Welcome to our Adventure!

Al and I are thrilled that you have found your way to our blog. We hope you enjoy reading our journal and viewing our photographs of the natural wonder of our United States of America. Let's hit the road together!
Homer, Alaska

Friday, August 19, 2022

Seward: Fishing, Glaciers, and Wildlife

 We arrived in Seward on July 8 for a week. We had 2 fishing trips planned, a wildlife/glaciers tour of the Kenai Fjords booked, and planned on a few other activities including hiking to one of the glaciers you can approach safely on foot. And of course, the rainy weather had settled in quite well at this point, with no let-up in sight. So, what do we do? Put on raincoats and boots and head on out. The only thing we had to juggle a bit was the fishing charter, as the first day was canceled due to windy conditions. When checking in, the guys were told it was canceled on Saturday as they don't wish to fish in 9-foot seas. Al said no problem, either does he! Fortunately, they had room on their Tuesday charter that they could jump on. So the fishing charters were on, and here are the results:

The first trip was the 3 guys. No picture at the dock as the fish were cleaned on the boat prior to arriving back to the dock, but they caught their limit of halibut, rockfish, and salmon.

Second day when Jonell joined the fishing team: halibut, rockfish, and salmon.

While the guys were fishing one day, we girls headed up to the Kenai Fjords National Park Visitor Center where we accessed the trail to walk to the Exit Glacier. This is the only part of the park that is accessible by road. It was named Exit Glacier by grateful backcountry travelers, descending 3000 feet in just a few miles from the Harding Icefield, forming a stunning natural ramp. It is also a poignant sign of the impact of climate change occurring causing the glacial retreat. There are markers all along the road leading to the visitor center and then on the trail to the glacier itself showing where the glacier terminus, or "toe," would have been at various time periods.

Graphic representation of the glacier's retreat from 1815 to 2007. In 2019, the latest year I can find data, the glacier lost 252 feet, the most lost in any single summer on record.

This is a topographical map in the visitor center of the Harding Icefield atop the Kenai Peninsula in the Kenai Fjords National Park. Seward is all the way on the right-hand side at the head of Resurrection Bay. On our cruise that we take, we are going out to the Northwestern Glacier, at the head of Northwestern Lagoon and Harris Bay in the middle of the map.
The Harding Icefield and its outflowing glaciers cover 700 square miles of Alaska's Kenai Mountains in glacier ice. Up to 40 different glaciers of different sizes and types flow off the Harding Icefield.

Exit Glacier, as close as we could get to it. 

Zoomed in picture of the terminal edge. You could actually hear the ice cracking and see a chunk floating down the glacial river from time to time.

Seward harbor on Resurrection Bay

There are several murals painted on buildings throughout the town. I would have liked to have spent more time exploring the town on foot. We did walk the waterfront trail in between rain storms one day. There is a campground right at the end of town on the bay, and where it isn't anything more than a parking lot, really, in retrospect, I think I would stay there next time. We stayed at a campground outside of town, which was very nice and quiet, but it would be nice to be able to walk to town at will like we did in Valdez. 
You can see the back of a couple RVs right along the bayfront. The view, especially on a nice day, makes up for the less than stellar sites.

One morning we visited the Alaskan SeaLife Center, which was a pretty nice small exhibit of fish and marine animals in the waters off Alaska. 

Finally, what was the highlight of the stay in Seward for me, we went on an all-day boat trip with Major Marines to view wildlife and glaciers. Again, we had a puppy sitter for Cody to take him out a couple times during the day so I could go on the trip without any guilt :-). The day was cloudy, but at least it wasn't raining and the wind wasn't bad. So we bundled up, having learned our lesson on the glacier trip in Valdez, and headed out.

Bundled up and ready to go.

We saw several humpback whales during the day in different areas. This one was lunge feeding very close to the island's rocky shore. It shows how steeply it drops off that the whale can get so close to the rocks.

We then motored through the Chiswell group of islands, home to massive bird rookeries.

All different species of birds were literally all over the rockface on ledges.

I finally spotted some puffins nesting on the ledges.

Puffins are surprisingly difficult to catch on the water. They seem to fly off as a boat approaches. It isn't the greatest picture, but I got one.

We then headed up to Northwestern Glacier. It did not have the impressive icefield to navigate through like Columbia, but was still a pretty impressive block of ice. 

Harbor seals hanging out on the iceflows.

We saw several nice calvings while we floated around.
There was an ice cave opening on the terminal edge of Northwestern Glacier, and as we floated around watching, you could see chunks falling off the roof into the water below.

This was a cove off Harris Bay that had a multitude of waterfall threads running down from the Harding Icefield cap above. 

And finally, a highlight for me was the finding of a pod of orcas as we were heading back to the harbor. They never really came far out of the water, but it was thrilling to see them for sure. I was very happy that on my last day of any sea life viewing on the trip we saw the orcas.

So we had a pretty full week in Seward. Even with the lousy weather, we were able to do all of our activities. So we prepared to head further down the peninsula to the farthest point, the town of Homer. There's another fishing trip, an overnight charter that the guys are going on, and my personal highlight of the summer: bears!

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