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Kenai Fjord Tour 11:30 AM Departure Alaska Heritage Tours 8/31/2004

By Chris Guenzler

The bus delivered us to the offices and I went in to get my boarding pass. I then boarded the Coastal Explorer Boat. Below is information about the Kenai Fjord Tour.

Cruises May 1 thru October 3
6-hour cruise (11:30 AM to 5:30 PM)
Fits easily with scheduled transportation
Includes hot lunch served on cruise
$115 for Adults / $57.50 for Children (2-11)

Sweeping from rocky coastline to glacier-crowned peaks, Kenai Fjords National Park encompasses 607,805 acres of unspoiled wilderness on the southeast coast of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula. The park is capped by the Harding Icefield, a relic from past ice-ages and the largest icefield entirely within U.S. borders. Visitors witness a landscape continuously shaped by glaciers, earthquakes, and storms. Orcas, otters, puffins, bear, moose and mountain goats are just a few of the numerous animals that make their home in this ever-changing place where mountains, ice and ocean meet. The Park offers a range of opportunities for visitors, students and scientists to explore, study and enjoy this special piece of our nation's natural and cultural heritage.

Kenai Fjords National Park Geographic Overview

Kenai Fjords National Park is a sequestered glacial landscape of ice, tidewater glaciers, deeply chiseled fjords, and jagged peninsulas formed by the forces of the Harding and Grewingk-Yalik icefields as they plunge into the sea. Located on the southeastern or seaward coast of the one hundred and seventy-mile-long Kenai Peninsula, the park abuts the Kenai Mountains to the north and west. These lofty mountains, part of the Chugach and St. Elias ranges, bisect the peninsula close to the southeastern coast and extend to Kodiak and Afognak islands. Only the mountain peaks (nunataks) are visible above the permanent mantle of ice and snow of the icefield. Along the coast, the summits of the same mountain range surface as offshore island stacks. As the glaciers recede the fjords deepen, enlarging and exposing peninsulas that indent the coast and disappear into the sea.

This park has a very dynamic setting as it is located on an active tectonic shelf of the Pacific Ocean Plate that follows the coast from Port Dick (west of Nuka Bay) to Day Harbor (east of Seward). This is one of the most seismically erratic regions of the United States. During the 1964 earthquake lands within the Kenai Fjords National Park subsided. The tremor dropped the coastline from three to six vertical feet in most areas and attempted to counterbalance the force by raising it in others. As the shifting plate moves and grates against the continental landmass, the coast submits to the sea. This process is believed to have begun after the last major period of glaciation, 20,000 years ago.

The Kenai Fjords Tour 8/31/2004

We departed from the dock at 11:45 AM backing out of the dock. I took a bench seat on the rear of the 2nd Deck.

The boat made its way out of Seward's small harbor and out into Resurrection Bay where the boat picked up speed.

The pilot spotted a pair of sea otters and slowed to a crawl so everyone could get a good pictures of them.

Minutes later three more otters were spotted.

A few more minutes we passed the Goodwin Glacier. Marathon Mountain stood high above Seward behind us. The boat passed Lowell Point and later Caines Head that once had a fort on it during World War II.

Here are three puffins out enjoying their day.

While everyone was on one side of the boat the puffins were, here is the view from the other side of the boat.

The boat moved close so everyone could view the red star fish clinging to the rocks.

Moments later a bald eagle was spotted up on the point above the red star fish.

Another fantastic view of the glaciers above Resurrection Bay to the northeast.

The boat passed Calisto Head and the Bear Glacier came into view. Our tour boat passed Fox, Hive and Rugged Island to our right and crossed the Harding Gateway out into the Gulf of Alaska. The swell today is a mere one foot but they said that last week they had 14 foot swells and 40 MPH winds. Was I ever glad to be on board today! I sure have had good luck with the sea and weather on this trip. All passengers then had a turn to pick up their lunch of either fish or chicken strips with either lemonade or ice water to drink.

Stellar sea lions were on the rocks of No Name Island.

Various sea birds were also on the rocks there.

Our ship rounded Alligo Point with interesting rocks.

Looking up Aialik Bay.

It always amazes me where you can find trees.

More sea lions on Grotto Island.

More interesting rocks.

More birds seen from the boat.

Even more birds.

Grotto Island.

Another bald eagle found with another also in this tree.

Look for a group of birds feeding and sometime you can find a humpback whale.

Another picture of this beautiful creature.

It is feeding time for the birds.

We took off a few minutes later heading up Aialik Bay as the great and stunning views continued.

A view of the Holgate Glacier from a distance.

A view of the magnificent Pederson Glacier.

A few minutes later we approached the Aialik Glacier.

More close up views of the Aialik Glacier and it calving.

Chris and the Aialik Glacier which is fed by the 720 square mile Harding Icefield.

After thirty minutes I said goodbye to the Aialik Glacier.

Looking back to where we had been!

Goodbye to the Pederson Glacier.

Goodbye Holgate Glacier.

Later our boat passed Three Window Rock.

We passed another water made rock feature.

A few minutes later we stopped for a pair of mountain goats, a mom and kid.

We rounded Aialik Cape then passed No Name Island. Chocolate Chip Cookies were passed out to all the passengers who were all enjoying the tour. A Puffin then raced the boat.

We travelled by Pilot Island.

We found another hump back whale who did some tail slaps and breached putting on a great show.

More whale views. With that done we started heading back to Seward.

Dall porpoises found our boat and they had one great time. After that we went straight back to Seward arriving there at 5:36 PM. A special thank you to the entire crew of the Coastal Explorer, Kenai Fjord Tour and to Lisa Cruz who arranged this entire wonderful experience for me. If you ever get to Seward a Kenai Fjord Tour is a must do. It has my highest recommendation. The bus got me back to the train with plenty of time to spare before my departure time back to Anchorage.

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