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. 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. We had excellent travel conditions, but still managed to complain about not having enough wind to use our kites. Only problem is I’ll be tempted to leave it patched [rather than do a permanent repair.]”. , Large terrestrial mammal species in the park include timber wolf, porcupine, Canadian lynx, brown bear, black bears, moose and mountain goat. About 8 miles round trip, the trail gains a lot of elevation, and is described as strenuous. , The plant communities at Kenai Fjords are shaped by glacial retreat. Even so, I have friends that stayed roped up the entire time. I would reach out to Hig for more information, he is closely monitoring the glacier. Marine mammals include sea otter, harbor seal and Steller sea lion. Harding Icefield Trail.  The motion of the North Pacific Plate has accreted a variety of terranes against the shoreline, so that the coastal region is a mixture of rocks that originated elsewhere, together with local igneous rock. The terrain remained interesting throughout the route. Wasn't planning on anything special, just decided to cruise around. Bay Ski Alaska Mt. 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. In the morning, we scouted our options. 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). 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 grounding of the oil tanker Exxon Valdez in Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, produced extensive contamination of the Kenai Fjords coastline. Katmai area and the Mt.  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. , Harsh conditions at higher altitudes limit tree growth above the tree line, creating an alpine ecosystem. It shouldn’t be, the volcano has been slumbering for as long as anyone can remember. The nearest large town is Seward, immediately to the east of the park on Resurrection Bay. Photo about View of Exit Glacier, Harding Icefiel Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward, Alaska, United States. Exit Glacier is a popular destination at the end of the park's only road. This is a raw, ragged land that has not yet recovered from the great Pleistocene ice sheets that flowed over … Icefield coverage has declined, with a 3% reduction in coverage over a 16-year study period. This proposal allowed logging and mining in the area. Pat and Josh scrambled above camp to a series of ledges separating bedrock slabs. They found a route through the slabs and set a fixed-line for one steep scramble connecting ledges. Katmai area, and the Mt. Passenger traffic through Seward is projected at 68,000 for 2013. Another site was used from 1785 to 1820. Willows and alders are followed by black cottonwoods, then Sitka spruce. If you visit in person in the future, you can trek from Exit Glacier to Harding Icefield and watch for some incredible wildlife like bald eagles and whales. Harding Icefield is the star of this natural attraction, which features a number of tidewater glaciers (such as the half-mile-wide Exit Glacier), calming fjords, and small icebergs. Higher alpine regions support a dwarf shrub community less than 1 foot (30 cm) high, at a very slow rate of growth. So for future reference I would suggest counting on such an exit, or hauling a packraft over the icefield. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Eventually we ran out of snow and worked our way left to hike down the ice. Caroline and Pat are probably my favorite adventurers.  Predominant rock types include shale and graywacke, with greenstone, tuff and chert. The glacier has not receded from the lake and I think it will remain fairly easy to access from the lake. 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).  Cetaceans seen in park waters include orca, fin whale, humpback whale, minke whales, Dall's porpoise and Pacific white-sided dolphin. The mature forest features Sitka spruce and mountain hemlocks, with an understory of devil's club, Alaska blueberry, elderberry, baneberry, watermelon berry and lady fern in the coniferous forest understory. We were able to use the kites three times. , At the time of the park's establishment, there were few permanent inhabitants. Pretty crazy. , Legislation stalled in Congress during the Watergate scandal, and was not pursued again until the Carter administration. , According to the Köppen climate classification system, Kenai Fjords National Park has a Subarctic climate (Dfc) with cool summers and year around precipitation. The floors of the fjords can be from 600 to 1,000 feet (180 to 300 m) below the present sea level. , The earliest proposals for a national park at the Kenai Fjords was raised in the 1970s. There are 32 breathtaking glaciers that emerge from the Harding Ice Field. Sounds like this has happened several times at Seward trail heads. , Seward is a departure point and destination for large cruise ships from Celebrity Cruises, Holland America Line, Royal Caribbean International and others. Wildlife in the park consists of various seabirds (including puffins), bald eagles, peregrine falcons, harbor seals, sea lions, sea otters, whales, porpoises, moose, black bears, brown bears, wolverines, coyotes, mountain goats, and more. The gas tank had been drilled from below while parked at the trailhead. Hike the Harding Icefield Trail, a spectacular route alongside Exit Glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park Discover the charms and shops of Homer, one of Alaska's most beautiful seaside towns Witness jaw-dropping views of Cook Inlet, the volcanoes of the Alaska Range, Grewingk Glacier and Homer Spit  Smaller mammals include coyote, beaver and river otter. On March the 24th 2018 took a little local flight. The park covers an area of 669,984 acres on the Kenai Peninsula in south-central Alaska, near the town of Seward. http://www.groundtruthtrekking.org/grewingk-lake-landslide-tsunami-hazards/, Hey Luc, Visiting these glaciers in the Gulf of Alaska is hard in the winter, as weather can be extreme in the ocean. I loved carving turns on the flat valley floor, using the kite to get air off of little bumps, and learning how to control the kite. The crack-free route was obvious, and bordered by cool cracks and a medial moraine. Looking to do this in April. Length: 8-mile loop. The park's highest point is an unnamed peak of 6,450 feet (1,970 m) in the Kenai Mountains.  Seward is a destination for cruise ships. Watching them troubleshoot, I concluded that their tranquility must partly be due to their experience managing equipment on fishing boats. , Archeological sites were also affected by the oil. 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. More than 38 glaciers and fjords flow out of the massive Harding Icefield; the area is a refuge for orcas, humpbacks, puffins, Dall’s porpoise, Steller sea lion colonies, harbor seals, and bald eagles. 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. The Halemaumau Crater is the center part of the Kilauea Caldera, an active volcano near Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. The wildlife is equally as impressive here, featuring beautiful falcons and black bears. I climbed an apron of ice-cored moraine to determine if we could sneak along talus at the lake’s edge. 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?) ... Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes, a spectacular forty square mile, 100 to 700 foot deep ash flow deposited by Novarupta Volcano in 1912. The part of me that grew up in a village has a ton of respect for that style— the ability to functionally create. Thanks for the update. 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.  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, and have since established subsistence rights on those properties. Fax: (206) 543-3932. , Kenai Fjords is extensively glaciated, with 51% of the park covered by ice. 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. But it will get harder and harder to reach the glacier from the end of the hiking trail. Harding Icefield: Seward to Homer Katmai NP Traverse Haines to Juneau Traverse Chugach Traverse Aniak to Dillingham Fairweather, Yakutat to Haines IRS Volcanoes Traverse Kuskulana Glacier, Mt. Only KEFJ has tidewater glaciers, which terminate in the ocean. as far as glacier travel goes… How much experience should one have while exploring Harding Ice Field? Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Joe Stock has a nicely documented discussion of this at https://www.stockalpine.com/posts/crevasse-rescue-haul-system. Image of road, park, green - 139148369 Wildlife thrives in icy waters and lush forests around this vast expanse of ice. 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. Within the park is the huge Harding Icefield, claiming 300 square miles in its entirety. The fjords are glacial valleys that have been submerged below sea level by a combination of rising sea levels and land subsidence. See Homer and multiple glaciers, as well as getting a look at some remote Alaskan communities. After leaving the Harding Icefield, we continued south on smaller glaciers.  A 1993 Park Service survey documented several village sites dated between 1200 AD and 1920.  Marine birds include tufted and horned puffin, common and thick-billed murre, and marbled murrelets. Seattle, WA 98195 . Thinking I’ll go the pack raft route given recent conditions. Eric and Beth brought us to Homer the next morning and we worked our way back to Anchorage from there. Sounds scary? Beth cooked fresh gingerbread cookies. 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. 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? I claimed we were The Three Mumms; Mike felt left out. Find high quality stock photos of alaska, people, cultures and places from around the world from popular tourist destinations to remote regions. Aerial photographs show that the nunataks in the Harding Icefield have increased in area by an average of 30 percent since 1950. With no fewer than 38 glaciers, it's one of the biggest icefields in the U.S. Image of kenai, cold, serene - 161391253 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. Publisher for the University of Washington Member of the Association of University Presses According to the Park Service, it's 50 miles wide at its largest point (that would take two back-to-back marathons to cross it). A similar succession pattern is seen at the park's nunataks, exposed rock outcroppings in the Harding Icefield. We were a group of five with significant experience and no sleds. The first oil arrived on April 10. It’s also beautiful, with a … KEFJ -the Harding Icefield and the Grewingk-Yalik Glacier Complex, and three primary areas of glaciation in KATM - the Mt. The Harding Icefield receives 60 feet (18 m) of snowfall per year. Receive emails with updates & training opportunities, Packraft-specific courses via the Swiftwater Safety Institute. By early April, Park Service personnel established oil containment boom lines across the mouths of salmon streams and conducted preliminary inventories of plants and animals that might be affected by the oil. These pioneers are followed by other plants as the moss and lichen break rock down into soil. The crown jewel of this Alaskan park is the 735-square-mile Harding Icefield. before a trip up there. I also experimented with focussing on my skis, and trusting the kite, which resulted in accidentally getting airborne twice. Another proposal placed the Aialik Peninsula under US Fish and Wildlife Service jurisdiction. , Bear Glacier Lake in Kenai Fjords National Park, Harding Icefield-Kenai Fjords National Monument, Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, List of birds of Kenai Fjords National Park, List of national parks of the United States, "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011", Full list of all state parks, recreation areas and sites, historic parks and sites, and marine parks, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kenai_Fjords_National_Park&oldid=990313557, Bodies of water of Kenai Peninsula Borough, Alaska, All Wikipedia articles written in American English, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 24 November 2020, at 00:28. Bus tours from Seward visit Exit Glacier and boat tours visit other parts of the park, The park maintains public-use cabins and shelters in coastal areas and at the edge of the Harding Icefield. 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. Flow is a state where a high skill level is used in a high challenge activity. 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. A single ranger was assigned to Seward as a local liaison. The park is named for the numerous fjords carved by glaciers moving … I think we took a week for it and didn’t use any weather days. Hey Luc was this trip in April 2019? Josh reported from home the next day, “Dry as a bone. Douglas area. They are often found in the colder climates and higher altitudes of the world where there is sufficient precipitation for them to form. 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. The field is the source of at least 38 glaciers, the largest of which is Bear Glacier. A 2003 follow-up survey indicated that one site was occupied between 950 AD and 1800. Exit Glacier, and Harding Icefield, are two beautiful and slightly more accessible areas during the winter season inside Kenai Fjords National Park. , Birds that nest in this park include bald eagle, the Peale's subspecies of peregrine falcon, black-billed magpie, and Steller's jay. Headlands were the most affected areas. In both cases, I was very impressed with the destination, and left with an, “Oh, right, that’s why this is a major destination.” (I’ve presented some explanation of this reward vs. challenge space, audio file here). With Josh’s guidance, all four of us were able to fly right away.  Cruise tours originating from Seward provide access to the park via Resurrection Bay. 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.  The first park improvements focused on improving access to Exit Glacier. Truuli Peak is a mountain summit located in the Kenai Mountains, in the U.S. state of Alaska.At 6,612 ft (2,015 m), Truuli Peak is the highest mountain in the Kenai Mountains on the Kenai Peninsula in southern Alaska. We weren’t able to cover much ground with the kits, but were able drop the packs and play. This trail is referred to by rangers as “the best day hike in the National Park Service.” The Harding Icefield Trail begins at the Exit Glacier Nature Center and travels to the edge of the Harding Icefield. , Several gold mines from historical times have been documented in the park. The park's glaciers have retreated through the twentieth century, exposing new lands to colonization by plant and animal life. the Kukak Volcano to Mt. Harding Icefield Trail, Alaska. Harding Icefield is the largest icefield in the United States and is home to a multitude of wild plants and animals including sea otters, sea lions, and whales. We planned to exit on the Grewingk Glacier, which would provide an easy summer trail to access Kachemak Bay and a boat ride to Homer. A third site showed occupancy from 1850 to 1890. MODIS, Sentinel 1&2, Landsat, Google Earth, ESRI, etc. Establishment as a national park followed the passage of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in 1980. The summer trail took us to a cable car river crossing, and, eventually, the beach. However, the Harding is pretty benign in terms of crevasse hazards. The most significant fjords include Aialik Bay, Harris Bay, McCarty Fjord and Nuka Bay. 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 AMS glacier travel courses are a good way to learn as well. Change ). As the surface elevation of the ice field decreases due to climate change, the receding ice exposes bare rock and essentially increases the size of the nunataks, providing new habitat for alpine vegetation. The most accessible glacier, and the only portion of the park accessible by road, is Exit Glacier. Each time had progressively stronger wind, perfect for learning. If weather conditions permit, take a spectacular walk from Exit Glacier to the Harding Icefield for views of deep crevasses and huge seracs. Sarah and I spent the night in Homer, eating well and visiting friends. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. That’s a tough question to answer, it depends on the group and time of year. The park is named for the numerous fjords carved by glaciers moving down the mountains from the ice field. They carried tools into the Yukon Territory and built a canoe to float out. Herbaceous plants can grow in areas with better soils, supporting grasses, Nootka lupine, fireweed and other perennial plants. The activity is immediately rewarding. The route was excellent, and it was a huge relief not to have to add a 20-mile day. From here, the view expands out to the horizon, broken only by a craggy peak sticking out above the snow and ice.  The park's largest glacier is Bear Glacier. As of last September, Josh said that the Grewingk Glacier terminated below the end of a summer hiking trail. Kiting might be one of the fastest ways to reach Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi‘s state of flow. The process has lowered the elevation of the Kenai Mountains, gradually pulling glacial features down into the sea, which is at the same time rising. But Sarah and I looked more like Josh in his clothes, and Mike just looked like Mike. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. The park lies just to the west of Seward, a cruise ship port. Josh’s truck started up, then died. We also offer flights to an active volcano with landings at the top and/or the bottom. Or, you could hire a guide for the trip. Much of the interior is covered by the Harding Icefield. The first season's work stopped in September. After our trip, I saw a post from Hig about the rapid retreat of Grewingk: There has been rapid retreat of Grewingk Glacier this winter – almost half a kilometer. Enter your email address to subscribe and receive notifications of new posts by email. Mount Rainier, Washington’s own active volcano. Yep, April. The Mumms patiently considered their options and did some shopping at NAPA. Here is calorieking‘s nutritional comparison of 2 pounts of peas (left) and cheese (right): We started our trip in Seward, walking and skiing 7 miles of gated road, a few miles on the summer trail, and then weaving through crevasses on the Exit Glacier. Kenai Fjords National Monument was initially designated by President Jimmy Carter on December 1, 1978, using the Antiquities Act, pending final legislation to resolve the allotment of public lands in Alaska. We arrived at the toe of the glacier to find several hundred meters of bedrock slabs between us and the trail. I felt the same way about Denali. In 1973 the Nixon administration proposed the Harding Icefield–Kenai Fjords National Monument as part of the ANILCA legislation. We could not. Goode, Marcus Baker Tsina Glacier, Valdez How many days did it take you including weather days? 2. .  No visitor facilities or full-time local management structure resulted from the monument's proclamation. We set up camp on a flat slab of ice at the water’s edge. Thanks for this post! When the resupply arrived, Caroline and Pat found an unexpected 2 pounds of organic peas. Harding Icefield, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. , On December 2, 1980, the ANILCA bill was signed into law by Jimmy Carter, converting Kenai Fjords to a national park. It was a great traverse! Some sites had been active into the 1980s. Known for: An active, and yet slumbering volcano. Forested portions of the park are dominated by conifers, with deciduous forests confined to areas recently vacated by glaciers. Spend 30 minutes or 1 hour touring Kachemak Bay and the Harding Icefield. UW Mailbox 359570. , The park lies on the southeastern side of the Kenai Peninsula, about 130 miles (210 km) south of Anchorage. The book is about their incredible 4,000 mile journey from Bellingham to Kotzebue. Secretary of the Interior Cecil D. Andrus proposed a 410,000-acre (640.6 sq mi; 1,659.2 km2) Kenai Fjords National Park. (minimum 2 passengers) 30 minute tour: $175 per person 1 hour tour: $275 per person Douglas area, the Kukak Volcano to Mt. At the edge of the Kenai Peninsula lies a land where the ice age lingers. In time, about 20 miles (32 km) of coastline was oiled, amounting to about 4% of the total coastline. In 1971 the Seward National Recreation Area was proposed for the area between the head of Resurrection Bay and Turnagain Arm, extending east to Whittier and west to Exit Glacier. 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.
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