Thursday, September 9, 2010

Hike to Kennecott Glacier

No hiking for me for a while with my foot still recovering, so I might as well try to finish my Alaska posts in the next few days.

September 9 (Kennecott). As part of our package deal for staying three nights at the lodge, we got a guided tour of the old copper mill and a guided hike half-day hike on Kennecott Glacier.

This morning, it was our last chance to do the glacier hike, so we did, despite a cold and steady rain. Our guide gave us each a pair of crampons for walking on the ice, and showed us how to put them on over our boots, and we stepped out, heading for the glacier two trail miles away. The rain drummed down on us, and we had to step through huge puddles that almost formed ponds across the trail. Very shortly, our boots were soaked, and under our rain gear, our clothes became wet as well from sweat. I finally unzipped my jacket to cool off and got soaked by the rain.

The trail was fairly level at first, but dropped steeply for the last half mile after a difficult stream crossing. The rain beat down on us, and we stepped over a very large, very fresh pile of bear scat. About 200 meters from the glacier, Mary looked back behind us up the trail and told me that this hike was beyond her abilities in these conditions and that she was going back. She felt like if she spent another two hours in crampons climbing all over the glacier, she would not have enough strength to make the hike back.

So I told her to hang on for a sec, and I went ahead and caught up the guide and told him we were turning back. I gave him a tip for leading us this far, and he was very appreciative and offered to take our crampons for us - no argument from me. I stepped onto the rock-covered portion of the glacier so I could at least say I had walked on one for a little bit, then went back to catch up to Mary, who had started hiking out. It would have been cool to continue but I didn't want her hiking out by herself. We got back to the room and took hot showers - every item of clothing we each had was totally soaked through. We spent a relaxing afternoon reading in the lounge, and then when the rain finally stopped, we took a walk to visit some of the mill buildings I had not been able to see because of my hike up to Bonanza Mine. We also finally got to see some of the great scenery the area has to offer later that day, because the clouds partially cleared up.

I only took a few photos during the hike because of the steady rain. Here is part of our little group at a short pit stop break on the way to the glacier.

Here is a view of the glacier from about where we turned back.

I walked on to the rock covered part of the glacier and snapped a photo of an area that was melting.

Kennecott Glacier from a distance along the trail.


  1. I've just come from your other blog from reading about your foot. Slowly but surely you will be back walking again.
    It must be frustrating not being able to walk or hike.

  2. Yep, thanks for the encouragement, Karen. I know as well that time is the best healer of all things. And I believe that ultimately, the surgery will mean better hiking, walking, and running for me. Art