Last Woman Standing

It has been a busy week with lots of massage, hiking, and Zodiac cruises. Once again, we had amazing weather (until this afternoon when we hit high winds and stinging rain).  I led several hikes including one at Port Houghton, where I and most of the other naturalists, including the expedition leader, have never been. It was so beautiful with all the wildflowers in bloom and tidal pools with starfish, sea urchins, and hundreds of mussels. I led a longer hike with less interpretation (meaning I don’t stop and identify every plant we pass) and we walked along the river to a lake. Harbor seals played in the water, slapping their tails and casting a curious eye toward us as we made our way along the rocky shore. On our way back we spotted some moose tracks before ducking into the dense forest carpeted with spiny devil’s club and fallen trees. A bit of bushwhacking brought us to a black bear scratching post scarred with deep claw marks and flecked with coarse hair. Luckily, though, no sign of the bear. We ended the hike by taking a few minutes to sit on the grassy meadow and enjoy the beautiful mountains and green forests.

Another highlight of the trip was the LaConte ice fields. We took Zodiacs out among the icebergs, some as tall as 70 feet. I wrote a DER about the morning, and you can read it here. I’m always amazed at the diversity of the icebergs – the colors range from clear, to white, to a dark, iridescent blue, to a clear, diamond-like aquamarine. The sizes also vary from huge towering sculptures, to tiny bits that you can scoop out of the icy water and use as ice cubes in your evening cocktail.

Glacier Bay was also interesting for a few reasons. We saw a pair of black bears on shore in the morning, which was a treat because we vary rarely see the black kind. Later in the morning one of the guests spotted a brown bear climbing up a rock face, feeding on flowers and very dexterously navigating the crevasses, ledges, and steep slopes. Unfortunately, I was in a massage and I didn’t get to see the bear. If I had known he was scaling up a rock mountain, I would have given my guest a bathrobe and stepped outside to watch… We were also in the park with the Sea Bird, which almost never happens due to our different schedules, so it was fun to see our sister ship pass by us as we left the face of Marjorie glacier. After dinner both ships were docked at Bartlett Cove, so the two crews got to mingle and catch up on boat life.

We’re losing (and gaining) a few staff members this turn-around day, which I’m pretty sad about. It has been such a good group of people and I don’t want it to change! But I’ll have to get used to it because people are constantly coming and going. William is heading back to Mexico. Stephanie is off to her home in England for ten days, then to Bali for three weeks and finally to the Explorer to sail the Arctic seas – I’m so jealous of her travels. And Doug is heading north to Denali to lead Lindblad’s pre and post trip excursions in the park. So it’s me, John, Tom, and Jeff left, with three more staff arriving tomorrow, all male – hence the title of this entry. At least I’ll have my own cabin…

I have five more weeks on this contract, which I’m sure will go by fast because these weeks fly by. I’m hoping for some more good photo opportunities and more good stories!


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