One of the selling points of our 7-Day cruise was the trip we were to make into Tracy Arm Fjord on the third day before we sailed into Juneau in the afternoon. The reality of cruising in Southeastern Alaska, however, is that nature will not always cooperate. So it was that the morning we were to sail into Tracy Arm, there was too much ice. Fortunately, there was a backup plan: Endicott Arm Fjord and Dawes Glacier.
Endicott Arm is different from Tracy Arm in that it is not as narrow as Tracy Arm, but at its end you find the incredible tidewater glacier, Dawes Glacier. As an added bonus, Endicott was deserted when we were there apart from all of the harbor seals hanging out on pieces of ice.
Beginning at 5:00 am the morning we went into the fjord, our cruise ship’s naturalist gave a talk over the ship’s loudspeakers, describing what we were seeing, and quoting from travelers who had explored this area. This region is in the heart of the Tracy Arm-Fords Terror Wilderness – it’s named after a naval crew member who, in 1889, rowed a dinghy into the narrow entrance of the fjord and became stuck in the currents for six hours. For both dinghies and cruise ships, this area can be unforgiving.
To say that this fjord and this glacier were incredible is a profound understatement. Have you ever seen mountains that are shiny from glacial polishing? Because I have – I’ve seen miles of them in Endicott Arm. Have you seen the perfect, wide blue of a glacier, and heard the cracks as it calves? I have. And it was magnificent. Photos don’t do it justice.
We spent about an hour standing on the railing of the deck, waiting as our captain did doughnuts so that the entire ship could have a good look. Then, we moved inside to the pool deck, where we sat bundled up next to the floor-to-ceiling windows taking everything in.
We saw many beautiful things on this trip, but the morning we saw Dawes Glacier is one that sticks out particularly in my mind. What a tremendous celebration of nature and its unforgiving beauty.