Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Exit Glacier & Harding Icefield

Ten miles outside Seward lies the trailhead to the Harding Ice Field and Exit Glacier. We did the 9-mile roundtrip hike up to the Harding Ice Field, which was steep and strenuous, but definitely worth it! The blurb from the website gives the best description of the hike:

"Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather-filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breath-taking view of the Icefield. The top of the trail is a window to past ice ages – a horizon of ice and snow that stretches as far as the eye can see, broken only by an occasional nunatak, or lonely peak."

Harding Icefield is the largest icefield to be contained entirely within the United States. It was really incredible to be up there, and it was a treat to see an ermine and some marmots on the way!

Back at the bottom, another shorter trail leads right up to Exit Glacier and it's possible to hear the ice crackling and see waterfalls streaming off the surface. The sun was shining through the ice, making it glow that beautiful glacial blue. Truly magnificent!

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