Alaska | Exit Glacier

If you notice that one of my arms looks like a Popeye arm, it’s because I woke up the next morning with a puffy left arm. At first I thought a spider had bitten me, fitting since we were in an old creepy creaky hotel. My best guess was that I was stung by a bee/wasp sometime during our canoe adventure the previous day, although the odd thing was it went unnoticed until the following morning. I looked like one of those crabs that has one arm larger than the other. Annoying.

The weather wasn’t so kind to us in Seward – a combination of windy and rainy and of course, cold. We decided not to go on another cruise (one of the main reasons people come to Seward), and instead filled up on our hotel’s free brekkie and headed off to Exit Glacier.van gilderexit glacier

The thing that’s cool about Exit Glacier is that you can get really close to the glacier without much effort or cost. We blew through the trail in about 20 minutes or so (in rainboots too!) – for the most part, a pretty easy hike, with the last part of the climb being the only real difficulty.

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What you can’t really tell from these photos was the distance between the rocky part and the actual glacier — it seemed as if at times you could touch the glacier, but if you lost your step or reached just a bit too far, you most likely would fall down the deep, dark, icy chasm. A lot of the glacier was roped off for this reason (guessing), or had warning signs of “enter at your own risk.” Sly risked, I took photos.

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We didn’t spend too long at the glacier since we decided to try and make it to Denali that night. On our way down, we ran into an elderly Italian lady who had become separated from her tour group. We originally saw her on our way up, so we were confused as to why she was still there smoking a cigarette. In broken English, she asked us if we had seen a large group of people at the top, and we said that we had not. When we got to the base of the trail, a group of Italian dudes asked us if we had seen an “old lady somewhere on the trail.” We said we had and they bolted off to rescue her. Apparently this tour was just about to leave when they realized they were missing someone. Can you imagine?

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The 1961 sign shows where the glacier was back then. In 50 years, the glacier receded about a mile. Multiple signs with dates were on the side of the road when driving to the glacier.

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After the hike to Exit Glacier, we began the long drive to Denali, stopping along the way to load up on groceries for camping and to buy plenty of jerky from a roadside stand. We managed to make it to Denali with some daylight left – enough time to explore the camp store, set up our tent at Riley Creek, and make (and eat) lots of turkey and cheese sandwiches.

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  • jj
    February 1, 2012 at 4:34 am

    The first close-up picture of you is a really good (although it doesn’t quite look like you) pic of you.