Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

The one glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park that can be accessed by land is Exit Glacier, just a few miles outside of Seward, Alaska. Mountain Dad and I were excited to see such a massive geological feature in person and luckily the hike to the Glacier is relatively easy.

The receding level of this glacier is well documented with sign posts on the road indicating how far the glacier reached in the year on the post. The wall of blue ice was an impressive sight, well worth the hike, even if the trail at the Edge of the Glacier got steep and rocky toward the end.

More intrepid explorers can take the Harding Ice Field trail 8 miles round trip to experience the massive ice covered land that makes up most of Kenai Fjords National Park.

Standing next to Exit Glacier, so close I could’ve touched it (I wanted to, but it wasn’t safe at that point) I realized just a little more how large this amazing world is. That is the reason I love being outdoors, I always find something new and awe inspiring. The vast beauty that exists in the world should always be experienced first hand, and visiting a glacier before they all melt was a major reason we went to Alaska in the first place.

The night before exploring Exit Glacier, Mountain Dad and I stayed at the only campground in Kenai Fjords National Park – Exit Glacier Campground.

Exit Glacier campground is unlike any I have ever stayed at. As a tent only, walk in campsite there were no reservations, no individual parking spaces and no picnic tables for each site. A communal cooking and storage area had three picnic tables and space to put food overnight. Bear awareness postings were everywhere, so not even pets were allowed by the sleeping area.

Our campsite, number nine, was in a secluded alcove and gave the feeling of solitude, even with other campers nearby. The trail through the campground meanders past Exit Glacier runoff waters, and gave me an immediate sense of wildness.  Exit Glacier, the only glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park that has access by car, rose in the distance.

I highly recommend a stop at Exit Glacier if you travel to the Seward area. The views were breathtaking and the surroundings were beyond compare.

Edge of the Glacier Trail
Getting There: Turn on Herman Leirer/Exit Glacier Road at Mile 3 on the Seward Highway. Road dead ends in 8.5 miles at the visitors center.
Distance: about 2.2 miles round trip
Time: 2 hours
Tips: Stay out of the water – it’s FREEZING!

Outdoor Retailers 2014 Summer Show, Salt Lake City, Utah

Twice a year outdoor gear companies the world over converge on Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailers conference. This year’s four day summer show (plus a demo day on Tuesday) was just last week at the Salt Palace Convention Center downtown. It included booths from the largest companies in the gear industry – Arc’teryx, Big Agnes, Black Diamond Equipment, North Face, Columbia, Goal Zero, Camelback.

Every kind of outdoor product was represented at the show – climbing equipment, tents, stoves, camping supplies, trailers, kayaks, stand up paddle boards, clothing, shoes, food. This was my first time to Outdoor Retailers and the sheer volume of things to see was overwhelming. I spent my time in one small section of the Salt Palace Ballroom and only scratched the surface of what possibilities there were.

While checking out the new items coming to market in the spring I was able to meet some great people at Lodge, Pakems, Avex, AGS Brands and Klean Kanteen who generously donated gear for future product reviews. With the tots in tow I was only able to spend a short time at the show, but I look forward to more opportunities in the future.

The best part of the show was an outdoor family bloggers meetup that was coordinated by Kathy from GoAdventureMom.com. It was great to meet the bloggers behind talesofamountainmama.com, kidproject.org, garagegrowngear.com, BackcountryParenting.com and some of their cute kiddos. I’m a big fan of supporting families to get outdoors and bring the kids along. All in all there’s a lot to look forward to in the outdoor industry coming up.

Aialik Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska

 

Kenai Fjords National Park has the unique position of being one of the few national parks where the majority of its land is covered by ice. Because of its location, the easiest way to explore this national park is actually by boat, which is the reason Mountain Dad and I took a cruise through Resurrection Bay with Kenai Fjords Tours.

Aialik Glacier

 

 

The weather was wet, cloudy and cold, and I was very glad that I had purchased a rain jacket just the day before. Because of the stormy weather, the water was really rough as we crossed into the open ocean outside of Resurrection Bay. The four to six foot swells and ten to twenty knot winds were enough to make Mountain Dad quite queasy. To me it felt a lot like a roller coaster, not a sickness inducing traumatic event, only because I took motion sickness medicine beforehand.
 

 

Along the way out of Resurrection Bay we were lucky to find a pod of Orcas, or Killer Whales swimming out to sea. I’m impressed by their matriarchal society, with grandmothers being the ones to call the shots. Through out the day long cruise we saw a lot of wildlife including Oystercatchers, Comerants, Tufted Puffins, Puffins, Orcas, Dalls Porpoise, Sea Stars, Mountain Goats, Seagulls, and even a Humpback Whale. Zoom in close to the rocks near the water to see some harbor seals.
 

The highlight of the Kenai Fjords National Park cruise for me was watching the Aialik Glacier do its thing. This tidewater glacier morphs daily as huge chunks of ice break off and plunged into the water below. It was a spectacular view of nature’s forces at work, and one of the main things we wanted to see in Alaska. 
 

 
The beautiful scenery, wildlife sightings and glacier experience were pretty amazing, but what topped off the trip was a stop on fox island for a prime rib and salmon buffet and a park ranger chat. It was a great end to a wet day on the water. Although pricey, the boat trip to see such an incredible part of the world was worth it.
 
 
Price: $172 Adults / $86.00 Children (2–11), plus tax and fees
Time: 8-9 hours, includes lunch and dinner
Tips: Shorter and cheaper cruises are available as well as day cruises with different companies. Kenai Fjords Tours did not sponsor this post in anyway. 

 

Primrose Campground, Chugach National Forest, Alaska

On our first full night in Alaska, Mountain Dad and I decided to set up camp at Primrose Campground in the Chugach National Forest, on the shores of Kenai Lake. Now, I know people warned me about the land of the midnight sun, but I really didn’t expect constant daylight to throw me off so much.

In the summer Alaska can get up to 22 hours of daylight in the summer (Fairbanks, summer solstice), so it’s relatively bright outside ALL THE TIME. That’d be great if I wasn’t so accostomed to sleeping in the dark. Sleeping in a tent without blackout curtains made bedtime feel like naptime, even with an eyemask. It made me focus more on how tired I felt, not on the external cues of darkness I hadn’t realized I needed. This must be how my kids feel at bedtime in the summer.

Primrose Campground is located the shores of Primrose Creek and Kenai Lake – a great base for a fishing adventure. People flock to the Kenai Peninsula to fish every year, for good reason. The annual salmon run attracts thousands of fish to their nursery waters, and the Alaska Department of Fish and Wildlife is a great resource for those looking for a good catch.

In addition to easy fishing access, Primrose Campground is the trailhead to Primrose Trail, a 15 mile backpacking hike that connects to Lost Lake Trail and a pristine mountain lake. The campground has 8 sites, no hookups and is within a short drive of Seward. It was a beautiful spot, and I would camp there again in a heartbeat, even if it doesn’t accept reservations.

Primrose Campground, Chugach National Forest
Getting There: Turn northwest at Mile 17 on the Seward Highway. Follow the shoreline of Kenai Lake 1.5 miles to the campground.
Amenities: Pit Toilets, Parking, Picnic Tables, Water, Boat Launch, Easy access to Primrose Trail, Primrose Creek and Kenai Lake
Tips: Bring a rain coat and mosquito repellant – even in the rain, the mosquitos were tenacious.