The drive south to Seward took us through more amazing scenery. The difference on this drive was that the sun was still shining brightly and we could see it. The road was busy. Many folks fly into Anchorage and head south into the Kenai Peninsula for fishing, boating, hiking, hunting, and great views. There’s only one road until you get to the turn-off for Seward. The town has been in the local news a lot lately. Every 4th of July visitors from around the world race one another up and down 3,000 foot Mt. Marathon. This year a man about our age was last seen 200 feet from the top and then he never came back down. His intention was to walk rather than run and search teams looked for over a week to no avail. It’s supposed to be a fun, almost zany occasion and it all was terribly sad.
The town has a lengthy waterfront. Except for the small boat harbor and a dock for small cruise ships, there’s one city owned campground after another on the water front. All the sites are on or near the water, but only one small section had sites with water and electricity. We feel so fortunate to have the last two utility sites available with a view to the sea and mountains in front of us and more mountains behind us including Mt. Marathon which appears to rise almost vertically. All these campgrounds share one area with two water spigots and two spots to dump sewage. They were nearly empty when we pulled up, but the lines grew dramatically by the time we left. Timing is everything.
Seward is surround by Kenai National Park which is almost exclusively an ice field. Exit Glacier is the only part that is easily visited by car. It used to be even more easily visited when it hadn’t melted and retreated hundreds of feet, but a hiking trail brought us right along side. Today it is two miles long, but it used to be twice that length. First we walked through lush forest that grew on land where the ice lay thick 200 years ago. In the areas more recently exposed lichen, mosses and pink fireweed had a toehold. The trail was almost as crowded as the roads were on the way here. Some of our fellow hikers looked done in by the climb, but it was less than a mile and we enjoyed getting a chance to sweat a bit.
Exit Glacier is one small finger hanging down from the massive Harding Icefield. It got its name from early explorers who were looking for a route off the ice field. We hope to see more of those ice fingers tomorrow by boat.