Our final day on the boat was spent sailing the Misty Fjords National Monument, a wilderness area that is part of SE Alaska’s Inside Passage, specifically in Tongass National Forest. John Muir once called the area the Yosemite of Alaska due to the similar glacial topography. It is best described as “a natural mosaic of sea cliffs, steep fjords, and rock walls jutting 3000 feet straight out of the ocean.” Because of the remoteness of the area, there are really only two ways to visit: by boat and by float plane. Due to the size of our boat we were able to get into many areas that other cruise ships simply can’t access. Based on the rules and regulations governing travel in the area, we weren’t able to get in one last kayaking trip, but we did take a nice, long skiff ride around the coves surrounding our boat, which put us up close and personal with many waterfalls. And yes, lots of mist.
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As we were pulling up anchor after lunch to leave our cove for the next destination, someone spotted a bear. Well, someone claimed to have spotted a bear. This created a lot of excitement and skepticism on board, and many people rushed outside with binoculars to catch a glimpse of the elusive beast. I stayed inside where it was nice and warm and toasty. I did, however, wander over to the port side to glance out the large picture windows of the forward lounge. Scanning the horizon, I had almost given up hope when I saw a lot of splashing off in the distance. I pointed it out, but some folks didn’t see what I was seeing. Then we all saw it again. Grabbing binoculars there could be no doubt, this was a brown bear on shore, running through the water to get to a sandbar! I’m told it is very rare to see a brown bear in this location as it is mostly black bear that far south. Fellow passengers better in the know guesstimated his age at about two to three years old. He was quite the charming fellow, hanging out with the birds, just eating his lunch and having a good time himself. As you can imagine, with my p&s I wasn’t able to get as good of pics as I did of our previous bear encounter, but I’m sure some of my fellow passengers with massive lenses have great pictures from our time with the bear.
From there we sailed out to another area with even more spectacular scenery if you can believe it. We also managed to fit in one last hot tub & beer before dinner.
That night we dropped anchor in a cove outside of Ketchikan alongside a sail boat. Around 11:30 p.m. those on the starboard side of the boat were greeted to a small firework display from our neighbors. I found it a fitting send off to what had been a stellar time aboard the Wilderness Discoverer.