Tag Archives: Seward

Harding Ice Field trail, Seward, Alaska – September 10, 2004

My climb to the Harding Ice field was between a hike and a run. I was trying to decide whether to include it or not, but once I took another look at the pictures from the climb, it seemed quite obvious that I’ve been mostly running so here it is…
Earlier that day, I took a boat tour of the Kenai Fjords National Park. After that was done, driving towards the Anchorage, I noticed a sign for the Exit Glacier and I went to check it out. Harding Ice Field trail head was near the parking lot. I have not heard of this trail before, but the sign said it was only 4 miles to the top and I figured it would have great views. I had little over 3 hours of daylight left, which I thought was plenty. Back then, I’ve been running routinely 6-8 miles, and I was in decent shape.
I signed the log book and took off (by myself). After a first ¼ mile or so, it became obvious that this will be quite a challenge. Calling this trail steep and strenuous is a major understatement. The elevation gain is about 4000 ft over the course of 4 miles! On some parts I almost had to scramble on all fours. Still, I kept running and running. I took few stops along the way to take selfies and pictures of the ice. I finished my run/hike and logged out 2 hours and 58 min after I started. That included some 30 min at the top, chilling out near the ice field, and few minutes here and there to take pictures. I have to say, this trail and the views are out-of-this-world. It was really worth it but I was very tired. I can definitely recommend this hike, but please, take it easy and give yourself a lot of time. I almost broke my leg on the way down.
Looking back now, I realize how insane this whole thing was. Since then, I’ve tried to reach the Harding Ice field two more times with my friend and both times we failed to make it to the end of the trail. Once we had to turn back due to the very bad weather and near 0 ft visibility, and the second time we had big problems with Grizzly bears on the trail, and then, my friend fell through the ice and injured his leg so we had to turn back.