Alaska - Kenai Fjords National Park, Seward, and Girdwood - Days Five & Six
Wednesday, we drove from the Reindeer Farm down to Seward to stay in what is called the “Rocket House”. In the Airbnb description, it said that we couldn’t miss it because it had a “unique shape,” and boy, were they right. The views from the deck, though, were incredible!
When we woke up Thursday morning, we were ready for more adventure. We took the quick trip from Seward to Kenai Fjords National Park, and immediately fell in love with the idea of the Harding Ice Field Trail.
The temperatures at the park were cold, but I suppose that is what’s to be expected for a hike out to a glacier. Us, being the Midwesterners that we are, figured it was fine because - you guessed it - the wind wasn’t too bad.
We hiked up over 4.5 miles, for a total of 3,284 feet of elevation gain (according to my Garmin). I then accidentally stopped my activity, and my watch eventually died on the way back. The anger that caused is a story for another day. I guess I will just be grateful that I was able to track the entire ascent, knowing that the descent was the same path.
Along the hike up, after miles of icy, slippery conditions, we met a friendly park ranger. I couldn’t help but notice that he was hiking with trekking poles, and asked him if he thought this hike was okay without them. He said, “Well, you’ve gotten through the worst of it already, so it’s just a matter of getting back down now.”
We continued to the glacier, spotting both the emergency shelter and the highest elevation point of the hike before moving on. I stopped at a fun spot at the top, taking in the beauty of our surroundings. Zac decided to “go just a bit further,” which ended up translating into going all the way to the glacier - which was probably about another mile.
The views were absolutely incredible. There were either mountains, snowy voids, or a glacier in each direction. This hike felt a lot like a mountain hike - the satisfaction of reaching the top to catch a glimpse of such incredible views is almost indescribable. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but think that the thought of earning the views just makes them so much better.
The hike was a long enough one that it ended up taking up the majority of our day. After our hike, we were both tired and hungry. Another benefit of earning the views is earning the food after! We checked out a local restaurant for dinner. We both got fish dinners because Seward is definitely a fishing town, and we needed to check out the local delicacies!
Finally, we turned into the Rocket House for the night, complete with the reading of a good book by a blazing fire in the wood furnace. We even saw two bald eagles flying around our camp.
Friday was a day of driving, short adventures, and exploring Girdwood. We started the day bright and early, and I am so glad we did! As we said goodbye to the Rocket House, we spotted two bald eagles searching for their breakfast - I am assuming they were the same two from the night before but who knows.
After watching the eagles for a bit, we headed to Seward’s Cup, a tiny drive-up coffee shop shaped like a coffee cup. We grabbed some coffees to go then headed toward Girdwood.
Along the way, we stopped at Victor Creek Trail to stretch our legs. We saw what I can only assume was probably bear poop right in the middle of the trail, but the closest thing we saw to live wildlife on the hike was probably a toss-up between that and the mushrooms everywhere. I have never seen so many mushrooms!
After the hike, we branched off of the Seward Highway (one of the most scenic drives in Alaska, according to The Top One-Day and Afternoon Scenic Drives), to check out the Hope Highway. Not only did we hit a few of the most scenic drives in Alaska on our trip, but we also hit a few that weren’t listed that I feel should have totally been on that list. I can’t speak to the Hope Highway in other seasons, but it was a gorgeous fall drive for sure.
We made it to Girdwood and had a few more hours to spare before being able to check into our new “home.” When I realized the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center was just a few miles away, it made for a quick decision on what to do next.
Remember, we had already seen a moose at the Reindeer Farm, but still hadn’t seen any bears or wolves. Finally, we got a chance to! They weren’t in the wild, so we were able to get even closer to them than we would have otherwise. Zac and I even got the wolves to start howling (we may or may not have howled at them first - so apparently we speak wolf). I have now decided I want a Reindeer Farm and a sanctuary for all other animals as well.
Now, we are in our new “home,” lounging for the evening. We still haven’t seen the Northern Lights, and I’m starting to fear we won’t. Even so, I’ve gotten to see nearly all of the animals that I had on my to-see wish list, so that’s still a plus in my book!