In the true spirit of the season (the season being August, otherwise known as Adventure Time), Nic and I decided to spend his last Sunday in Alaska hiking Exit Glacier. Or rather, hiking alongside it to the Harding Icefield, the largest icefield in the United States. Born and raised in Alaska, it astounds me that I had never done this hike before. People frequently mention the Exit Glacier hike, but for some reason I always figured it was just something for tourists to do when they visited Seward and didn’t feel like bothering with Mt. Marathon. WRONG. It was, to say the least, absolutely stunning.
We started the drive down Turnagain Arm in the late morning, which to our utter amazement was full of a giant pod of beluga whales! We got out of the car and watched them for a while, reminiscing about seeing them as children, before continuing to the Exit Glacier trailhead in Seward.
Starting the hike.
WHOA! After about an hour, we were hiking right alongside this masterpiece of ice and crevasses, through fields of blooming wildflowers and bushes of ripening salmonberries. The trail was steep and a little over four miles to the top, but we were full of energy and passed literally every other hiker we came across.
Nearing our destination.
And suddenly, voilá. There was the magnificent Harding Icefield, stretched before us in all its glory. Despite being surrounded by snow and ice, it was hot in the sun. We proceeded to have a picnic, sunbathe on the warm rocks, and take a nap in the panoramic splendor of it all.
Naturally, no hike would be complete without a little off-trail exploration. We scrambled over to a face of glacier that was melting rapidly in the sun, water pouring down it in interlacing streams and raging rivers, and proceeded to have as much childish fun as possible – throwing rocks, jumping over crevasses, sledding on trash bags and stuff.
As the day progressed, we realized the only thing we could think about anymore was an alluring slice of Girdwood’s Coast Pizza, and decided to head down the mountain. As walls of fog rolled in, we encountered a small herd of mountain goats grazing on wildflowers right off-trail!
Epic hike accomplished, Nic moved back to Canada, and I went back to working at a dentist office. Luckily, Zach is flying in tonight, so the adventure isn’t over yet. Next on the list: camping in the Middle of Nowhere, followed by trekking the legendary Bomber Traverse. It only gets better from here.