During the Labor day weekend we went back to bear country for a couple of days to explore national park # 52 of 59. Labor Day weekend was the last operating weekend in 2015 at Glacier Bay NP. Because of this and the lack of TV and cell coverage, the park felt very peaceful. NPS had a number of scheduled programs and movies to keep us busy and interested in the evenings. Glacier Bay is the park with the most dynamic glaciers. A massive glacier covered the bay in ice in the the fastest known glacial advance, which dislocated the native villagers. Then, in about 100 years (from 1750 to 1880), the glacier retreated more than 40 miles up the bay. Today, it takes a few hours by boat to reach the face of Margerie Glacier – the northern most point in the park.
Scientists call Glacier Bay a living lab because they can observe life taking roots in bare rocks starting with lichen to later become lush, mossy spruce forests. The underwater life is rich and very significant as well. Every spring, the phytoplankton blooms and kick starts the new life cycle, from tiny organisms to giant whales who come here to feed. The bay is teeming with life, below and above the surface.
Snow the whale was injured by a collision with a cruise ship. It was found on the shore a few years ago and NPS decided to use her remains for educational purposes. The size of her bones is impressive. I can’t even imagine bumping into this creature in the water.
NPS is working closely with the Tlingit tribe, settlers of this area for many generations, to preserve their heritage.
We took the last boat tour in 2015 and had amazingly beautiful weather. We saw sea otters, wolves, bears, puffins, sea lions, seals, mountain goats, Eagles, many more birds and kayakers:)
The difference between low and high tide is very drastic and can be as much as 24 ft. This movement keeps the nutrients in the water moving and enriches the entire bay, creating a favorable environment for abundant sea life which in turn supports a healthy animal life above water.
We left on Monday and the lodge closed for the season. The leaving wasn’t easy. The rain that was forecasted for the entire weekend finally caught up with us and kept us trapped in Gustavos for an extra 10 hrs.
On the way to the park we stopped in Juneau for half a day, which allowed us to see the Mendenhall Glacier. We got there around 8 am before the tour buses and the crowds. We had it all to our ourselves, which was very enjoyable. We hiked to the waterfall and again there was no one there. Pretty awesome. On the way back crowds started coming by bus loads from the cruise ship.