Glaciers: now you see them, now you don’t

As the rest of the world makes plans to relax on tropical beaches this summer, those of us who live at them are way more than ready to trade with you. Within spitting distance of the equator is no place to be in July or August, unless you really love humidity. I typically escape to the mountains, especially on the US west coast. Two years ago I explored Kenai Fjords National Park in Alaska. It looks like this:

Kenai Fjords NP

and also this:

Kenai Fjords NP

Or rather, it did in 2015. It seems the glaciers are retreating, especially one of the park’s most popular attractions: Exit Glacier. Back in the day, it’s popularity was due to the fact that you could walk right up and touch it. Not so much here in the 21st century.

The closest that visitors are officially allowed is a viewing platform that was about 20 yards off at the time and is farther away now. The platform hasn’t moved; the glacier is retreating at an alarming rate. 182 feet in 2013. In 2014, 137 feet. If the rate of 100+ feet per year continues, it will disappear in about a decade.

It was originally thought that the accelerated pace of melting was due to people continually pawing at it. Now it’s attributed to climate change, of course. Although people using it as their personal frozen water slide probably didn’t help.

Kenai Fjords NP
Exit Glacier (very) close up. Best not ask how I got this shot.

If hiking around on icefields and getting up close with glaciers is on your bucket list, I highly recommend you go see them while they still exist.

Kenai Fjords National Park is easy to get to: fly into Anchorage, rent a car, drive to the friendly town of Seward. This will be your base.

From there you get two options:

By sea: Hop on any of the day-long boat excursions to get stunning views of the park’s coastline and the bonus of sea lions, otters and whales along the way. By land: drive in and explore on your own via dozens of hiking trails. The land-based wildlife includes bears, so ya know… be careful. No one wants to be that idiot who died while trying to take a selfie with a bear. Alaska wildlife don’t play.

I’ve posted a whole lot more photos in the project aptly named Kenai Fjords National Park. If landscapes that are majestic AF are your thing, perhaps check it out.