Bear Glacier is the longest glacier in Kenai Fjords National Park, at 13 miles, and Bear Glacier Lagoon is a popular kayaking destination.
The Bear is no longer a tidal glacier. Several hundred years ago, the glacier laid down enough terminal moraine to cut itself off from the sea. Bear Glacier now ends at a small, freshwater lake. The lake, which often has icebergs floating in it, has a surface area of 3.5 square miles, and runs 300-500 feet deep.
The lagoon, took on the nickname, Halibut Cove while we were fishing. One of us hooked a nice halibut when fishing for salmon. Unfortunately, patience was a lost virtue, and the halibut was lost as well. To be fair, landing a nice halibut with a salmon rig is no easy feat.
Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Another year, another wonderful day, and another hike up to Exit Glacier. According to the park ranger I spoke to, the glacier had receded 70 meters, or roughly 200 feet since we had last visited Exit in August of 2017.
The view from 2010
The signpost marks where the toe of Exit Glacier was just eight years ago. Due to the sunny weather, the trail was a busy place to be, and the glacier’s toe was an ice fall hazard zone.
Exit Creek rushes out from under the glacier, on its journey to Resurrection Bay and the Gulf of Alaska.
While in Seward, we made a trip out to Exit Glacier, which is in Kenai Fjords National Park. Exit, is one of over 30 glaciers that flow out from the Harding Icefield. Although, Exit Glacier is by far the most accessible. It’s a 4.1 mile hike from the visitor center to the edge of the Harding Icefield.
Harding Icefield, which is several thousand feet thick.
Kenai Fjords is a trip back in time. A series of signs show where the glacier was from 1815 onward. As one gets closer to the glacier, the woods become younger and younger.
Exit Glacier terminus map. Credit: NPS.Erin Erkun
The glacier was originally known as Resurrection Glacier, as the glacier’s melt flows into the Resurrection River and finally Resurrection Bay. The first documented trip across the Harding Icefield in 1968, saw the team “exit” the ice field from Resurrection Glacier, and the nickname “Exit” Glacier stuck.
Photo credit: ADN
Exit Glacier is retreating in winter now, as well as summer, and it has been since 2006. The sign post showing where the terminus was in 1917, is now approximately a mile from the current terminus. The summer of 2016 set a record for the glacier: Exit retreated 252 feet, the most of any summer since records have been kept. For that year, the glacier saw 293 feet disappear.
Map credit: ADN