the other part of Sawyer glacier which has relatively no pieces of ice floating in the sea.

Hi guys!
  We stopped for quite some time, admiring the beautiful of the large glacier before us.  We did get to see some minor “calving” as chunks of the glacier broke off, sounding like a small avalanche.  I managed to one or two decent photos of the calving and a ton of the glacier itself. 

 

The ride back was the opportunity to search for mountain goats however it was late so they would’ve made their way back up the mountain top, appearing as a small speck of snow if we did see them!  One of the coolest things about this tour company and captain is the recent rescue of the baby mountain goat that was trapped on the hillside.  The mother had given birth as the tour group passed by one day and eventually she fell in the water and died.  They monitored the baby goat’s progress when it was deemed the goat needed rescuing.

The only glacier calving I caught on camera
  Steve Weber applied and eventually was granted the necessary permit to go in and rescue the 3 week old baby.  The baby is now at home in the Anchorage Zoo doing well.  What an awesome story.  I actually know someone who was on the tour when the mother gave birth and he told me all about the story so I had some insight prior to the tour. 

 

After holding out hope for at least a glimpse of a mountain goat, I can hear we are approaching a waterfall again!  This time, we got right on it as well and I watched one of the guys lean over the boat and stick his whole head in it...twice! LOL. He turned to all of us and began to shake, like a dog does after a bath....so needless to say, we all got to feel how cold the water was!  I can't remember the name of these falls but the captain mentioned something about its ability to regrow hair or combat baldness, something along those lines.  That is why the one passenger stuck his whole head in it...ha ha. 

 

As we headed on, most people were dozing off.

Another humpback tail!
I had spent some of the day talking to one of the deckhands who was pretty knowledgeable and a great resource for local information.....he made some joke about whether I was going to fall asleep like everyone else so I really tried to keep awake so he wouldn't make fun of me! :-)  What I didn't know at the time was he was actually operating the boat on the way back so I could've snoozed and no one would've been the wiser!  Oh well...it was worth it staying awake as we saw more whales and beautiful scenery on the way back! 

 

As we pulled back into Juneau, we saw several cruise ships still docked and it looked like the street was bustling with activity.  I was so exhausted at that point and just wanted to go back and relax before I went out with Keith and his friends again.  I headed back towards town and grabbed a quick sandwich and planned to nap until it was time to take a shower.  In the meantime, I got a phone call and the best offer ever......a friend invited me out to go halibut and salmon fishing!!!  It meant I had to give up going out that night and go to sleep early but it was something I really wanted to do so I was all over it!  Because we were planning on leaving so early in the AM, I opted to stay out closer to the bay area where we were leaving from rather than rely on a cab to get me there on time in the early morning.

The other falls that I cannot remember the name of!
  After packing my luggage, and saying my goodbyes to Keith, I was on my way.  I was a bit sad as I wouldn't see Keith anymore this trip as there was no point in paying $50 in cab fare to go back and forth, I'd rather get a room close to the airport. 

 

After getting settled in, I managed to stay awake for a glass of wine and I was out....excited about upcoming fishing adventures! :D

 

**I know there are a lot of pictures on this blog entry, but we saw so many amazing things and the scenery and wanted to try and document everything as I figure I may never return and have the opportunity to see it again**  

homeres says:
I think i remember why i have the bug to go now, I want to see all this beauty for myself before its gone or destroyed, esp. the Glaciers. I was reading somewhere that the ice caps are melting at a alarming rate
Posted on: Jan 12, 2009
X_Drive says:
Great pics and they deserve all the smiles they get!! :)
Posted on: Jul 12, 2008
jebailey76 says:
You took great pictures.
Posted on: Jul 10, 2008
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View onto Douglas Island early mor…
View onto Douglas Island early mo…
View into Juneau waterfront before…
View into Juneau waterfront befor…
Gastineau Channel & iceberg off in…
Gastineau Channel & iceberg off i…
Glacier visible from the channel
Glacier visible from the channel
There he is!
There he is!
This was one of my favorite iceber…
This was one of my favorite icebe…
Jack Falls
Jack Falls
Sawyer Glacier
Sawyer Glacier
Hi guys!
Hi guys!
The only glacier calving I caught …
The only glacier calving I caught…
Another humpback tail!
Another humpback tail!
The other falls that I cannot reme…
The other falls that I cannot rem…
First humpback of the day!
First humpback of the day!
Headed through Gastineau Channel
Headed through Gastineau Channel
First iceberg in the distance
First iceberg in the distance
More icebergs in the distance
More icebergs in the distance
First iceberg!
First iceberg!
Approaching the ice bergs - gettin…
Approaching the ice bergs - getti…
Icebergs
Icebergs
baby bald eagles on the iceberg
baby bald eagles on the iceberg
Closer up pic of baby bald eagle
Closer up pic of baby bald eagle
close up of the blue in the iceberg
close up of the blue in the iceberg
Baby bald eagle on the iceberg
Baby bald eagle on the iceberg
First orca sighting
First orca sighting
Close up of terrain and waterfalls
Close up of terrain and waterfalls
Waterfalls
Waterfalls
More waterfalls
More waterfalls
This was magnificant in person!
This was magnificant in person!
More waterfalls
More waterfalls
Smaller ones running off the cliffs
Smaller ones running off the cliffs
First sight in the fjord
First sight in the fjord
Beautiful fjord walls
Beautiful fjord walls
Jack Falls
Jack Falls
Us approaching the falls
Us approaching the falls
Closer headed into the falls
Closer headed into the falls
It looks like we are under the fal…
It looks like we are under the fa…
Windblown and cold but awesome tim…
Windblown and cold but awesome ti…
Close up of the wall by Jack Falls
Close up of the wall by Jack Falls
Fjord views
Fjord views
floating ice chunks as we approuch…
floating ice chunks as we approuc…
Sawyer Glacier
Sawyer Glacier
Seal pup on small iceberg
Seal pup on small iceberg
seal pup butt on the iceberg
seal pup butt on the iceberg
some of the floating ice pieces as…
some of the floating ice pieces a…
Close up of Sawyer Glacier
Close up of Sawyer Glacier
Chunks of ice alongside our boat
Chunks of ice alongside our boat
Backing out of the first part of S…
Backing out of the first part of …
Seal pups off in the distance
Seal pups off in the distance
Another seal hanging out
Another seal hanging out
Lounging seals
Lounging seals
More waterfalls
More waterfalls
Other side of Sawyer Glacier
Other side of Sawyer Glacier
No real ice chunks floating which …
No real ice chunks floating which…
Part of the hillside sliding down
Part of the hillside sliding down
Close up of the glacier
Close up of the glacier
Notice the dirty ice that almost…
Notice the "dirty" ice that almos…
Waterfalls and wildflowers as you …
Waterfalls and wildflowers as you…
The guy who stuck his head under t…
The guy who stuck his head under …
Round two of sticking his head und…
Round two of sticking his head un…
Reminds me of hot springs there
Reminds me of hot springs there
Glacier carved walls in the fjord
Glacier carved walls in the fjord
Mega yacht towing the very expensi…
Mega yacht towing the very expens…
Humpback tail!!!
Humpback tail!!!
Another humpback tail!!
Another humpback tail!!
Another glacier shot
Another glacier shot
Notice the storm coming in as we h…
Notice the storm coming in as we …
I like this tail shot
I like this tail shot
He was pretty close at this point!
He was pretty close at this point!
Douglas Island on our way back int…
Douglas Island on our way back in…
Cruise ship at the dock
Cruise ship at the dock
Paddlewheel boat from Seattle that…
Paddlewheel boat from Seattle tha…
Another small cruise ship
Another small cruise ship
Juneau downtown waterfront
Juneau downtown waterfront
Juneau downtown waterfront
Juneau downtown waterfront
Luxury cruise ship docked in downt…
Luxury cruise ship docked in down…
float plane landing
float plane landing
Deckhands as we pass the cruise sh…
Deckhands as we pass the cruise s…
Waterfront (Cruises West ship - li…
Waterfront (Cruises West ship - l…
The Regent ship
The Regent ship
More float planes landing
More float planes landing
Douglas Island
Douglas Island
Sandy Beach on Douglas Island
Sandy Beach on Douglas Island
Alaska Sights & Attractions review
A Must See in Alaska!
When I was researching stuff to do in Juneau, I kept coming back to this all day cruise through the Tracy Arm Fjord and to see Sawyer Glacier. I read … read entire review