Field Note: A Day in Alaska...Tracy Arm Fjord

By Kim Heacox
April 2004

It began with the Ice Age—or so it seemed—as we motored deep into Tracy Arm, a 25-mile-long rock-ribbed vault festooned with waterfalls, tidewater glaciers, and diamond blue icebergs. Sunshine spilled over the high mountain walls as we gathered on deck, coffee and hot chocolate in hand, cameras at the ready. After breakfast we took to the Zodiacs through gardens of icebergs and listened to the white thunder of icefalls off the face of Sawyer Glacier…towers of ice plunging into the sea.

Afternoon found us in Williams Cove, where we paddled kayaks and hiked on the fringe of the lush, green Tongass National Forest, a temperate rain forest, one of the rarest biomes in the world. Returning to the Sea Bird, we found the lounge set up for a wine-tasting party, complete with cheeses, salmon, and chocolate.

After dinner, southbound in Frederick Sound, we gathered on deck in fading light to watch humpback whales sound and feed. One whale in particular spy hopped next to the Sea Bird again and again, rising out of the slate gray water like a giant dark orchid, a blossom in the sea, staring back at us as we stared at it. Then slowly it sunk away to end a wondrous day.

Kim Heacox