We started our journey on the Fourth of July aboard National Geographic Sea Lion. A faint fog surrounded Misty Fjords as we cruised to our kayak destination. Naturalists stood out on the bow, searching for wildlife along the coastline. Marbled murrelets (Brachyramphus marmoratus) and harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) briefly popped above the surface, giving guests a sneak peek of the wildlife to come on our journey. As the day went on, the fog lifted, and the sun came out in full force. Kayaking provided a refreshing reprieve as guests explored the intertidal zone exposed during low tide. Patches of bright green algae and characteristic rockweed lined the granite walls, while witch’s hair hung from Sitka spruce and gently swayed in the breeze. After working up an appetite, guests were given a nice surprise with a Fourth of July barbeque on the sundeck. Festive decorations by hotel manager Louie provided a nice touch, and the stewards joined in on the fun and wore red, white, and blue headbands. For the afternoon activities, Zodiac cruises were a change in pace for everyone, as we got the chance to catch a mighty breeze zooming through the bay. Soon, Owl Pass loomed overhead as National Geographic Sea Lion cruised through the fjord, and guests looked on from the Zodiacs. A release of pressure allowed slabs of granite to crack and fall away, exposing what looks like the face of an owl and providing a wonderful photo opportunity. Waterfalls were scattered all along the steep granite walls. Pulling up to one of the gushing falls, guests got the chance to press their hands against the mountainside and feel the rush of the icy cold glacial water streaming down. A quiet moment was also taken to revel in the serenity and beauty of Southeast Alaska. The day ended with a wonderful presentation by naturalist Andy Putnam featuring the intertidal zone. With the help of a few other naturalists acting as celestial beings, Putnam explained how the moon and sun cause the extreme tides that occur on our planet. With the day at a close, guests went to bed content and excited for the next step of the trip.

Photo caption: The face of Owl Pass on a sunny day in Misty Fjords.