Last REAL day in Alaska - everyone else is heading home.. and things to the CHEAP part of me, Mom, Dad and the girls and I are staying ONE more day. The mix up and the fact that Butch went back a day prior is due to his use of sky miles to get there.
We headed out to Seward to the Alaska Sea Life Center (http://www.alaskasealife.org) It was small but very nice and you were able to touch a lot of the soft corals, and the star fish. The downside? They pipe the water in from the bay at about 200' down and 45 FREEZING degrees, so no-one keeps their fingers in long. The anemones were cool - they would stick to you for a brief second before loosing grip. Fun stuff for even the diver in me. I like to touch things and in diving, you wear gloves!
After the Sea Life Center, we dropped by Exit Glacier. We didn't think we would hike to it, but they said it was an "easy" 1.5 mile round trip hike. Well, they were half way right. It was VERY easy for young girls with me, fairly easy for 46 year old me, and VERY hard for 70+ parents. Dad and Mom were fussing on the way up, which lead to a mishap with dad. Mostly because Dad didn't really have his land legs back after a week on the water every day. All was well, but one little step off the trail on his part lead to about 10 years coming OFF of mine, thank you very much. Sigh. BUT - stubborn man (and I say that with a lot of love and admiration) made it to the TOP! Mom quit about 20 vertical steps from the top and a lot of loose rock and a lot of "stair" action.
The view from the road looking at the wash plain where the water is melting from the glacier.
believe it or no, we are 90% of the way there at this point - the little trail you see in the back ground is just about the final hump to the overlook where we stopped.
The overlook. The girls went just a bit farther up - about 1/3 down the picture on the right - there was a little overlook there too - you were not to go to the edge of the glacier as the rock was VERY loose and the ice is melting from the bottom, therefore you can literally slip UNDER the glacier in a worse case scenario. Not good. There were some fools going under the ropes and scrambling down loose shale rock to the edge of it just so they could "touch" ... just glad they are still alive!
Streams of water flowing from the top of the glacier... and the deep blue of it. This one didn't CRACK very much... I just heard ONE as we were coming up to it and let me tell you - the wind coming off was FREEZING which for the first few minutes feels good, then it gets downright cold. This is such a drastic change from the hike up where you are positively WARM for the first time on the trip! We did see clouds of mosquito's, however, none of us were bitten. On the way back DOWN the trail, I had my hoodie off flopping it around to shoo away the little buggers!
Liz's picture from the edge... she went to the "end" of where they could go...
you can see a bit of the gaping at the sides.
Then we headed down. Dad gave me ONE more start on a step - his heel caught and he stumbled towards the edge, another three years gone! I grabbed his side and refused to let go of his hoodie until we were OFF the steps - good thing as there was one more heel catch. Goodness... I'm too old to loose that many years! Liz went ahead to check on mom who we had (this sounds horrible) left on the side of the trail. No, really, we left her sitting on a step and continued on. Well, she had gotten the wise idea to head down. Liz got to where she had been and NO grandma. She got a little rattled, so I asked someone coming UP the trail if they had seen her. They described her and said that she was heading down slowly and doing well. She was asking each passing person to help her over the rough parts (good thinking on her part) and making her way away from the pesky bugs.
Liz finally caught up with Mom and we finally caught up with the two of them. THEN we found out that Liz had fallen as well - she had been running and hopping down the trail, but it wasn't until she slowed to a walk that she tripped and skinned both knees! Good thing I wasn't there to fret over her too, eh? ha! So - no more hiking for Grandpa OR Liz for a while :o)
What and adventure!!
I would have taken a picture of the part of the trail that dad experienced "up close and personal" however, when it happened, we just wanted to know he was OK and not hurt. On the way back, Liz had my camera, so opportunity missed for that picture.
However, I did get a good wildflower picture on the way to the car!