Woke up on land for the first time in a week, and lucky us to be in Seward. It’s a tiny town with huge links to the water, fishing and the fjords. The Alaska SeaLife Center is a wonderful place at one end of the mile-long, four-block wide city. It’s both a research and educational center funded through Exxon Valdez reparation money. An exhibit shows how the effects of the disaster are still being felt today. We spent a couple of hours totally engrossed in the exhibits, talks, the animals and fish, and peeks into the research and rehabilitation areas. Could have spent the entire day.
But, we had to find the shuttle that would take us to a guided ranger walk to Exit Glacier, a few miles down the road.
The shuttle took us the six miles to the Exit Glacier Nature Center just in time for the ranger walk. The volunteer who led us had a library’s-worth of knowledge about this local ecosystem and glacier activity in general.
From the first overlook to Exit Glacier. We asked why it was called, “Exit”. In 1968 the first mountaineering party to succeed in crossing the immense Harding Ice Field (that feeds the Exit Glacier among many others) used this glacier to exit. Pretty basic, but thus the name.
The valley left by the retreat of the glacier is covered by the layer of silt and pebbles carried by this glacial runoff “river”. the water is so full of ground up minerals at this point that it can’t support any animal life.
We make it just to the end of the trail at the toe of the glacier, but the park volunteer had spent so much time giving interesting information that we couldn’t linger (as we would have liked) since our return shuttle was waiting. (Missing that we might have missed our train).
So we stored this amazing sight in our mind’s eye and walked quickly back thinking about how alarmingly this glacier (and most of the others) has been receding over the last two decades. The message is becoming very, very clear that global warming is happening, and is being enhanced by human activity. It’s up to all of us to reduce our contribution to it.