The Big Hike

It was raining when we woke up in Seward today, a nice, gentle, Seattle-type rain. Apparently, it rains all of the time on this part of the Kenai Peninsula, and people just go about their plans without paying much heed to the weather. We decided to be intrepid and go ahead with our day’s adventure: hiking up to the Harding Ice Field, and 8.2 mile hike with a 3,500 ft elevation gain.

The hike goes through four regions: woodsy rainforest, arctic meadow, arctic tundra, and snow field/bare rock. This hike is known for having lots of bears in the lower section of the trail, and we were well warned by this sign (if you can’t see it, the text pretty much reads: “if you’re charged by a bear, play dead – unless it tries to eat you, in which case you should fight back.” We laughed a lot at this sign and then spent much of the hike singing, clapping, and chatting to make sure we wouldn’t be eaten.

As it turned out, we didn’t see any bears. Our big wildlife sighting was marmots, including a baby! The hike up was long and steep in places, with snow making the trek more difficult at times.

The view from the top was remarkable: Exit Glacier below, Harding Ice Field stretching out above us, and snow-covered mountains all around. We stayed at the top for a while taking in the view.

We really enjoyed the hike down, especially the first part. We quickly learned that it was more fun to boot-ski down the snowy sections than it was to try to walk them. I also had a great time sliding down sections of the mountain on my derriere. It was some of the best sledding I’ve ever done. All in all, a great hike!

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