Bear Glacier - Kenai Fjords National Park

Feb 10, 2013
In September of 2013 we made our first trip to Alaska. We arrived in Anchorage and drove down to Seward in a rental RV. Our plan for the first full day was to hike Exit Glacier up to the Harding Ice Field, but the weather called for rain and fog all day, which would defeat the purpose of hiking to the ice field overlook. So, rather than write off the whole day we decided to take a half-day helicopter / kayaking trip to Bear Glacier. It was rather pricey, but since this could be a once in a lifetime trip, we decided to go for it.

I called the company, Adventure 60 North, and within an hour the owner picked us up in the company van to deliver us to the Seward airport. From there we flew by helicopter southwest over Seward, then down Resurrection Bay for a few miles before turning west to go over the mountains to the bay created by Bear Glacier's terminal moraine. Bear Glacier is quite impressive. It is around 14 miles long and more than a mile wide. About 150 feet of the glacier is above the water line and several hundred feet are below. At some time, probably hundreds of years ago, Bear Glacier dumped into Resurrection Bay. However, as it began to recede it left behind a terminal moraine that completely cut the glacier off from the bay. As it receded further, the glacier created a deep lake behind the moraine. Icebergs calving off the glacier could float in the lake for years, without being broken up by the sea currents in the bay. The lake is now 4-5 miles long, very deep and calm, and teeming with large and small icebergs. Perfect for exploring by kayak. Our group was rather small, a total of 8 plus a guide (One of our group was a guy who owns an adventure travel company on Lake Powell). We hopped into the kayaks and headed off toward the glacier.

The view from the Seward airport.
Downtown Seward, Alaska.10.jpg
Resurrection Bay.
It was pretty cool to fly low over a mountain-top glacier.

But it was awesome to crest the mountain and see Bear Glacier 3,000 feet below.31.jpg

The helicopter only carried 3 (plus the pilot) at a time. Fortunately we were the last group, so we did not have to wait. There were lots of biting horseflies along the shore, so we were happy that we did not have to wait there for anyone else.

Nice view of the glacier, about 3 miles away, and the mountains shooting 3-4,000 feet almost straight up out of the water.

Icebergs large and small all the way to the glacier.


Similar to clouds, when viewed form various angles, the icebergs can resemble living things. We thought the one on the left looked like a whale breaching the surface and extending a fin.

A group of leaping porpoises.802.jpg

A Loch Ness Monster.

Some of them looked like beautiful abstract sculptures.
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We were told that the blue hue is the result of algae in the ice. Whatever it is, it's gorgeous.

Of course, the main event was the glacier itself. I couldn't capture it in any satisfactory way. It was simply awe-inspiring. We stopped for a snack on a lateral moraine, and I hiked up to the top to get some photos.

I don't know anything about glacier crossings, but this looks like it would be daunting.
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On the way back we came across several groups of seals lazing on ice flats. They didn't really care for our presence, but were reluctant to give up their comfy perch and slide into the water.731 (3).jpg

As we approached this iceberg, several seals bailed out, but this guy just wasn't going to abandon his post.
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Our obligatory selfie.

It was a fun and memorable day. Although the ceiling closed down to around 1,000 feet, we avoided any rain. We are hoping to plan a trip back to the area for a couple days or so kayaking on our own in the lake and surrounding area of the bay.

Our little video / slideshow of the trip:

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Alaska is like a whole 'nuther place. We are already trying to make plans to get back up there to do some more in-depth exploring. You just need to make the time to go. You will not be disappointed.
I don't know why, but Alaska is high on my bucket list...

Looking at these pics, I think I might know why.

I went once on a cruise ship. It was all expenses paid with a nice balcony room, so I can't complain. It was a nice taste, but it really just made me want to go back and stay the hell away from cruise ships. One of the trips where you take your own little boat out and whale watch and fish for halibut would really hit the spot for me right now.
Nice capture of Seward and the surrounding area. I loved Alaska when I was there and my dinner cruise out of Seward was awesome! At Exit Glacier is interesting to see how far the glacier has receded over the last 100 years or so.
This is absolutely amazing Tres! Thanks so much for posting this up. I think I'm catching a case of the Alaska fever too. It's added to my bucket list for sure now.
Fantastic trip. Stan and I have been to Alaska twice, and one of the best things we did was a 6 mile kayak around an island just off Homer Spit. The day cruise to Kenai Fjords was also high on our amazement list. Anyone who gets to Alaska should do those two things. I tried to upload a video we took from the Turnagain Arm but it said it didn't have the right extension (??? That's why I stick to still photos).
Awesome trip! My girlfriend was an ER nurse in the hospital in Seward it is a beautiful place. Definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. Everyone should make a trip to AK at least once i their lifetime.
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