Saturday, June 13, 2015

Tracy Arm, Sawyer Glacier

Beautiful Tracy Arm Fjord
Steep Rising Granite Cliffs, Tracy Arm
A visit to Sawyer Glacier in beautiful Tracy Arm Fjord is a 45 mile trip from Juneau, located off Stephens Passage.  The entrance to the Fjord is called Holkham Bay and is where we previously encountered ice bergs on our way north with Uno.  The Delorme track shows our recent trip to Sawyer Glacier in record time, that’s because we were aboard the tour boat Adventure Bound, cruising between 18 and 21knots.  Why risk damaging the props on Got d’ Fever or scraping off the bottom paint; it was nice to just relax and let someone else concentrate on being helmsman for a change.  Over 30-miles long, Tracy Arm Fjord is very picturesque with steep granite cliffs and cirque valleys with North and South Sawyer Glaciers at its terminus.  
South Sawyer Glacier
A Very Large Ice Berg!
South Sawyer Glacier has considerable floating ice ranging from hand-sized pieces to house size pieces, while North Sawyer Glacier is more open for navigation.  
Eagle atop the Berg
Calving still occurs at these glaciers; however, they have been retreating so there is less calving due to the narrowed terminus and shallower water.  Calving rate is related to water depth and reduced calving helps lead to a more positive mass balance; at the same time, an increased snow line and reduced height of the glacier surface leads to reduced mass balance.  
South Sawyer Glacier
Adventure Bound took us to both South and North Sawyer Glaciers, each scenic and unique in their own way.  
Seals afloat at South Sawyer
Numerous seals and seal pups were adrift on the ice bergs as we carefully made our way through the clogged ice field for a closer look at South Sawyer Glacier; and scenic North Sawyer Glacier displays deep blue colors and interesting shapes; both glaciers are surrounded by mountain peaks and granite cliffs.  Everyone marveled at the walls of ice and thundering sounds as pieces broke off, falling to the sea below.  
A Tour Ship dwarfed by North Sawyer Glacier
Calving at North Sawyer Glacier
Eagles, porpoise, sea lions, and whales were among the wildlife spotted over the course of our trip.  
North Sawyer Glacier
Interesting Shapes and Deep Blue Color, North Sawyer Glacier
It was a nice one-day excursion, leaving Juneau at 8am and returning by 5pm, a fast, convenient way to see Tracy Arm.

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