From the National Geographic Sea Lion in Alaska, Tuesday, May 25, 2010
After a glorious sunset last night that turned the snow-capped mountains purple and pink, we woke up this morning refreshed and energized. The guests and staff aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion were entertained before breakfast by the splashes and antics of playful sea otters. It’s mating time for the furry creatures, which may have accounted for the abundance of the critters in one area. We have had really good weather the past few days, and today, although slightly overcast, was still beautiful. After a stretch class on the bridge deck we fueled up at breakfast and then went ashore at Saginaw Bay for hikes and kayaking. The tide was really low and we browsed the intertidal for clams, barnacles, and fossils. Saginaw Bay is known for its plethora of prehistoric fossils, some dating to over 250 million years ago. William, one of our naturalists, found a beautiful specimen of an ancient clam embedded in a large rock. The bay was exceptionally calm and kayaking was peaceful as we paddled along the shore, stopping to look at bald eagles perched on treetops and to take in the snow-capped mountains behind us. A mysterious pictograph, or symbol drawn on stone, of a red sun greeted more intrepid kayakers as they crossed the bay and rounded a rocky bend. No one knows who drew the sun, as many different native people claim that the symbol was sketched by them.
After lunch, the afternoon was spent aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion looking for wildlife and sailing through Red Bluffs, a stunning fjord that exhibited waterfalls everywhere we looked. The falls ranged in size, length, and vigor – from long and narrow ones, to shorter cascades that gushed powerfully down from the snowy peaks. The narrow inlet ended in a grassy field studded with fallen logs and tree trunks. Upon further inspection, one of the ‘logs’ transformed into a brown bear, then a second bear appeared at its side. Excitement ran through the guests as they viewed their first bears of the trip, as the animals browsed along the shoreline. All of a sudden, the bears began running toward the edge of the forest, spooked by some noise or sudden movement. They didn’t go far though and a few minutes later one of the bears made his way back down the fallen tree, which was raised several feet off the ground that he had lumbered across.
We left the bears and headed back out of Red Bluffs, passing again, the waterfalls and steep cliffs dotted with Sitka spruce and hemlocks. It was a good afternoon for massages and spa therapies. As we continued on, I indulged several guests with treatments as Bette Lou gave a lecture on the history of Alaska in the lounge.
As dessert was being served after dinner, the Captain spotted a brown bear in the north arm of Hood Bay. Once again, we gathered at the bow to watch the Alaskan wildlife and savor the last moments of the day.
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