[Alaska] Day 3: Harding Ice Trail (A MUST DO)
This is hands down my favorite hike to date! There is nothing around the Bay Area that is remotely as beautiful, fun, tiring, and picturesque as the Harding Ice Tril. No pictures or videos will do it justice! If you are in Alaska, this is a must do hike. It's a round trip 8.3 mile hike that will take about 6-8 hours depending on your speed and how long you spend awing over the view at the top. So plan your day accordingly because you probably won't be doing much else afterward besides rewarding yourself with a delicious meal and some booze. Hey, you didn't hike all those inclines and burned all those calories for nothing!
We heading out around 11 and drove about .5 miles from our campsite to the parking lot but it was completely full so we drove back and just to our site and walked there instead so I guess our entire hike would be around 9 miles. Fill up your water bottles on the ground because there aren't any places at along the way to do so. Also use the bathroom while you can and pack snacks and lunch! We each brought a lot of layers with use because the hike changes in elevation, climates, weather, etc. so you need to be prepared for everything! Don't forget the sunscreen and hats either! Good hiking boots is strongly recommended!! My friend did the hike in her running shoes and boy was it a nightmare. I mean, it was very do-able but your feet will get soaked walking through the snow and when hiking different inclines and such, having good grip at the bottom of the shoes will come in very handy.
The good thing about this hike was that it wasn't that crowded but also I guess only brave souls (or maybe foolish) would commit the 8 hours for the trip. Don't get me wrong, there were still a good amount of people doing the hike but most stopped at the first outlook and didn't attempt the snow hike. And also less bugs, thank the lord! The first stop is gorgeous but making it to the very top is a whole other story. The two views are very different (I will have pictures to show)! One is more of a grassy, plains view and the other is of perfectly white snow.
The first part of the hike was like going through a jungle. There were trees everywhere, water running along side us. We had to jump over a couple water trails and across bridges. The second part was more out in the open and on rocks. They aren't like the dangerous sliding rocks that we experienced at Mount Marathon but it did help to have grip on your shoes to make those inclines easier (glutes workout). And the best part was hiking through the snow! It was pretty scary at first because the hill was pretty steep and we didn't know how we were going to get down but we took it slow following the foot steps of the people in front of us. It was packed snow so not too bad! There were some really slippery parts though and all you wanted to do was slide along the snow haha.
On our way up, we saw a group of older Chinese hikers who on their way down decided to just slide down the mountain on the butts. It looked SO FUN! How could NOT do it? Anyway, we continue our trek up the snow packed hill and my god I could not believe what I was seeing. Everything around me was absolutely white and beautiful. I can't even describe how amazing it was to be up there. By this time, Melissa's shoes and socks were completely soaked. We ended up at the top and wish we had brought beers with us haha but it's okay, which means we would have them when we got to the bottom.
We packed pb&j sandwiches which we eagerly dug into at the top. I never eat them but boy were they delicious! We stayed at the top for about 45 minutes or so. Took tons of pictures, ate, and just enjoyed the view. It was getting a bit windy and chilly at the top and we knew we still had a long way down. We weren't afraid of it getting dark because it never does.
Like the previous group, when we got to the steep hillside, we got on our butts (pretty scared at first) and slide down the mountain. It was SO MUCH FUN!! It's like sledding just without the sled and some wet butts. We probably cut our hike down by like 30 minutes. We tried to slide down a few other smaller hills but it wasn't as fun since the first one already had a path made for us. We all took turn eating shit hiking down. The videos are hilarious!!
We got down at around 7pm. We drove into downtown Seward again for dinner. After we hit up this bar for some much needed drinks. We started talking to this older couple who met would at AA... and now they are sitting at the bar drinking. When they told me that, I blurted out "I guess it didn't work so well" LOL whoops my bad... But they were so much fun! They said "after having so many kids, you just need a drink" and they kept forcing us to talk to this younger guy, he was 24, who just moved there for the Coast Guard. Then they left us because they "didn't want to be too drunk biking back." They were so precious! I ended up talking to the guy for awhile and somehow told him that we hadn't showed in 3 days and he offered his place for us to shower. I know it seems weird but he was so nice!
Around 11:30pm, we head back to our campsite for another night sleeping under the stars. Well I guess not stars since the sun never goes down haha.