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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Exit Glacier

October 9th, 2013 · No Comments

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When I returned to Kenai Fjords National Park, I had the experience that I had looked forward to for years. It was the thrill of a lifetime.

The main reason why I went back there might sound trivial to some people, but was meaningful enough for me to make the long drive of more than 100 miles from Nikiski to near Seward, Alaska. Earlier I had taken the wonderful cruise off Kenai Fjords National Park that I wrote up in the previous photo essay. But I wanted to count it as one of the 58 American national parks that I have visited. But my cruise left from Seward, which is outside of the park, and we never stepped foot off the ship anywhere else. I think that the park’s boundaries include the offshore water, but I haven’t been able to verify this hunch. So to be sure that I was correctly adding Kenai Fjords to my lifelist of national parks, I had to step onto the land there.

The other reason why I went back to the Seward areas was to visit more of the areas included in my master guidebook for visiting this area, Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula Wildlife Viewing Trail Guide. In addition to Exit Glacier, I added five new hiking and viewing areas. But nothing compared with my Exit Glacier experience.

I was hiking the most popular trail on the Kenai Peninsula where hundreds, if not thousands, of people go each summer. The trail is at the end of the only road that penetrates Kenai Fjords National Park. While this is a popular trail, I was hiking alone and taking photos of flowers.

A Usual Suspect in Unusual Light

A Usual Suspect in Unusual Light

Click on the picture above to enlarge

And then I saw a bear walking down the same trail directly toward me. The bear came within a few feet of me before it veered off to my left. I had always hoped for such an encounter and also hoped that I would have enough presence of mind to photograph it. I wondered too if I would be frightened. Probably because I knew that this was one of the less aggressive black bears, I stayed calm. Besides, the little fellow looked so cute that it reminded me of a teddy bear. Some people in Alaska carry a pistol or rifle to defend themselves when they hike. I don’t even have a knife with a blade longer than 3 inches, and I didn’t have that with me at the time. I didn’t have my bear spray either, because seeing a bear on such a well-trodden trail was the last thing I expected.

In the event, I stood my ground, quickly whipping out one of the cameras I was carrying, and getting off about a dozen photos of the bear, including the one below.

The Bear That I Met on the Exit Glacier Trail

The Bear That I Met on the Exit Glacier Trail

Click on the picture above to enlarge

You might wonder how this glacier got its name. It is one of the glaciers flowing down from the huge Harding Icefield that covers much of the Kenai Peninsula. In 1968 the first mountaineers crossed the glacier from Homer on the west. They exited the glacier eight days later at this place.

At the Edge of Exit Glacier

At the Edge of Exit Glacier

Click on the picture above to enlarge

I would have loved to follow in their footsteps and actually brought my crampons with me on this trip. But I didn’t have eight days free and doubted if I would have been quite as quick.

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Posted in: Alaska

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