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Experience the Magic of Glacier Bay, Alaska: Guest Post by Dirt In My Shoes

Good morning, lovely readers! I'm floating around somewhere in the Caribbean for my fifth anniversary cruise and enjoying every minute of it. I'm really excited to hand the blog over to Ash from Dirt In My Shoes today because she's had some amazing adventures in parts of the U.S. that I haven't visited. Plus, her posts are peppered with gorgeous photos! 

Enjoy her guest post about one of Alaska's most beautiful national parks. See you in a week!

Hello, fellow Mariners!  My name is Ash and I write over at Dirt In My Shoes.  Because I am a former park ranger, I love to help people create unforgettable memories and experiences in our beautiful National Parks.

I was blessed to live and work in Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, and I truly believe it is one of the most magical places on this earth.  Nowhere else is as wild with the sheer beauty that comes from being untouched by the human hand.  It took my breath away just to stand and watch the forces of Mother Nature hard at work, shifting and shaping the landscape.  The grand and majestic glaciers move with such force that the rocks and the trees bow down to their power.  Living creatures dot every inch of the region, some big and some small, that make me grateful to be a part of this incredible world.

The thing that people always said was that they wished that they had made it to Glacier Bay sooner, and that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for them.  Although I can’t get you on a plane and take you there, I can provide you with these 5 things to do to experience the magic of Glacier Bay!

1.  Go Halibut Fishing
Halibut fishing with Forrest Braden of True North Sportfishing
I am not much of a fisherwoman, but I could not pass up the opportunity to go fishing in the Alaskan Seas.  I will never forget the feeling of reeling in not only one, but TWO fish that each weighed in at half of my body weight.  What a grueling process trying to wrestle those things into the boat.  Oh yeah, and then there was this time that a very rude sea lion ate my fish while I was reeling it in.  My heart was pounding frantically.  Halibut fishing in Glacier Bay is an experience that will forever be etched in my memory.

Fishing is a part of life for all who live or lived near Glacier Bay.  The area was once inhabited by members of the Huna Tlingit Tribe, who were long ago displaced by the glaciers creeping through the waters and onto their land.  Even today, they depend on the ocean and its creatures to stay alive, and you can feel that reverence and respect being passed down to all who visit.

2.  Hike to the Bartlett River

Not many hiking trails exist in Glacier Bay, so the Bartlett River Trail was one that I hiked often.  I enjoyed weaving through a forest of old trees covered in a blanket of moss, listening to the warble of the birds perched high above me.  In the distance, I loved hearing the occasional crunch of a moose making its way through the brush.  And then there is the river.  That gorgeous river with such crystal clear water you can see every detail of the salmon swimming under its surface.

This was one of my favorite areas to just sit and watch and listen, taking it all in.  We need more places like this in the world.  Somewhere that we can truly experience nature.

3.  Explore the Intertidal Zone

The tides at Glacier Bay are a force to be reckoned with and something that should not be taken lightly.  Land that is exposed at one time of day can be completely immersed by feet of water within a few short hours.  At low tide, the area that was once covered in water becomes entirely visible and dozens of unique creatures can be found.  My favorites were the starfish and the sea urchins, but sometimes I would see things that I never knew even existed on this earth.

My supervisor at Glacier Bay was one of the first Rescue Swimmers for the Coast Guard.  He was actually interviewed for the movie The Guardian and was a great inspiration to me.  The most memorable piece of advice I learned from him was to take time to get down on your hands and knees and appreciate the smallest things before you.  While appreciating the small things, the big things start to make more sense.  That is how I felt peering into those tide pools, and that is why everyone needs to experience the intertidal zone at Glacier Bay.

4.  Kayak in Bartlett Cove

The magic of Glacier Bay is best seen from the water.  Kayaking gives you a chance to be close to the many animals that call this place home, and gives you a greater appreciation for the landscape that surrounds you.  I had some incredible encounters with marine wildlife from my kayak.  I felt the spray from a humpback whale, was playfully followed by a seal, had harbor porpoises swimming underneath me, and was caught in the middle of an otter play-time.

Harbor porpoises that were following me around in my kayak

Being on the water is a humbling experience as you submit to Mother Nature and her tidal mood swings.  In a way, you almost feel out of control because you never know what is going to happen.  Often, I wouldn’t even paddle.  It was so invigorating to be surrounded by so much beauty and to truly allow myself to be taken by surprise.

5.  See the Glaciers
Reid Glacier

Well, you can’t visit Glacier Bay without seeing any glaciers!  Have you ever seen a glacier calve and heard the thunderous roar that the ice makes as it drops into the sea?  You need to visit the Margerie Glacier and just wait in patience to witness this glorious sight.  

Margerie Glacier

Next, be sure to snap a photo of the Johns Hopkins Glacier with its dramatic mountain backdrop and seals hanging out on the drifting ice.  Then, if you are really lucky, you will be able to see the Reid Glacier from the shore at low tide, getting up close to appreciate its vastness.

Each glacier in Glacier Bay has its own personality and characteristics.  Taking a boat tour of the Bay will help you get to know the massive sheets of ice that give this beautiful National Park its name.  You will be awe-struck and inspired.

Thanks for joining me on this magical tour of Glacier Bay National Park.  While these 5 things are guaranteed to provide you some amazing experiences, I’ve got a few more ideas for you up my sleeve!  I am happy to help you plan your visit so be sure to keep in touch!

Make sure to show Ash and her fantastic blog some love!