Patagonia has been kind to us. This place, famous for its raging winds, took a slow breath today and gave us a dark sort of calm…allowing us to step into our Zodiacs and travel at the same level as the glistening chunks of ice that have been shed from the glaciers.

We’ve been making our way westward along the Beagle Channel. This morning, we ventured northward into Pia Fjord, a steep-sided and bifurcating, glacially carved inlet, which is bypassed by most expedition ships because of the shallow gravel bar blocking its mouth.

That bar, composed of glacial till, is the terminal moraine deposited by the Pia Glacier, marking its former maximum reach. There is one safe but narrow channel through, which National Geographic Resolution expertly navigated. We continued northward, up the right branch of the fjord, as stark grey cliffs towering above closed in overhead. Once in sight of the glacier, we launched our Zodiacs for a morning cruise.

Back on board, we enjoyed lunch as we headed back to the Beagle Channel and then up to Garibaldi Fjord for our second Zodiac cruise. This fjord is deeper, narrower, and darker than Pia, and its waters are thick with drifting glacier ice. The somber skies didn’t worry us. Our on-board National Geographic photographer, Macduff Everton, had given us tips the night before for shooting when it’s overcast (crucial knowledge for Patagonia!). We had lots of opportunities on the water to play with light, color, composition, and reflection. Another unforgettable day.