Into the Wild

Alaska's Exit Glacier Trail: a scenic hike thousands of miles from L.A. both literally and figuratively

Sorry about the blog blackout, but I just got back from a family vacation to Alaska. My first trip to the land of Denali, fjords and tundra didn’t disappoint. I’ve dreamed of going to Alaska since my fifth-grade report on Seward’s Folly.

I went on my first cruise (as painful as I thought, but we saw incredible wildlife and glaciers) and visited Glacier Bay National Park. The naturalist on board struggled to provide a reason for glacial recession. I guess climate change hasn’t quite infiltrated the cruise ship spiel the same way as Bingo Night and Oktoberfest promotions.

On the cruise excursions to Ketchikan (site of the proposed bridge to nowhere!), Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and College Fjord we saw grizzlies eating coho and black bear gobbling sockeye at salmon runs, numerous bald eagles, Steller’s sea lions and sea nettles (kayaking). We also witnessed a dozen humpback whales, including six feasting on salmon at a current convergence.

After the cruise, we drove up to Denali to hike (right near the site of the McCandless tragedy from “Into the Wild”) and saw moose, caribou and the epic summit peaking out above the clouds. Then we drove down to Seward, where we hiked the Exit Glacier trail to the Harding Ice Field, one of the most visually stunning hikes in the country (right up there with Half Dome and Angel’s Landing in Zion). On a whale watch excursion, we saw a pod of orcas, Dall’s porpoises, a sea otter scarfing down a Dungeness crab, and tufted and horned puffin rookeries.  

The trip to Alaska lived up to the hype. The state’s beauty is truly unparalleled.

Sharing the extraordinary wildlife, glaciers and majestic peaks with my family marked a welcome respite from the stresses of dealing with AB 1998 as well as the DWP’s attempts to weaken the State Water Board-approved Once Through Cooling policy for power plants and other issues. Somehow, these battles and more found me in some of the most remote areas of Alaska. Tough to recharge your batteries when their constantly getting drained — even in Denali, Kenai Fjords and Glacier Bay.  Curse you Blackberry!

I’ll touch on these issues and others in the coming week, including a Santa Monica ballot proposal that shed a disturbing light on freedom-of-speech issues.

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  1. […] http://spoutingoff.wordpress.com/2010/08/23/into-the-wild/Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay and College Fjord we saw grizzlies eating coho and black bear gobbling sockeye at salmon runs, numerous bald eagles, Steller’s sea lions and sea nettles (kayaking). We also witnessed a dozen humpback whales, … […]

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