RAINIER / OLYMPIC / ALASKA
Following our close encounters with humpback whales in Antarctica we knew it was only a matter of time before we needed another cetacean fix, and help was at hand from all-round whale genius and brilliant photographer Mark Carwardine, who was organising a small boat trip to Alaska specifically looking for bubble net feeding humpbacks. As we thought this might be a bit limited photographically and because we had holiday time in hand we also spent some time around Mount Rainier and Olympic National Parks, which turned out to be a great decision as the alpine meadows were in full flower and were truly magnificent.
The weather around the Olympic Peninsula was tough, especially along the coast which was constantly hugged by a thick fog, whereas ironically we often had bright sunlight in the forests, which made it all rather challenging. The coastal forests are majestic and I'm sure we'll return some day.
And so it was on with the main event.... a flight from Seattle to Sitka where we joined our floating home for the next 10 days, Snow Goose. We had expected quite a basic experience onboard, however this proved to be far from the case with outstanding cooking from a brilliant chef - the pork belly will remain in the memory for a very long time. Cabin space was tight but the general living areas were spacious. We were made incredibly welcome by the Captain and crew who were determined to show us the best of a place that they were all truly in love with. Days were mostly spent on deck with the most fanatical but also most engaging travel companions we've ever had on a group trip. And then there were whales !
Of course our goal had been to see bubble net feeding and we struck lucky near the small settlement at Kake, where we repeatedly met a group who were collectively fishing in this way.
All in all a wonderful trip, and we could easily see ourselves returning in the future, although our travelling companions have already convinced us that Baja California needs to be on our list too.