Saturday, September 17, 2016

Seward, AK Part 1 July 6-11, 2016

Seward, AK Part 1 July 6-11, 2016

We spent almost a week in Seward, arriving just after the 4th of July crowd left and the festivities ended.

On the 4th of July weekend Seward has a big race up and back down Mt Marathon. It is “only” 5K (3.2 miles) in distance, however it climbs about 3000’ with an incline of about 45 degrees much or most of the way. The race winners complete the climb in around 40 minutes. Heck, it takes me about 40-45 minutes to go 5K and that is on level ground.

Picture of Mt Marathon. The race goes to the peak on the right just above the snow bank. Coming down the racers slide down the snow bank. Pretty tricky. Go too fast on the snow and you won’t be able to stop before crashing into the rocks at the bottom of the snow bank.

Also note the RV parking on the waterfront in the picture above.

More info about the 4th of July weekend in Seward here.

Originally we had planned on arriving in Seward about 10-12 days before the 4th to get a waterfront campsite and stay through the 4th. However at the last minute we changed our mind and went to Homer for a much quieter weekend.

In retrospect, maybe we should have gone to Seward and braved the crowds and noise. Maybe the next time we go to Alaska we will spend the 4th in Seward.

Anyways we had a nice stay in Seward. We had a very nice waterfront, dry camping, site with great views.

Our campsite viewed from the bay on a boat tour we took. More on the boat tour in the next blog entry.

The city operates several campgrounds along the shoreline of the bay. All sites are first come first serve unless you reserve for a group of 10 or more RV’s.

We stayed in the Iditarod CG, the smallest CG with only 10 campsites. On this map the Iditarod CG is campsites #100-109. We really liked the Iditarod CG. With its small size it was quiet & calm. The other camgrounds were very busy.

Seward CG Map



While in Seward, don’t miss going to the Alaska Sealife Center, a great aquarium.

Sharon at the entrance to the Alaska Sealife Center

We spend a very enjoyable and informative couple of hours viewing the marine wildlife.

The highlight was watching a pair of harbor seals in courtship. The aquarium guides said they were almost positive the female was in estrus and it would be only a matter of hours or a day or two before they would mate. Also if we happened to see them to start mating, be sure to let the aquarium staff know.

One of the seals swimming in their pool

The female flirting with the male.

She is being a little hussy, isn’t she!

After the flirtation on the rock she was chasing the male round and round in the pool.

Then there was the giant octopus.




A short video of the octopus
video



EXIT GLACIER & HARDING ICEFIELD TRAIL

On a very nice afternoon we visited Exit Glacier and the short trail to viewpoints for the glacier. Some of the trail was smooth packed dirt just perfect for Sharon’s scooter

While Sharon drove her scooter back to the visitor center, I hiked another 1/3 mile on a rocky trail to closer views of the glacier. Oops, no pictures of the glacier from this trail.

However in the river below the glacier there were some blocks of glacier ice in the river. I put a small chunk on a rock for the picture below.  I thought about carrying this chunk of ice back to the RV for drinks tonight, but with the ice melting, it would have made a real mess.



A day or two later on a beautful sunny day I left early, about 7:30 am, and drove to Exit Glacier for a ambitious hike on the Harding Icefield Trail.

The entire trail is 4.1 miles oneway with an elevation gain of about 3000’. However, there are significant views of Exit Glacier at Marmont Meadows, mile 1.4 – 1000’ elevation gain, and at “Top of the Cliffs” mile 2.4 – 2000’ elevation gain.

For a map of the trail as a PDF file go here.

Image of a map the lower half of the trail

Image of a map the upper half of the trail.

My plan for this hike was to hike to the point I felt comfortable climbing to and then return. If that was just the 1.4 mile point, that was fine. I did make it to the 2.4 mile point with great views of the Harding Icefield.

The hardest part of the hike was the first 1.4 miles to Marmont Meadows. The trail is quite steep in places and lots of high steps on rocks. Above Marmont Meadows the trail switchbacks up “The Cliffs” on a fairly gradual incline. Much easier than the first part.
An example of the rocky trail for the 1st 1.4 miles

Marmont Meadows with the cliffs in the back ground. The trail switchbacked to the top of “The Cliffs” from here.

Views of the trail through the Cliffs part of the trail.

Various views along the trail

At the “Top of the Cliffs” viewpoint.

TheHarding Icefield behind me, and its outflowing glaciers cover 700 square miles of Alaska's Kenai Mountains in glacier ice.

If I had gone to the end of the trail I would had a much better view of the ice field.


The trail going beyond “Top of the Cliffs”.  Look for the labels pointing to a couple of hikers and the trail continuing on. 

Looking down on a switchback.

I am really glad I started this hike early in the day. As I was going down I must have passed or let pass me, about 40-50 hikers.

Here is a group in a ranger led hike

Some flowers and and a Marmont from along the trail.

A Salmon Berry.  Looks like a large raspberry.  They are delicious. 

I have been lax in my exercise routine since we stated this trip, or I would have attempted to do the whole 8.2 mile 3000’ elevation gain hike.

But 4.8 miles and 2000’ is not bad for a 71 year old who thinks of himself as about 45!!



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