These photos were actually taken on two different days. The first day we only explored the lower part of the Exit Glacier.
It received its name because it served as the exit for the first recorded crossing of the Harding Icefield in 1968.
|Glacier was here in 2005|
There are a number of hiking trails that start at the Visitor Center. Most people do the short hikes to where you can see the glacier up close and see how far it has retreated. It's easily accessible by most anyone.
Sometimes it's possible to walk right up to the glacier. We were not able to get to it because the runoff was too high to cross. We weren't about to wade across knee deep freezing water that was rushing around the rocks.
|Glacier Melt Runoff|
Glacial ice is a different color from regular ice. It is so blue because the ice is very dense from years of being compressed by the weight of snow and ice. The dense ice of the glacier absorbs every other color of the spectrum except blue - so blue is what we see!
The next day we went back to try the Harding Icefields Hike. When we got to the Visitors Center it was cold! The wind was blowing across the icefield and down the glacier right into the parking lot. Knowing we were going to climb several thousand feet and we expected to be in extreme cold conditions. We bundled up and headed up the trail.
At one point we had a pretty good view of the Exit Glacier from the side. We could see a guided group walking on the glacier. It looked like fun and maybe we'll do that next time.
You can't get an appreciation of the size of the glacier in the photo above. Can you find the people in the photo below? They are there.
|Billy or Nanny?|
|A Little Head Butting|
When we reached the icefield the views were spectacular! Ice as far as you can see with the tops of mountains peaking out of the ice.
|Standing Against The Wind|
The terrain in this area looked like Mordor in the Lord of The Rings. Nothing grows up here except some mosses in the rocks. The ground is covered with glacial moraine and snow. Moraines are accumulations of dirt and rocks that have fallen onto the glacier surface or have been pushed along by the glacier as it moves. At one time all this land was covered by glaciers and this moraine was left by the glaciers as they retreated.
It was time to head back down the mountain. Here's our view as we started back. Can you see the hiker on the trail?
|The Long Trail Back|
The park was closing at midnight and everyone, including back country campers, had to be out. Recall what happened in Alaska on September 1? President Obama visited the park and hiked up to the Exit Glacier overlook the next day. We noticed there were porta-potties near the trail head that weren't there earlier in the day. I guess those were for the Secret Service Agents that had to stay out there all night.
This hike was one of the highlights of our trip. I can recommend it for anyone who is fit enough to do the strenuous hike. Plan to spend a day. It will take 6 - 8 hours.