Friday, August 21, 2009

Harding Icefield Trail at Exit Glacier

DZ returns to Beijing today. It's hard to believe it's a month already. He's been such a pleasure to have around. He's smart, funny, never complained, always polite, willing to go along to anything and meet anyone. He's also shown me parts of Anchorage I've never tried - like the drive thru window at McDonalds. I have to say it sure is efficient and easy and the people are invariably nice.

So it's been hard keeping up with the blog. [I did add an interesting link at the end of the post on Scalia from the other day.] So here's another one mainly of pictures. This continues Monday's adventures. After the kayaking, we had lunch then went to Exit Glacier where we climbed the trail to the Harding Icefield overlook.

I know this isn't a great picture, but I saved it big and if you double click, you can see the trail, mileage, etc. I wish I'd taken the picture of the map before we started the hike. It did seem to go on and on. It's 3.9 miles up. A gain of nearly 3000 feet. But the view on top on a good day is worth it. And you get great views at 2.3 miles too.

The trail is different even from last year. Stretches that used to be mud have been replaced by what seems to be new routes with new, easier trail. Other parts just have a lot more rock steps on the same basic trail. But the rocky area with lots of marmots - I'm not sure the trail still goes that way. (We did see one marmot). Does this map reflect the improvements? I'm not sure. And there is much less snow and ice than in past years. So that's a bit disorienting too.

Here's another example of trail improvement. A lot of this was in last year. It looks natural enough and it helps prevent muddy erosion which causes hikers to make new trails to avoid the mud. This is a National Park and I believe a lot of this trail work was done by volunteers. In contrast, the Reed Lakes Trail, on State land in Hatcher Pass, is a growing disaster and the steep muddy trails eat up more and more of the vegetation each year.
Here's DZ at the point where we stopped last year. Mile 2.3.

The mountain gentian were blooming exquisitely in one short part of the hike. This one is worth enlarging for flower fans. The color and delicacy of this plant high up in really difficult conditions is amazing.

Almost at the end of the trail.

DZ said, "If there was a rainbow, it would be perfect."
Twenty minutes later it was perfect.

Finally at a point high enough to see over the top of the Harding Icefield. It goes on for 30 miles and you can see the other end from Homer.

On the way back down.

Driving home near Summit Lake. It's going on 10pm here.

After last week's ADN map of all the traffic fatalities on the Seward Highway between Anchorage and Girdwood you'd think people would start to drive better. This truck without a load passed at a reasonably safe place, but it must have been going 80 mph. Another black SUV passed us going what seemed even faster. About twenty miles later it was parked in front of flashing red and blue lights. I admit, I took pleasure in the fact that I was going to get home before he did.

About 10:30 pm. Almost home.


Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.