From the rail of Star Princess, passengers watch for calving chunks of ice from 250-foot-high Margerie Glacier in Glacier Bay National Park. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)
I walked out on deck from my windowless cabin Wednesday morning to spirit-soaring sunshine glinting off jagged, snowy mountains that seemed to be reaching for the North Pole.
This day, the Star Princess would be the first cruise ship of the season into famed Glacier Bay.
The snowy Fairweather Range shields Glacier Bay National Park from Pacific weather. (photo by Brian J. Cantwell / The Seattle Times)
The weather was a huge gift. But a half-hour later as we chugged past Russell Island, where John Muir camped in 1879 because that’s where the glacier reached then — more than 10 miles further south than today — a little black cloud sneaked in past 15,300-foot Mount Fairweather, which usually catches all the weather. Everybody crowded out on the bow was suddenly pummeled by an icy wind that blew off hats and knocked over empty chairs.
“We get the fog, but we’re not used to THIS,” shouted Vicki Sullivan, from Santa Rosa, Calif., as she huddled in the lee of her big husband, Steve Sullivan. All over the Star Princess, passengers were wrapping their heads in the plaid blankets handed out by deck stewards.
But when we reached the head of Tarr Inlet, where chunks of ice and larger bergs dotted the water like salt covers a pretzel,