Sunday, July 8, 2012

July 8 – To Seward and Exit Glacier

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There is no WIFI at our campground so I am sitting at a Starbucks in a Safeway store to post this.

Yesterday we did the short drive to Seward on Prince William Sound.

Seward is arranged as a long strip along the shoreline. As you come into town you first hit the tourist area with the cruise line docks, the gift shops and the small boat harbour. Next are the campgrounds run by the city and then finally you get to the real city where people actually live.

They can park a lot of RVs here. The section we are in has 100 sites and is only one of many. Ours is arranged as 4 rows, each one a bit higher than the previous so everyone gets at least a bit of a view. It still being the weekend after July 4, even when we got here early, all the waterfront one were taken. Maybe we can get one later. Since our RV is so tall we still have a pretty good view out the window. Everything is very full tonight.


After we set up we walked back to the tourist area to check things out. Nothing much different than any other town.



The weather forecast for today was not great but when we got up it looked mostly sunny to the north and pretty dreary to the south. We had some indoor things and some outdoor things we could do but we took a chance on the outdoors. It worked out quite well. We only got a few light rain showers.

Just next to Seward and covering a large part of this section of the Kenai Peninsula is the massive Harding Ice Field. It has many glaciers than that are fed by it but the one closest to Seward is called Exit Glacier, supposedly because the first group exploring the ice field made their exit down that way.

It’s only about a 10 minute drive and this was our first view from the road. Warning, there are going to be a lot of glacier pictures today.

The area is part of Kenai Fiords National Park and they have trails that go right up to the foot of the glacier. It’s only about a mile from the parking lot to the end and the trail is pretty easy so it was also busier than we are used to, meaning there were actually other people here.

It is hard to get a sense of scale until you see the people in the middle of the picture below.


We even got some sunny moments which enhanced the deep blue in the crevices but it doesn’t seem to show in the pictures very well.

Walking back, looking out over the glacial outwash we saw this strange white spot on the shore, dead center below.


Kind of a different place for wedding pictures.

There is another trail here called the Harding Ice Fields Trail. It goes to the top of the glacier and has spectacular view of the ice field BUT it is 8 miles return, climbs over 3000 feet and takes fit people 6 to 8 hours. There is a good viewpoint of the glacier called Marmot Meadows after about 1 1/4 miles and 1200 feet up and takes people 3 to 4 hours, meaning it will take us about 5 hours. Off we went.


It was steep climb. In a lot of places they had placed stones to make very steep sets of stairs.


At one point we had to cross a stream on these somewhat slippery boards.




We were faltering a bit and had not seen anyone in quite some time. Then we started seeing people coming down that had started in the morning and had gone right to the top. They said the spot we wanted to reach was only about another 25 minutes so we persevered. It was definitely worth it.


We can finally see our destination, with the people on it below.


You can see the line above Jennie where the glacier started to break off from the ice field.

Below us we could see some insects out on the glacier.


Only guided tours are allowed out there.

Lots of interesting shapes and colours to stare at, for a long time, while we recovered.



We even got some patches of blue sky. When the sun wasn’t out it was pretty windy and cold up there.


Going down is certainly a lot easier than up. It seemed very short. I think we started up about 12:30 and got back down at 5 so not too bad.


One more look from below and we headed home, not completely wiped out but pretty tired.

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