A warm, gray morning greeted us aboard National Geographic Venture, continuing a run of unbelievably pleasant weather. Upon landing at Lake Eva, hikers trekked into a forest interspersed with trees that are centuries old. The hardiest among us took the opportunity to cool off in the Lake, swimming in the shadow of the evergreens and in the company of loons. For those inclined to simply view the water, the salmon stream that hugs the trail served as a poignant reminder of the reason for the ecological bounty we have the privilege to enjoy. The stream swelled with spawning fish fighting the rushing water, and viewing the terminus of the salmon migration journey fills the observer with great emotion.

An afternoon filled with cruising, informative presentations, and the occasional cetacean sighting was the perfect breather before the day’s final operation: bear viewing at Pavlof Harbor. From the safety of the riverbanks, we watched as coastal brown bears fed. Keenly aware of our presence, the bears spared only a passing glance before returning to their feeding. The bears jostled for positioning as subadults were promptly sent scurrying away by mature bears along the stream’s most nutritive sections. Some bathed in the brisk waters of the stream while gulls flocked to the salmon scraps. Again, emotions overtook the group. The bears brought grown men to tears and children from fear to elation. Even the naturalists and crew could hardly contain themselves.

National Geographic Venture has now set a course for Glacier Bay National Park. Known for phenomenal wildlife viewing, imposing geologic features, and magnificent glaciers, the anticipation on board is palpable.