Pacific Ocean

Kallima in Alaska: Glacier Bay, or the wild life

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Here we are, then, in Glacier Bay, at the foot of the Fairweather chain (with its summit at 4,600m), which includes several hundred glaciers, a few of which drop into the sea. The bay was dug out during the 1700s, by the advance of the moraine, then their retreat over several tens of miles. At the beginning of the 20th century, the site became a National Park, and the number of boats allowed to visit is limited; no more than 25 per day, plus 2 liners. You therefore have to request a permit, two months before the desired date. We hadn’t been able to do this, as we were then between the Marquesas and Hawaii. There remained a second chance: telephone 48 hours before the desired date, and it worked! A bit of grey as we climbed and came down again, but between the two, a festival of images which will remain engraved in our memories! Glacier Bay has to be earned; you have to know how to be patient, so you don’t crack up when it rains all day, when the wind and the current slow your progress, when you never see the wildlife advertised at the entrance to the Park. Bears, mountain goats, wolves, seals…but where are they? Arriving at the glaciers, up high at 59°N and some 80 miles from the entrance to the Park is magic, especially when the sun makes an appearance and turns the ice blue. Kallima slipped in front of huge ice walls, in the middle of the growlers. From time to time, there was a dull rumbling, then an enormous ‘splash’, as part of the glacier fell into the water. At Marjorie Glacier we were alone, and could take as many pictures as we wanted. Then John Hopkins Glacier, surrounded by high mountains and at least another ten glaciers, but ones which don’t fall into the sea. Magic, I tell you! Finally, one morning, we caught sight of two bears one after the other, walking on the beach looking for food and turning over stones looking for shellfish. Then suddenly, we glimpsed some sea lions, a whale which blew, then two, three, up to eight in front of us; they jumped and beat their tails on the water. We forgot the rain!

Who: Brigitte & Serge

Where: Glacier Bay, Alaska, Pacific Ocean

Boat: Catana 47


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