Alaska - Day 3: Hiking Exit Glacier Up To The Harding Icefield

Seward Travel Blog

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Kena, me and Aaron on our way up the 8 mile RT hike of Exit Glacier.

Day 3, 7-23-07:  “If the bear begins to feed on you….”


            That morning, I was very glad I had drunk water before going to sleep the night before.  Even still, I was a little dehydrated.  But it wasn’t going to stop me from hiking up a glacier! 

            We all took showers and said goodbye to Moby Dick and made our way to the Safeway grocery store down the street.  Kena was kind enough to buy us hard-boiled eggs and sushi for breakfast.  Lots of protein!

            The hike up to the top of Exit Glacier is 7.

7 miles round-trip, with a change in elevation of about 3000 feet.  At the top you get to see the Harding Icefield; a huge expanse of ice as far as the eye can see.  At over 300 sq. miles, it is the largest icefield remaining in North America.  Unfortunately for us, it was a cloudy day and we weren’t expecting to see very far into the icefield.

            As we geared up at the Visitor Center, we joked about being eaten by grizzlies.  Aaron saw some wordage inside the Visitor Center that stated “If the bear begins to feed on you, fight back vigorously.”  We repeated this phrase many times during the hike, with emphasis on the word “feed”.  It caused many laughs to break out.  But, in all seriousness, there is no way any of us wanted to be fed upon by a bear.

            The views of the glacier were breathtakingly blue as we hiked up the side of the mountain.

  The flowers and lush vegetation gave good contrast, and the marmots kept popping up along the trail for photo-shoots. 

It rained off and on but we were prepared with our ponchos.  As we neared the top the temperature dropped by about 10 degrees, and snow was still abundant up there.  I let Kena use my gloves, and Aaron had the blue ski mask.  I was fine in shorts for some reason. 

As we were nearing the end of the trail it looked like we were in some Arctic wasteland with the mountains rising high to our right and the glacier opening up onto the Harding Icefield on our left.  We couldn’t see very much of the Icefield due to the weather, but just being up there was exhilarating. 

At the end of the trail was a little shelter with lots of graffiti on the inside.

  We ate inside and rested a bit and then quickly descended the glacier. 

We were famished when we got to the bottom.  The hike took us about 5 hours.  We headed to Safeway, bought lots of food and were wondering where to spend the night when we bumped into Kelly from the previous night.  She was with her boyfriend, Elliot, and they knew of a guy named Randy who was squatting at a house in Seward.  They were kind enough to call him and he said he’d have no problem with us staying there. 

We dropped Kena off at Moby Dick’s and we drove down the street (Seward is a small town) to Randy’s. 

Aaron slept on the floor, and I got a mattress since he had slept in the bed and I on the couch in Anchorage at Meghan and Travis’s place.

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Kena, me and Aaron on our way up t…
Kena, me and Aaron on our way up …
photo by: shadowflower