Alaska Inside Passage

Tracy Arm

Sunday, August 23, 2015S.V. CAMBRIA

The first official day of summer smelled like winter. The entrance to Tracy Arm was dotted with large icebergs, some as big as houses. And as we passed them, we could feel the cold and smell the ice and snow.



We moved up the inlet, slowly, anticipating what was to come. The water turned the most amazing shade of aquamarine. The channel grew narrower, more intimate, with every mile that passed under our keel.


“Why isn’t this considered one of the natural wonders of the world,” David asked. Before I could answer I heard, “because you can’t drive to it.”


Each granite face carries the scars of its past and has a story to tell . . . is telling a story: The story of its life. How it was carved and changed by the forces of melting snow and ice.

In the clearing stands a boxer and a fighter by his trade.
And he carries the reminders of every glove that laid him down or 
cut him until he cried out in his anger and his shame,
“I am leaving. I am leaving.”
But the fighter still remains.
Simon & Garfunkel


We were staring at the remnants of the last ice age, a fact neither of us could escape. I heard David softly say, “It’s hard not to get choked up over something like this. It’s just so raw.”



Raw is the perfect word . . . the perfect emotion.  

The words I have can barely describe these surroundings. Majestic? Breathtaking? Awesome? Imposing? Or simply overwhelming? Yes, these and more as all the appropriate superlatives have been wasted on lesser things. Initimidated. Awestruck. By the raw immensity. Unspoiled purity. Power. Substance. Sheer magnificence. Visceral beauty. Gut wrenching in-your-face splendour ... no churchyard blushing rose this.

I’m sure that, in these surroundings, the collective pens of Thomas Gray, Wordsworth, Coleridge or Keats would have been well challenged. Low-lying clouds brushing over ice-blue glaciers. The sun’s rays bringing forth colours and hues I have never before seen in my whole life and which exist beyond the limits of my imagination. Simply stated, the landscape has one message “Pay attention – I am Special. I am beautiful.  In terms of your life span I am immortal. Forged by fire and incredible forces long ago, I was once intact. Whole. Until the moving ice packs ripped at my flesh; tore open great gashes in my skin; ground me into dust and gravel. Wind, snow, ice, rain and the melting glacial water cut deeply and carried away pieces of me; millenia of freeze and thaw all have shaped me – changed my aspect. Yet here I still stand. Proud. Splendid. Truly magnificent. Not only am I of this land, I am this land. You are merely a visitor. I am substantial. At best, you are but a shadow passing briefly across the face of the earth.” – David

All too soon the sun dipped below the towering mountains, covering the scene in shadowy darkness. Our time in Tracy Arm was over.


Note: This blog was written on Sunday, 21 June, 2015.

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