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Thursday, 31 August 2006

On the Ice: Exit Glacier, Alaska - Page 4

Written by Alison Drucker
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The adventure began with a phone call to the tour office asking whether we should bring lunch along on the five-hour hike, and a nonchalant response: “we advise against that because of bear danger” – a statement that made me decidedly nervous.



Exit Glacier Guides is the only Seward outfit that takes hikers out on the ice; technically, anyone can do it on his own, and assorted hikers sometimes follow Brendan and Ryan and their groups to the edge of the glacier, but they always receive a foreboding warning about the dangers of ice-hiking without the proper equipment.  The prospect of sliding to a hypothermic demise at the bottom of a crevasse usually stops even the most adventurous travelers in their tracks.

mountainsAfter nearly two hours of ice-trekking, our noses and fingers were begging us to get out of the cold wind, so we left Exit Glacier behind, packed up our crampons and helmets, and began the descent down the mountain (after a quick snack of peanuts and M&Ms to satisfy our stomachs, which were begging us for food equally forcefully).  We saw a smattering of hikers on the way down and took great joy in warning them about the bears in the meadows above and instructing them in the tried-and-true “hello, bear” technique.  We were seasoned ice-hiking pros.

It was difficult to leave the rugged natural beauty of the park and return to the paved streets of Seward, and then later, even more difficult to leave the quaint seaside charm of Seward and return to the endless bustle of life in the lower forty-eight states.  Something just seems strange now about being back in a place where black bears don’t cross your path on a regular basis and your backyard isn’t a national park.  It was incredibly refreshing to know we were all alone on a slab of ice that had dominated that particular landscape for an eternity, but that was living, breathing, changing right under our feet.

I returned home with the soothing knowledge simply that places like Exit Glacier exist, and that if you want to temporarily free yourself from the constraints of everyday life, all it takes is a plane ticket.  Take my advice and see the glacier now – before either the crowds discover it or global warming sucks it dry; it’s a truly unique and exhilarating experience.


If you go:

Exit Glacier Guides


Seward, Alaska


©Alison Drucker


(Page 4 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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