Trip Report: Lumberjacks in Ketchikan and Tracy Arm Strait

Ed. Note: This is part three in our six-part series of “Trip Reports” from our recent trip to Seattle, British Columbia and Alaska aboard the Celebrity Solstice. You may also enjoy parts 1, 2, 4, 5, & 6.

After departing Seattle, and getting to know our ship better on our first sea day, it was time for our first port.

We started the day off with room service breakfast, which we ate while peering out our balcony window at scenic Ketchikan. This is where we spotted our first wildlife of the trip, a bald eagle, with a nest just across from the port (right abovee that maroon building…)

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Scenic, but small, Ketchikan.

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A bit blurry, but he’s there.  We named him Jerry.

By 8:30am, we were ready to head off the ship, and decided to take a stroll around the town. We saw several totems, as well as some charming local historical signs, before heading over to the Great Alaskan Lumberjack Show. The show, featuring champion timbersport athletes from the U.S. and Canada performing events such as speed sawing, log rolling and pole climbing, was actually really fun, and we enjoyed cheering for our favorites.

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The hubby tries totem modeling, three ways.

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Log rolling.  Photo courtesy the Alaskan Lumberjack Show.

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The sign on the local brothel.  They offer tours now.

After the show, we enjoyed a quick seafood lunch onshore at Annabelle’s Chowder House, before heading back to the ship. We had taken it pretty easy, as our real adventure was to begin the next day.

We set our alarm clock for 5:00 a.m., when we were scheduled to enter the Tracy Arm Strait.  Around 5:30, naturalist Brent Nixon came on the ship’s PA system, and we wrapped in blankets and gathered on our balcony to watch the show. Unfortunately, there was too much ice in the Tracy Arm, and so we ended up going up the Endicott Arm instead.

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As we approached the glacier, the sea turned an iridescent teal. It was awesome.

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The Dawes Glacier.

Because Endicott Arm is wider than Tracy Arm, we didn’t see any wildlife, but we did get close enough to get a view of the Dawes Glacier – and that’s also where we disembarked, in the middle of the sea, to climb onboard a much smaller catamaran for the Tracy Arm Fjord & Glacier Explorer excursion.

Once onboard the catamaran, our ship left to head back out the strait, leaving us able to go closer to the glacier. We spied several seals lying on the floating iceberg, but then, the real show started.

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Watching our ship sail away through the iceberg field.

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Seals just chillaxin’ on the ice. Our guide said they were likely pregnant.

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Glacier Selfie!

Slowly at first, piece by piece, and then suddenly all at once an absolutely HUGE shelf of ice calved from the glacier. It created a huge wave, and was thrilling to watch – but also scary for what it means for our planet that the glaciers are disintegrating that quickly.

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You can see the splash on the left side – it went even higher than the glacier itself. The photos just don’t even capture the magnitude; it was like watching a 4-story condo building crash into the water.

After the group had their fill of glacier photos, we set out for Juneau along the narrow straits.  Along the way, though, we encountered a pod of orcas including a mother with a new calf. The males in the group were feeling particularly playful, and kept doing big backflops for us.  It was really amazing!

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Bellyflop!

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Mama and Baby Orca

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You’ll note that everyone able to stay out on the deck was wearing manmade materials – things that would keep out the wind.

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Another glacier, up in the mountains, as we headed back to Juneau.  This one was receding too.

A bit after that, we headed North again and around 1:30 met the ship in Juneau.  Stay tuned for the next installment for more info on what we did in Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria!

 

Whitney