The Harding Icefield and its outflowing glaciers cover 700 square miles of Alaska's Kenai Mountains in glacier ice. Antarctica and Greenland are the only present-day ice sheets. The park received 303,598 visitors in 2017. Needing to get to Homer and unwilling to wait for another steamer, Kilcher decided to cross the Harding. Along the way, the party made a first-ever ascent of Truuli Peak, a 6,612—foot eminence that protrudes from the northwestern edge of the icefield near Truuli Glacier. Hiking Tip. The icefield is approximately 80 km long (northeast‐southwest) and 50 km wide with a total area of 1800 km 2. The Harding Icefield, located in the Kenai Mountains of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska, feeds at least 38 glaciers, including Exit Glacier. Harding Ice Field Trail, Kenai Fjords National Park: See 190 reviews, articles, and 281 photos of Harding Ice Field Trail, ranked No.1 on Tripadvisor among 8 attractions in Kenai Fjords National Park. Harding Icefield Hike: This spectacular hike is one of our favorite challenging hikes in Alaska, and takes you through some of the most incredible landscapes in the region. Watch the Alaskan wilderness awaken on this 6-hour morning cruise through Kenai Fjords National Park from Seward. In 2004, the NPS installed an automated weather station at 4,200 feet on a nunatak in the northeastern part of the Harding Icefield (Figure 2). However, in Seward Alaska, it’s easier than ever to get right up to the glacier and see the vast expanse of the Harding Icefield as well. The Harding Icefield Trail will take a full day, and not simply because it’s long, but because it’s high – you’ll be walking well over half a mile in altitude as the trail … Two parties attempted to cross the icefield in the mid-1960s. Length of the Harding Icefield Trail. Bedrock can show through the ice of an icefield. The Harding Icefield is an expansive icefield located in the Kenai Mountains of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. The flora and fauna of the Kenai Fjords National Park vary with altitude above sea-level. The numerous fjords carved by these glaciers give the protected area its name. The forecast shows local time for Harding Icefield. Hike the 7.4 mile Harding Icefield Trail, up along side Exit Glacier to the place that glaciers are born in 700 square mile of ice called Harding Ice Field. How to Hike the Harding Icefield Trail. Icefields vary in size and connect a series of glaciers. Because of the cooling effect of the visible ice, but more importantly the immense Harding Icefield, the tree line altitude remained suppressed. But still, regardless of the micro-climate variations, the general trend of the phenomenon known as forest succession is that the glaciers leave behind bare rock, which lichens then begin to break down. The weather station records and transmits weather observations (temperature, wind speed and direction, relative humidity, precipitation, snow depth, and solar radiation) hourly. It is named for United States President Warren G. Harding. I went in mid-July and there was still some snow at … In 1963, a party consisting of Don Stockard, Tom Johnson, and Carl Blomgren tried a westbound crossing. The still air was heavy with moisture as I hiked up the Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park outside Seward, Alaska. Alaska has so much to offer, and one of those offerings is being able to hike right up to a massive glacier! Conditions on the icefield overwhelmed him however, and a week later he was back in Seward. Studies of glacial deposits on land indicate at least four major periods of glaciation. Current wind map of Harding Icefield, United States contains live wind speed and wind direction map showing prevailing winds in this area. In early 1936, a 27-year-old Swiss immigrant and future state senator named Yule Kilcher disembarked in Seward. Icefields also exert their own influence on local and global climate, changing pressure systems and wind directions, serving to keep adjacent land and water cold. Very excited! 3000 feet or 914 metres. Dense clouds hung low, and fingers of fog crept up the valleys. The upper section is kind of a grind but at that point you're only at 3000' elevation so you're feeling altitude like you do in the Rockies. Before the early 1920s, local residents paid little attention to the huge icefield in the mountain range behind the town. It feeds at least 38 glaciers, including Exit Glacier. Ice sheets are huge and continental in scope. Skilak Lake, on the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge where our journey began, did not appear to be anywhere near an icefield. Seward residents generally ignored the huge icefield west of town before 1922. The Harding Iccfield is located on tlie southeast side of the ICenai Pcninsula, with elevations reaching 1500 ni above sea level. Created more than 23,000 years ago during the Pleistocene Epoch, the Harding Icefield was a small piece of the vast ice sheet that covered much of Southcentral Alaska (Figure 1). KenaiFjordsNationalPark.com: "Sights To See." A National Park Service (NPS) study using aerial photographs and satellite imagery measured a three percent reduction in the surface area of the Harding Icefield over a period of 16 years. Icefields are sensitive to climate change, growing and melting in response to changes in temperature and snowfall. The forecast shows local time for Harding Icefield. Several glaciers originate from this icefield like the Bear Glacier. The trip took eight days. The Lure of the Icefield The Harding Icefield is over 700 square miles (1813 km 2) in its entirety (although, if one were to count its glaciers which descend from the icefield in all directions, the icefield measures in at over 1,100 square miles (2,849 km 2) The icefield spawns up to 40 glaciers of all types. [2] The icefield itself receives over 400 inches of snow each year.[3]. Would you hike to the Harding Icefield? Between the mid-1920s and the early 1930s, the increasing popularity of aviation had given a lucky few the opportunity to soar over the icefield. The trail is an extension of the Exit Glacier hike, passing through alpine meadows and craggy, bushy terrain before reaching the Harding Icefield. Part of this group, including Yule Kilcher, continued across the Harding Icefield and skied down Exit Glacier. Icefield, ice cap, ice sheet—the terms can be confusing. The still air was heavy with moisture as I hiked up the Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park outside Seward, Alaska. This website uses cookies. The Harding Icefield is thousands of feet thick, but it does not completely bury the underlying mountains. In the mid-1960s, two parties attempted but failed to make the crossing. Access to the Harding Icefield is exceptional in comparison to other large icefields. By continuing to browse our website you are agreeing to our use of cookies. It was typical weather for a temperate rainforest, I kept reminding myself, but gloomy all the same. Both attempts were unsuccessful. They are free to join. Aboard a warm and spacious vessel customized for comfort, cruise past alpine and tidewater glaciers among the fjords and take in a bounty of … The Harding Icefield and its outflowing glaciers cover 700 square miles of Alaska's Kenai Mountains in glacier ice. He headed up Lowell Creek but returned within a week, having learned a crossing like this would be more of an expedition than a hike. At the top, the view is unlike any other: Mountain peaks enshrouded with ice stretch off into the distance and many must be tempted to come back someday, like Kilcher, and go further. United States - Hike to Harding Icefield - My husband and I are travelling to Alaska during the last 2 weeks of July. Expedition members included Bill Babcock, Eric Barnes, Bill Fox, Dave Johnston, Yule Kilcher and his son Otto, Dave Spencer, Helmut Tschaffert, and Vin and Grace (Jansen) Hoeman. Alaska: Kenai Fjords National Park, Harding Icefield Trail (Photo: Amy Meredith/Flickr) Distance: 8.2 miles round-trip Recommended Gear: Snowshoes or crampons, trekking poles. It was typical weather for a temperate rainforest, I kept reminding myself, but gloomy all the same. Satellite retrieval of snow algal discoloration in the Harding Icefield has also been achieved using similar techniques by Takeuchi et al. Aerial view of Harding icefield and Nunataks. Harding Icefield Trail Exit Glacier Trails Map photo taken July 2003 North 0 0.5 Miles 0 0.5 Kilometers Kenai Fjords National Park National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior Harding Icefield Trail A hike to the top of the Harding Icefield Trail gives you a glimpse of what much of south-central Alaska looked like during the last ice age. Early in the season, about half of the trail is covered in snow, but hikers with boots will have little problem walking through it. (2006). In 1980, the founding legislation for Kenai Fjords National Park included a segment to protect and preserve the Harding Icefield and its out-flowing glaciers. Up to this point, however, people had walked only on the icefield's margins. The Harding Icefield is over 700 square miles (1813 km2) in its entirety (although, if one were to count its glaciers which descend from the icefield in all directions, the icefield measures in at over 1,100 square miles (2,849 km2) [1] The icefield spawns up to 40 glaciers of all types. How to hike harding icefield exit glacier trail. Yule Kilcher, a 27-year-old Swiss immigrant, had heard of the icefield and seen its edge from the steamer that had dropped him off in Seward. The Harding Ice Field is a bit more boring in its uniformity, in that most of its glaciers are retreating, he said. Elevation Gain of the Harding Icefield Trail. Nunatak, meaning “lonely peak” is the term for such mountaintops surrounded in ice. Notable recent explorations include a 14-hour solo crossing of the icefield from Skilak Glacier to Chernof Glacier and a kite-skiing expedition from Exit Glacier to Grewingk Glacier. Some of these glaciers are tidewater (Aialik Glacier) or terminate in lakes (Skilak Glacier), and some end on land (Exit Glacier). It is also partially located in Kenai Fjords National Park. Scientists studying glacial geology and past climates recognize that the last two and a half million years of Earth’s history fluctuated periodically between cold and warm conditions. [6] The Harding Icefield is located on the Kenai Peninsula, south‐central Alaska and is one of the larger icefields found there . Harsh conditions limit the growth of plants at high altitudes. They hiked from Bear Glacier west to Tustumena Glacier. About 1940, two Kenai Peninsula residents, Eugene "Coho" Smith and Don Rising, apparently were successful in their attempt to cross the icefield. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Harding Icefield, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Harding_Icefield&oldid=942295482, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 23 February 2020, at 20:33. Before I knew it, only 12 hours after my arrival and a restless night, I was up in the air on a bushplane, admiring glaciers from above. Unwilling to wait two weeks for a coastal steamer, Kilcher walked to the Homer area, probably by way of the Resurrection River valley. Expect a vast, glittering snowfield, and an epic view of the mountains and glaciers that surround the Harding Icefield. Evidence from deep-sea cores suggests that a dozen major glaciations may have occurred during the Pleistocene Epoch. The first known crossing of the icefield occurred in 1940 when two Alaskans, Eugene “Coho” Smith and Don Rising, crossed from Bear Glacier to Tustumena Lake. The NPS plans to repeat this study every ten years to monitor further changes. Climate Change Past and Present In 1968, a mountaineering party departed Homer on horseback, traveled up Chernof Glacier on foot and skis, and completed the first ascent of Truuli Peak, the highest point on the Kenai Peninsula. There are Ranger led Harding Icefield hikes from 9am on Saturdays in July to August. The still air was heavy with moisture as I hiked up the Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park outside Seward, Alaska. The Harding Icefield is 777 square km and one of the largest non-polar icefields in the world. Some of the more notable glaciers include the Tustumena Glacier, Exit Glacier, and McCarty Glacier. Remnant from the last ice age the Harding Icefield feeds over 40 glaciers like Exit Glacier across the Kenai Mountains. The Exit Glacier, however, is the most accessible of the glaciers being reached by a spur road off of the Seward Highway. Harding Icefield Hike: One of the best challenging hikes in Anchorage, and indeed, the whole of Alaska, the Harding Icefield trail takes you up past Exit Glacier to the permanent snowfield. 2002). Retrieved December 14, 2006. Dense clouds hung low and fingers of fog crept up the valleys. Retrieved December 14, 2006", Kenai Fjords National Park - Exit Glacier (U.S. National Park Service). Sun and moon, 01/10/2020; Sun Moon; Sunrise 08:07; Moonrise 20:04: Sunset 19:29: Moonset 07:33: Latitude/longitude: 60°01′05″N 149°59′09″W Decimal coordinates: 60.0181 -149.9861. Harding Icefield between Bear and Skilak Glaciers, Nunatak Plateau in background, Last edited on 23 February 2020, at 20:33, Learn how and when to remove this template message, "Alaska Science Forum: "Harding Icefield's Loss is the Ocean's Gain." After securing a homestead, he returned to Seward, and in late July he hiked up the Lowell Creek drainage toward the icefield. Hike to the Harding Icefield Shelter. The 8.2-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike leaving from the Exit Glacier Area.Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breath-taking view of the Icefield. For more details about cookies and how to manage them, see our cookie policy.cookie policy. Ice as Far as the Eye Can See Sun and moon, 27/11/2020; Sun Moon; Sunrise 09:27; Moonrise 15:42: Sunset 16:06: Moonset 05:59: Latitude/longitude: 60°01′05″N 149°59′09″W Decimal coordinates: 60.0181 -149.9861. Most scientists accept the Milankovitch theory (see climate change section of this manual) of orbital forcing—that cyclical changes in the Earth’s orbit around the sun are a principal cause of the ice age and long-term changes in the Earth’s climate. Where is the trail head for harding icefield exit glacier hiking trail in alaska. Kenai Fjords National Park,Part of gallery of color pictures of US National Parks by professional photographer QT Luong, available as prints or for licensing. A steep, four-mile trail leads from the ranger station at Exit Glacier up to the edge of the icefield, affording visitors with a spectacular view and skilled mountaineers with ready access to the ice. It was a 3000 foot gain in altitude--6 miles roundtrip. He was headed for Kachemak Bay, where he intended to take up residence, but was so intrigued by the icefield he had seen from the steamship that he vowed to cross it before long. The icefield is also one of four remaining icefields in the United States and is the largest contained entirely within the United States. The men, however, told no one of their intentions, and once they returned, Smith's wife was the only one that was aware of what they had done. Ten people were involved in the crossing, which went from Chernof Glacier east to Exit Glacier. Dense clouds hung low, and fingers of fog crept up the valleys. The Harding Icefield is located in the Kenai Mountains of the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska. Geography. Today, during the warmth of the mid-summer season, many people climb the Harding Icefield Trail to see the ice firsthand. In 1983 Roman Dial and Jim Lokken skied from the edge of the Skilak Glacier to the Tustumena Glacier edge in a single day and in 1984 Dial skied from the Skilak to the Chernof solo in one day as part of the Alaska Mountain Wilderness Classic. 3 Days later I was on my first real challenge, called the Harding Icefield Trail near Seward. OVERVIEW: The Harding Icefield Trail is an 8.2-mile, 5-hour hike round trip with a 3,150-foot elevation gain.Hiking conditions are best from June to September. What is the best hike in alaska. Three years later, J. Vin Hoeman, Dave Johnston, and Dr. Grace Jansen made an eastbound attempt. The Harding Icefield (approximately 80 km x 30 km in area) spawns several dozen outlet glaciers that flow down valleys and terminate on land, in … Indeed, at the time, ice blanketed one third of the Earth's surface. Ice caps are dome-shaped and cover the terrain they rest on. Over 30 glaciers of different size and type flow outward from the Harding Icefield. Current weather observations and summary reports can be viewed at the Western Region Climate Center’s website: http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/ rawMAIN.pl?akAHAR. Also, a wind forecast map is available, the map includes all changes of wind for a 10 days period by 3 hours steps. Harding Icefield, named for former U.S. President Warren Harding, is located in the mountains of the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska. The morning of May 11, we loaded our still-damp gear into the APU vans and made for the Kenai Peninsula, where we were to embark on a 13-day traverse of the Harding Icefield. Recent scientific studies are documenting significant short-term changes in Alaska glaciers and the Harding Icefield. The icefield spawns more than 38 glaciers some of which are tidewater, some of which terminate in lakes, and others terminate on land. Their trip remained a virtual secret for more than twenty years after they completed it. During the first three full years of operation, the lowest observed temperature was -21 degrees F, the highest observed temperature was 68 degrees F, and the maximum observed sustained wind gust was 117 miles per hour. The construction of the Spruce Creek trail that year, however, made it possible to view the upper portions of the icecap, and President Harding's promise to visit the territory was sufficient to bestow his name on the feature. 8.2miles or 13km return. The trail gains about 1000' of elevation, so it is not a hard hike. Created more than 23,000 years ago during the Pleistocene Epoch, the Harding Icefield was a small piece of the vast ice sheet that covered much of Southcentral Alaska (Figure 1). To see the full video after the recap video below, scroll to the bottom of the page! Some of the more notable glaciers include the Tustumena Glacier, Exit Glacier, and McCarty Glacier. As noted above, Yule Kilcher, Dave Johnston, Vin Hoeman, and Grace Hoeman were veterans of previous attempts; of the ten, only four–Bill Babcock, Dave Johnston, Yule Kilcher, and Vin Hoeman–hiked all the way across the icefield. Naming the Ice The expedition left Homer on April 17, bound for Chernof Glacier; eight days later, they descended Exit Glacier and arrived in Seward. Review of Harding Ice Field Trail. Alutiiq and Dena’ina Natives were no doubt familiar with the ice and had accessed it, but there is no record of any attempted crossing until 1936. 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