Hike to Harding Icefield

Jun 12th, 2006, 11:29 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2006
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Hike to Harding Icefield

My husband and I are travelling to Alaska during the last 2 weeks of July. Very excited! We really want to hike to the top of the Harding Icefield. We've heard it's spectacular. But I'm worried that it may be a bit too strenuous. We're in what I'd call "reasonably good shape". We did what might be a comparable hike a few years ago--to the top of Mt. Dana in Yosemite. It was a 3000 foot gain in altitude--6 miles roundtrip. And it was a bit too difficult for us. We were way too tired at the end. But, one difference is that the starting point was at 10,000 ft. and we hiked up to 13,000 ft. I'm hoping that the altitude difference makes the Harding Icefield a bit easier. Also, I'd say the last mile and a half was scrambling over huge rocks. Very tiring. I've heard there's initial climbing on the Harding Icefield hike. How difficult is it? Any input that anybody has would be much appreciated.!
caligirl56 is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 11:38 AM
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The altitude makes a huge difference---going from 10,000 feet up to 13,000 feet is very difficult even if you are in great shape, unless you are fully acclimated to the altitude. And even then it's tough!

How high is the Harding Icefield hike? Do you know what the elevation gain is?
enzian is offline  
Jun 12th, 2006, 11:46 AM
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Caligirl, I just checked it out on Google. Can't get the starting elevation, but several guides report it as a round-trip hike of from 7.7 to 9 miles; all agree that the elevation gain is 3000'. But as it is near Seward and the ocean, it must start at a low elvation. So I don't think it would be nearly as challenging for you as the Mt. Dana hike (which, BTW, I'm hoping to do this summer).

So go and have a great time---just don't forget the mosquito repellant (that applies to wherever you go in Alaska, except where it is windy).
enzian is offline  
Jun 13th, 2006, 10:15 AM
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Thanks for the encouragement. The Harding Icefield hike starts just a bit above sea level--so hopefully that will make a huge difference. I remember even thinking that my muscles got tired sooner than they should have (on Mt. Dana)--but I guess low oxygen levels can effect them too.

Thanks for the heads up about the mosquitos. I have a hard time remembering that we'll need repellent even when we're near the coast.

Enjoy your hike up Mt. Dana. The views are breathtaking. There is a flower called the Sky Pilot that you may see growing among the rocks up there. It is fairly rare--only grows at extremely high elevations.
caligirl56 is offline  
Jun 13th, 2006, 10:32 AM
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Hi caligirl,

yes, I remember the Sky Pilot, and how lovely it is---I think it only grows above 10,000 feet or so. I have actually been up there (Mt. Dana) before, many years ago in a Yosemite Institute alpine botany class. I'm looking forward to returning. We will be camping in Tuolumne for 5 nights and doing day hikes from there.

As for mosquitoes near the coast (in Alaska), my son and his girlfriend were up there last summer and had to wear their headnets even while camping right on the beach. They did escape them in the kayaks, if they went far enough out.

Some years they are not so bad, though; hopefully you will hit a "good" year. I lived up there for nine years and couldn't stand to use DEET; I preferred to wear tightly-woven long-sleeve shirts, and a hat. They still buzz around your face, though, and I was too vain for a headnet!

Enjoy your trip to Alaska. My son loved it so much he called from Homer and said he was never coming home! It's that kind of place. He actually did come home, but now he's scheming to go back.
enzian is offline  
Jun 26th, 2006, 05:11 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 283
We visited Exit Glacier in mid-July last year. We didn't have a problem with mosquitos but did wear our Bug-Off clothing (the nylon zip-leg pants are great). We encourage everyone to hike any portion they can...we didn't make it to the Icefield but loved what we did. The views are spectacular and most of the trail is not too rugged. That hike was one of the highlights of our trip.
Lina is offline  

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