harding icefield trail turn back point
August 17, 2012 7:46 PM   Subscribe

How far along Alaska's Harding Icefield trail did I get?

When I was in Alaska in June 2011, I went to Kenai Fjords National Park. I visited the Exit Glacier and hiked part way up the Harding Icefield trail by myself. I turned back at a spot where a stream crossed the trail. Going further on the trail would've required stepping into the stream, potentially slipping on the rocks or logs in the water (and the stream outlet to my left over a cliff was not protected in any way), or jumping over the stream (which seemed very risky). Since it was already late afternoon/early evening, and there was the potential that the stream's water volume could increase and be even more challenging on the way back, I decided that would be my stopping point.

Looking through my photos from the trip, I haven't found a photo of that exact section of the trail. I see on my photo of the informational sign about the trail that, at 0.6 miles up the trail, there's supposed to be a bridge. What does the bridge look like?

Does anyone know this trail well enough to tell me how far up the trail this stream crossing is? Is there a detailed map of the trail somewhere? It seemed like I spent as many as 30 minutes descending at a casual pace.
posted by germdisco to Science & Nature (6 answers total)
I just did this trail in June of this year. Had you crossed a plank-bridge with two planks, and a greenish rope tied around it in a crisscross pattern along the whole length? I recall that bridge, and could probably bug my boyfriend about where it is, if you remember crossing it. He might have a picture too..

Also, did you get to a section of the trail that was totally snow covered? Snow cover varies by year, but if we find someone who knows the coverage when you were there...

Alternatively here is the NPS website about the trail. Complete with map.
posted by nat at 8:53 PM on August 17, 2012

The cliff section is about half way up and I'm guessing from your description that's where you were. I don't recall any big creeks in that section but I've never been up there in rain or at high water or anything.
posted by fshgrl at 10:29 PM on August 17, 2012

Thanks for your responses!

nat: the stream might have had planks that were submerged, but I don't recall a rope. I didn't see any snow on the trail. Is this the bridge?

fshgrl: On the trail map linked above, I see that it zigs and zags in the cliffs section, but I don't recall encountering that section of trail.
posted by germdisco at 1:05 PM on August 18, 2012

Also, I'm going to use the contact form on the nps.gov page for Kenai Fjords National Park to see what they can tell me.
posted by germdisco at 6:47 PM on August 18, 2012

Yes, that's the same bridge. I'm pretty sure that's the bridge marked on the map, too; my bf and I couldn't recall any others on that trail.
posted by nat at 11:37 PM on August 18, 2012

I got a response from an NPS park ranger who said that the stream I encountered was just before the bridge at the 0.8-mile point of the trail. I couldn't see the bridge from where I was but it must have been just around the next bend or so. Thanks, folks!
posted by germdisco at 3:09 AM on August 25, 2012

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