Monday, August 01, 2011
What Is At The Other Side of Harding Icefield?
A Hiker Enjoying the Scenery at the Harding Icefield
Our hike to Harding Icefield during our second day Alaskan trip is for me the best part of our seven full days wandering. When I was planning the itinerary for our trip, I thought I saved the best part for last, that is hiking in the glacier! I am not saying I did not enjoy our glacier hike, I actually enjoyed our glacier hike immensely. However, Harding Icefield totally blew me away, in maybe all aspects. Physically, because the wind at the end of trail of Harding Icefield was extremely strong that we had to really exert so much pressure on the ground not to be blown away. Mentally, emotionally and spiritually, the forces that shape Harding Icefield continue to inspire me. Maybe it is because I have never seen something like this before. Though we saw many glaciers on our first day, but it is at this day where we came very close to a glacier and looked at it in all directions. Harding Icefield covers 700 square miles of Kenai Mountains in glacier ice, connecting a network of 38 glaciers. During our hike, we only were able to take a glimpse of one of the glaciers, the Exit Glacier which I shared in my earlier post. In my two previous posts, Hiking Harding Icefield and Exit Glacier, I mentioned I will be sharing next the other glaciers of the Harding Icefield.
The first glacier I will share is the Bear Glacier. Bear Glacier is the largest glacier flowing out of the Harding Icefield. It was hard for me to imagine that we were at the other side of this glacier a day before, at 3500 ft level of a sea of ice.
the other side of Harding Icefield is the Gulf of Alaska
Mentally, it is mind blowing for me to think that just the other day, we were sitting close to the peak of the icefield at the other side of this ocean. I guess being a lover of both the mountains and the ocean, this is what makes Kenai Fjords National Park very special for me, a place, where not only mountains and oceans meet, but mountains, oceans and ice. The Kenai Fjords National Park was established in 1980 to " maintain unimpaired the scenic and environmental integrity of the Harding Icefield, its outflowing glaciers and coastal fjords and islands....This park is about ice and its legacy, glaciers, icefields and coastal fjords."- source: http://www.nps.gov/kefj/naturescience/naturalfeaturesandecosystems.htm . The fjord estuary ecosystem is one of the richest assemblages of life on Earth, and found only in 6 locations around the planet ( Chile, Norway, New Zealand, Alaska, Greenland and Antartica). Much of Kenai Fjords National Park cannot be accessed by foot, and I am glad we took the Kenai Fjords National Park Glacier and Wildlife Cruise to be able to see the other side of Harding Icefield. It gives me the dreamy thought that we have crossed the icefield to the other side, only that, we did not cross it on foot :)
Big Crumbles of Ice, Kenai Fjords National Park
In my next post, I will share one of the most magical experiences I had observing the dynamic change in nature first hand, where all those ice in the above picture came from, and another glacier of the Harding Icefield.