The Mumms patiently considered their options and did some shopping at NAPA. Joe Stock has a nicely documented discussion of this at We also offer flights to an active volcano with landings at the top and/or the bottom. But it will get harder and harder to reach the glacier from the end of the hiking trail. Beth cooked fresh gingerbread cookies. The pilot thought the peas were a strange request, and bought organic because, “you seemed like that kind of people” (probably not meant as a compliment). There are two primary glacierized areas in KEFJ (the Harding Icefield and the Grewingk-Yalik Glacier Complex) and three primary glacierized areas in KATM (the Mt. Credit: Link Copied to Clipboard. The Outlet Glacier ­ Alaska ​­  ​Exit Glacier is a glacier derived from the Harding Icefield in the Kenai Mountains of Alaska and one of Kenai Fjords National Park's major attractions. We started with turns down good corn snow, then glided for miles on the just-steep-enough glacier. This is an important part of the process that ( Log Out /  Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA). The park contains the Harding Icefield, one of the largest ice fields in the United States. The Kenai Fjords region was designated Study Area 11. Our warm winter is very likely a necessary ingredient for such an unusual winter retreat, but I think there’s a fair dose of coincidence – the ice was declining in stability all summer and it happened to cross a threshold in the fall when it separated from a bit of north shore where it was pressed against cliffs. before a trip up there. [40], According to the Köppen climate classification system, Kenai Fjords National Park has a Subarctic climate (Dfc) with cool summers and year around precipitation. [14], The earliest proposals for a national park at the Kenai Fjords was raised in the 1970s. [38] More than thirty glaciers originate in the icefield, which first formed about 23,000 years ago. We could not. An ice field (also spelled icefield) is a large area of interconnected glaciers, usually found in a mountainous region. [13] Follow-up action by Hartzog brought the Park Service into discussions over the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). Josh and Mike went to a gas station to fill jugs, and when Josh poured gas in the tank it ran right through to the ground. In particular, Sitka alder is capable of fixing nitrogen, supporting itself and enriching the soil. Harding Icefield, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. In both cases, I was very impressed with the destination, and left with an, “Oh, right, that’s why this is a major destination.” It is the fifth most-visited park in Alaska, but the 11th of 13 Alaska parks in area, and is the closest national park to Anchorage. The first plants to appear in recently glaciated areas are lichens and mosses, with a few hardy plants such as dwarf fireweed and yellow dryas. Secretary of the Interior Cecil D. Andrus proposed a 410,000-acre (640.6 sq mi; 1,659.2 km2) Kenai Fjords National Park. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! It’s also beautiful, with a … ( Log Out /  Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. 2. It was a warm, sunny July day when my wife and I hiked the Harding Icefield trail. New lands exposed in former glacier beds are at first stony, lacking in soil. Storm systems today continue to feed 600-800 inches of snow each winter to the icefield. They are often found in the colder climates and higher altitudes of the world where there is sufficient precipitation for them to form. Although the proposal had support in Congress and from the US Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management, it was overcome by difficulties with native land claims. Spend 30 minutes or 1 hour touring Kachemak Bay and the Harding Icefield. The most significant fjords include Aialik Bay, Harris Bay, McCarty Fjord and Nuka Bay. In this case, focussing on the kite, I trusted my skis to do the right thing on their own. I climbed an apron of ice-cored moraine to determine if we could sneak along talus at the lake’s edge. The Harding Ice Field is one of only 4 remaining ice fields in the country, and is also the largest ice field contained entirely within the United States’ borders. [65][66], Harsh conditions at higher altitudes limit tree growth above the tree line, creating an alpine ecosystem. Skiing down the Grewingk was Sarah’s favorite part of the trip. I think we took a week for it and didn’t use any weather days. Pretty crazy. 11 Underrated and Unique Vacation Ideas in the U.S. 4 Holistic Healing Therapies That Will Heal Your Soul What Is an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Is It Right for Me? You can see the enormous Harding Icefield here, as well as many spectacular icebergs that carved out wondrous fjords. Each time had progressively stronger wind, perfect for learning. The park also features a significant marine environment. Martin area). The glacier has not receded from the lake and I think it will remain fairly easy to access from the lake. With Josh’s guidance, all four of us were able to fly right away. Length: 8-mile loop. The Harding Icefield has never been high on my wish list, mostly because I think it gets a lot of traffic and I’d rather explore more remote areas. The right thing to do is have a ton of crevasse experience already. Josh ended up threading a bolt into the drilled hole, with a plastic casing on the bolt that worked as a temporary gasket. The park lies just to the west of Seward, a cruise ship port. [41], Kenai Fjords National Park is dominated by a glaciated landscape. Sounds like this has happened several times at Seward trail heads. A unique aspect of this route is that you do most of the climbing in the first four hours, and then mostly cruise on flats. The 8.2-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail in Alaska’s Kenai Fjords National Park is steep: you’ll gain roughly 1,000 feet per mile on the way up, working through healthy forests before eventually giving you an amazing view of the icefield. Josh’s truck started up, then died. The most accessible glacier, and the only portion of the park accessible by road, is Exit Glacier. ( Log Out /  The tours provide views of land and marine wildlife, particularly Steller sea lions, puffins, Dall's porpoises, American black bear, snowshoe hares, Mountain goats, and humpback and orca whales, as well as natural sights such as the fjords and tidewater glaciers. The crown jewel of this Alaskan park is the 735-square-mile Harding Icefield. That year Exxon settled with the federal and Alaskan governments, paying about $870 million into a restoration fund, some of which was earmarked for Kenai Fjords. Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. Eyal. 30,295 acres (47.3 sq mi; 122.6 km2) were repurchased by the Park Service in the 1990s, retaining subsistence rights on about 9,000 acres (14.1 sq mi; 36.4 km2). That’s a tough question to answer, it depends on the group and time of year. The second half of this retreat happened in the past month, sometime around the middle of March, when the lake was still thoroughly frozen. When the resupply arrived, Caroline and Pat found an unexpected 2 pounds of organic peas. Negotiations between the Park Service, Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife Service and the Chugach Alaska Corporation resulted in a decision by the Department of the Interior to make the Park Service the lead agency for the Kenai Fjords area. The alpine regions support shrubby grown to alders, devil's club, elderberry, lady fern, cow parsnip and other plants. So for future reference I would suggest counting on such an exit, or hauling a packraft over the icefield. Find high quality stock photos of alaska, people, cultures and places from around the world from popular tourist destinations to remote regions. [35], Kenai Fjords is extensively glaciated, with 51% of the park covered by ice. We were able to use the kites three times. Mike Mumm drove with us to Seward to recover our two vehicles. Much of the interior is covered by the Harding Icefield. I hiked it twice, the first time in June when there was too much snow left to make it all the way to the ice field. Caroline is currently promoting her new book, The Sun is a Compass. Visiting these glaciers in the Gulf of Alaska is hard in the winter, as weather can be extreme in the ocean. There are 32 breathtaking glaciers that emerge from the Harding Ice Field. Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. [30], The park has established a cooperative relationship with the Alaska SeaLife Center, exchanging interpretive services. The first season's work stopped in September. by Nathanael | Alaska, Destinations. We arrived at the toe of the glacier to find several hundred meters of bedrock slabs between us and the trail. Sarah and I borrowed clothes from Josh Mumm and shoes from Mike Mumm. The park's glaciers have retreated through the twentieth century, exposing new lands to colonization by plant and animal life. [5] It is a relatively small and accessible park by Alaskan national park standards, about 88% as big as Yosemite National Park. We were wondering how long it would take for the ice to retreat beyond where we were able to scramble out… it didn’t take long! [25] Most of the lands claimed were on the coastline. It is only one of three national parks in Alaska that can be reached by road, via the Exit Glacier Nature Center. Passenger traffic through Seward is projected at 68,000 for 2013. Most glaciers in these parks terminate on land, though a few terminate in lakes. ... Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a spectacular forty square mile, 100 to 700 foot deep ash flow deposited by Novarupta Volcano in 1912. Or, you could hire a guide for the trip. [12] Another study, funded as part of the Alaska Highway in the 1940s drew similar conclusions to the first study's majority opinion. Sounds scary? [57], Birds that nest in this park include bald eagle,[58] the Peale's subspecies of peregrine falcon,[59] black-billed magpie,[60] and Steller's jay. Hey Luc was this trip in April 2019? Receive emails with updates & training opportunities, Packraft-specific courses via the Swiftwater Safety Institute. Thanks for the update. The AMS glacier travel courses are a good way to learn as well. [22] In 1982, a general management plan for the park was finalized, designating Exit Glacier as "front-country," the fjords as "back-country," and the icefield as wilderness. We considered skiing back up the glacier so that we could take a known ridge exit, but it would make for a long day ( 20-miles?) [37] The erosive power of the glaciers produces sediment as rock flour coloring the waters around the toes of glaciers, carrying minerals into the ecosystem that support phytoplankton, which in turn sustain larger animals. [64], The plant communities at Kenai Fjords are shaped by glacial retreat. [46][47] Smaller mammals include coyote, beaver and river otter. In time, about 20 miles (32 km) of coastline was oiled, amounting to about 4% of the total coastline. The kites were SO MUCH FUN! We weren’t able to cover much ground with the kits, but were able drop the packs and play. However, the Harding is pretty benign in terms of crevasse hazards. Only problem is I’ll be tempted to leave it patched [rather than do a permanent repair.]”. The route was excellent, and it was a huge relief not to have to add a 20-mile day. The Kenai Fjords area was not considered to be of the first priority for park designation under the ANCSA. They built row boats for the Bellingham to Haines section of their trip to Kotzebue. Wasn't planning on anything special, just decided to cruise around. Sarah and I spent the night in Homer, eating well and visiting friends. This proposal allowed logging and mining in the area. Douglas area, the Kukak Volcano to Mt. [27] Cruise tours originating from Seward provide access to the park via Resurrection Bay. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your account. I felt the same way about Denali. [33][34], The park's landscape has been shaped by plate tectonics, with the Pacific Plate subducting beneath the North American Plate. We tried climbing out to Emerald Lake but realized at some point that it would involve a bushwhack from hell, and ended up getting a helicopter to fly us out of the toe of the glacier. [9] Archeological surveys have altered the early view that the area was subject to only transient occupation as evidence has accumulated of long-term use. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the Plant Hardiness zone at Exit Glacier Visitor Center at 463 ft (141 m) elevation is 4b with an average annual extreme minimum temperature of -20.3 °F (-29.1 °C). Apr 13, 2018 - Nearly 51 percent of the park is covered in ice, but there's still plenty to see and do within Kenai Fjords. The park is inhabited by a variety of terrestrial and marine mammals, including brown and black bears, moose, sea otters, harbor seals, humpback and killer whales. The park includes the region's deeply indented glaciated coastline and its interior icefields. Eleven mine sites have been documented and two of the mine sites have been determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. [31], The park lies on the southeastern side of the Kenai Peninsula, about 130 miles (210 km) south of Anchorage. Josh reported from home the next day, “Dry as a bone. A 2003 follow-up survey indicated that one site was occupied between 950 AD and 1800. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. We set up camp on a flat slab of ice at the water’s edge. Bus tours from Seward visit Exit Glacier and boat tours visit other parts of the park[29], The park maintains public-use cabins and shelters in coastal areas and at the edge of the Harding Icefield. [8], At the time of the park's establishment, there were few permanent inhabitants. Photo about View of Exit Glacier, Harding Icefiel Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward, Alaska, United States. Herbaceous plants can grow in areas with better soils, supporting grasses, Nootka lupine, fireweed and other perennial plants. We were self conscious about our stinky feet, so Eric set us up with a hose and soap. In 1964 George B. Hartzog Jr., director of the National Park Service, initiated a new study entitled Operation Great Land, advocating the development and promotion of the existing Alaska parks. The first study, entitled Alaska - Its Resources and Development was centered on the development of tourism, despite a dissent from co-author Bob Marshall, who advocated strict preservation. Dwarf plants in this region include bog blueberry, partridgefoot, black crowberry and Aleutian mountainheath, all of which are vulnerable to damage from foot traffic. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Publisher for the University of Washington Member of the Association of University Presses [11], Early studies of possible new Park Service units in Alaska took place in the 1930s and 1940s. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. Douglas area. I felt the same way about Denali. Some sites had been active into the 1980s. And of course, on this Alaskan “major destination,” we didn’t see anyone else, just some snow buntings, a wolverine, and a handful of sheep. It is believed that coastal subsidence and rising water levels have inundated many sites, as the shoreline was the place richest in resources for early peoples. Look no further than the Harding Icefield Trail, an eight-mile roundtrip hike where you'll gain thousands of feet in elevation through forests, alpine meadows, and a seriously impressive icefield. During the Pleistocene Epoch, 23,000 years ago,the Harding Icefield was a small piece of the vast ice sheet that covered much of south-central Alaska.The Harding Icefield is a remnant of the last ice age. Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email. The Harding Icefield has never been high on my wish list, mostly because I think it gets a lot of traffic and I’d rather explore more remote areas. The park contains the Harding Icefield, one of the largest ice fields in the United States. Caroline and Pat are probably my favorite adventurers. This altered the original intent of the park to include subsistence claims, previously unrecognized. Bay Ski Alaska Mt. The mystery was resolved when Caroline and Pat noticed that 2 pounds of cheese didn’t make it into the box. See Homer and multiple glaciers, as well as getting a look at some remote Alaskan communities. Nearly 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, Kenai Fjords' crowning feature. A network of trails from the Nature Center provide access to the glacier, and the 7.4-mile (11.9 km) Harding Icefield Trail. Willows and alders are followed by black cottonwoods, then Sitka spruce. On top of the jaw-dropping, icy panoramic views at the end, you might also get a peek at a bear or two (so be extremely prepared). [6] It is the only Alaska national park that did not originally allow subsistence use by Native Americans, but native village corporations continue to have interests in inholdings within the park,[7] and have since established subsistence rights on those properties. The Harding Icefield is an expansive icefield located in the Kenai Mountains of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. How many days did it take you including weather days? Marine mammals include sea otter,[48] harbor seal[49] and Steller sea lion. Flow is a state where a high skill level is used in a high challenge activity. Sarah and I were joined by Caroline and Pat, who had set the week aside months in advance, thanks to Caroline’s mom watching their two kids. The first oil arrived on April 10.