Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Alaskan Journal Part 3

A day with the boots on when we hiked the trails around the Exit Glacier, just outside of Seward. The Exit Glacier is one of a few that flow from the Harding Icefield, which is basically a massive block of ice in the middle of the Kenai Peninsula. Our plan was to try and do the 7-8 mile Harding Icefield Trail which would take us up the side of the glacier to a saddle in the mountains from which we could see the icefield at close quarters. In the event, because of the late melt of the snow we could only reach a point about a third of the way up. Beyond that point there was a real danger of avalanches and the Park Rangers were advising people to stop. Despite the truncated route, it was strenuous and we had the excitement (?) of several hundred yards of deep snow traversing. Confession: we were quite pleased with ourselves for having done it. On the way back down we hiked up to the 'mouth' of the glacier, so we saw it from top to bottom. Impressive.
Not something we have to pack with us when we hike in the UK, Bear Spray. Not just an affectation but a real necessity when hiking in bear country, which we were doing. Fortunately we never had to use because, unfortunately, we didn't see any bears. But there are plenty of them around.
Driving up to the trailhead and looking across the washfields coming from the glacier towards its mass in the centre between the two peaks. The Harding Icefield is at the top.
Looking back down the glacial valley with nary a cloud to be seen.
There I was taking a shot of an interesting tree and I was photobombed by a little yellow bird. A Wilson's Warbler, I think, because it's got a black cap. Or, to put it another way, there I was taking a photograph of a Wilson's Warbler and my autofocus got in the way - again.
Mrs P leading the way through the snow as I trudged up behind, not quite so sure-footedly. We reckoned the snow was about 2 foot deep with some deep holes to make traversing more interesting.
Nature's refrigerator.
This is as far as we were able to go before getting into the avalanche zone. I've used this shot as the people add some size perspective. The glacier is running diagonally down from the icefield. It was a dramatic setting and was worth the effort of getting there.
Exit Glacier from the bottom. It is gradually receding and has done since around the mid 1800s. This recession has increased in recent times and is good evidence of climate change.

A few miles south of Seward looking back towards the town. A dramatic setting.

Wildlife is never very far from you in these parts. Here's a sea otter doing some back stroke as, I think, it's eating a shellfish of some sort.
A curious creature, it was having a good gawp at what was going on down the road. It may look like a seal but it's an otter.
And for the birdlovers, a Barrow's Goldeneye. The white facial crescent is the give-away.

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