This is the day we saved all those quarters, dimes and nickels for.
Along with 10 other customers from MO, NC, SC and CA we joined the Sunny Cove Kayak Adventure to the Holgate Glacier one of the major glaciers in the Seward area. We were guided by Liz and Andrew our wonderful guides and naturalists and Nick our shuttle boat’s Captain.
In 1620 when the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock the Holgate glacier reached to our drop off point 3.5 miles from the current glacier location. We went thru the orientation process on safety and procedures and started our group paddle along the edge of the Holgate Fiord. So many sea birds, puffins, cormorants, a variety of gulls, many of which we had seen the day before at the Alaska Sea Life Center.
We paddled for 2 plus hours before we approached the glacier, a giant mass of compacted ice of multiple colors towering over 600 feet high from the ocean surface littered with ice chunks of various sizes.
We had the treat of one small calving episode (ice breaking off the glacier and falling into the ocean) and then went to the near-by beach to have warm soup and load up the boats for our long ride home.
Paul was pretty pooped after the long, wet and cold paddle (on this rainy day) and started napping on Mindy’s lap when a loud shout of “humpbacks” arose.
Side bar….Paul (and his son Christopher) have been studying and tracking Orcas (Killer Whales) for years past but never have a had a chance to see humpback whales in the wild until today.
After the initial sighting we were all on the fore and aft deck of our vessels keeping a keen eye on the ocean’s surface. Andrew saw the blowhole spouts and said “looks like 10-12 Humpbacks”
The birds began to congregate around the feeding whales and soon we were watching the intricate cooperative behavior call “bubble netting” where the humpbacks create a large ring of breath bubbles that confuse the fish making for an easy meal for the hungry whales.
Then without notice, a breakaway humpback started breaching with 3-4 full jumps out of the water and crashing to our delight and squeals into the water. Without expectations another bucket list event before our eyes multiple times….waiting on others photographs videos to share.
We saw many other animals in addition to the birds and humpbacks – starting with the sea otter resting on his back in the water as we motored by. We also saw sea lions resting on the rocks of one island and harbor seals in a few places. My favorite was the harbor seal who seemed to be following us. He kept popping his head out of the water near our kayaks while we were paddling near the glacier.
And yes, the massive size of the glacier when seen from a kayak is awe inspiring!
Back at the Nauti Otter Inn, we shared stories of the day with other travelers and shared dinner with fellow Minnesotans Henry and Michael – they provided the cooked halibut and we provided the pesto pasta which proved to be a good combination.