August 14: breathtaking views of Harding Icefield and Exit Glacier

IMG_0771We left Girdwood for Seward in the late morning only to get stuck on the highway for half an hour. A truck had rear-ended an SUV. The road was blocked both ways for the emergency teams to clear up the accident site.

IMG_0768This bald eagle was watching us. Harry ignored him and focused on the ground squirrels instead.

IMG_0782Unfortunately he wasn’t allowed to join me on the trail, so I set out alone. This picture shows Exit Glacier; it was taken by a retired Air Force officer with whom I walked and chatted for about half an hour.

IMG_0803Flightseeing planes occasionally darted by as we were hiking the 4.2m (6,7km) trail.

IMG_0802I reached the top after three hours; this time around I had prepared well and brought a lighter as well as enough water and food. The views were absolutely stunning.

IMG_0809Exit Glacier from atop. Note the collection of items on my Argentinean gaucho belt, from left to right: camera pouch, bear spray (everyone I saw carried a can), small knife, satellite navigator, and binoculars… There was a sign at the beginning of the trail that read: “If a grizzly attacks you, don’t run. Curl up and play dead. If it starts eating you, fight back vigorously.” Lovely.

IMG_0794Exit glacier without the hiker.

IMG_0788Breathtaking Harding Icefield. Note the two tiny dots below the mountain massif to the right: two folks hiking the icefield. Not sure whether they were park rangers or just plain nuts.

IMG_0815This marmot greeted me as I was on my way back to the parking lot. I also ran into the Italian couple whom I gave a ride to the airport in Fairbanks and saw Michael from Poland and his partner from Kazakhstan again — they had stayed on the same campground as Olivier and the two of us. Alaska is ‘smaller’ than one might think.

IMG_0816A final view of Exit Glacier in the evening sun.

Aug 14We stayed in Seward for the night, a seaside town filled with hundreds of avid fishers competing for the Seward Derby. The goal is to catch the largest silver (Coho) salmon during a time window of eight days. The grand prizes include $50,000 in cash as well as several cars. My neighbor on the campground even promised to cook his first catch for me! Harry and I will stay here for another night since it’s been raining the entire day, and I don’t mind a little rest after yesterday’s six-hour hike.

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