Mountain Goats, Snowmen, and Hoary Marmots: The Harding Icefield Trail

On Tuesday a group of AWCC interns invited me to join them for the hike of a lifetime along the Harding Icefield Trail. We camped on Kenai Lake the night before with a bonfire and s’mores, and sleeping in the back of my little PT was surprisingly comfortable! The next day, Monday’s beautiful aqua mountains falling into the ocean transformed into alpine meadows and panoramic icy Exit Glacier vistas. Over the course of five hours, we climbed four miles and nearly 3,000 feet! The view at the summit is impossible to describe though words or imagery, and the six of us spent about half an hour up there huddled in silence.

I thought about Star, as this is the first summer I’m missing the island after eight years of attending a moving weeklong Unitarian Universalist youth conference. I grew up with raspberry lime rickies, Women’s Group, sunsets at the Summer House, the YRUU-Pel softball game, polar bear swims, star gazing on East Rock, rocking chairs, midnight foghorns, rainbow laundry, worships, and the Barge Song. Last summer my Star sister Sarah D’Alessandro and I finally “aged out” of our conference after meeting on the dock in Portsmouth when I was only fourteen. Our leave symbolized a quiet exit from childhood and entrance into young adulthood, and I was thrilled to feel a sense of completion and bliss. I’m happy and grateful for Star’s loving community, memories, realizations, celebrations, strength, confidence, and growth. Throughout high school and college, this last week of June was always my favorite— a time for rejuvenation, perspective, and new beginnings. Well, this year during Star week I sat atop a new Alaskan mountain— an island amidst an icefield— and Star was with me. Blessed be.

Another two and half hours brought us back down (with both mountain goat and hoary marmot sightings!), and by the end my left IT band was ready to dislodge itself from my knee. What better way to top off a magnificent day with new friends than a three-hour sing-along home to Elvis, MJ, the Backstreet Boys, No Doubt, and Britney?

[NOTE: Group photos are on another camera… hopefully I’ll be able to post them soon!]

In front of Exit Glacier

In front of Exit Glacier

At times a little chilly!

At times a little chilly!

Bellissima

Bellissima

Contentissima

Contentissima

Harding Icefield

Harding Icefield

Summit!

Summit!

Can you see the crevasses in Exit Glacier?

Can you see the crevasses in Exit Glacier?

We all made tiny snowmen!

We all made tiny snowmen!

Beauty on the downhill trek

Beauty on the downhill trek

Exit Glacier illuminated in late afternoon sun

Exit Glacier illuminated in late afternoon sun

Alpine meadows

Alpine meadows

Double waterfalls!

Double waterfalls!

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