One of our favorite things to do as a family would have to be hiking. It's an excellent way to embrace nature and grow as a family. It seems that we learn something new every time we venture out together. Albeit, this time we learned we don't own enough items to keep us warm, but it was still an amazing adventure.
We started our day driving down the Cook Inlet to venture through Girdwood, Alaska, the gateway to Alyeska. We stopped briefly in Girdwood for ice cream at one our favorites, aptly named, "The Ice Cream Shop". The girls ate one scoop of the cotton candy ice cream, Kris had a local favorite called Fireweed and Honey (OMG it was to die for) and I ate the rainbow sorbet. It was a good starting point for our adventure.
After enjoying our sweet treat we drove a little further to Portage Glacier located in the Portage Valley. And let me tell you, don't expect to see a towering glacier stare you down while you park along the frozen lake in winter. It is a good two and a half mile hike, maybe three. The lake takes a sharp right turn and continues further for about a half mile before it ends at the glacier.
We all geared up in what we thought would be warm enough garb, to include ice cleats for Kris and I, skis and boots for Skyley (7) and hand warmers and a sled for Saylor (4) and Searsha (18 months). Mind you we each had 2-3 layers of clothing on including snow jackets! After traversing onto the frozen lake we made our way towards the mountains stopping periodically for breaks and snacks. We were swallowed by the expansive views and in awe by the shear magnitude of what we were doing. We were hiking on a frozen lake in the middle of winter to see a glacier. It was hard to comprehend at the time.
We stepped over crack after crack on the lake. At one point we stopped to admire a crack wide enough to lose a cell phone in (if it fell just right). The blue ice beneath us only served to excite us for the hues we might see once we reached the glacier. We were having fun traveling through snowy patches of lake and cautiously walking over the slick ice exposed. After we hit the 2.5 mile point finally began to see the Glacier towards the right and followed the curve of the lake.
At the glacier, we couldn't even began to perceive the shear size and hues of blue that we saw. It truly was a sight that we will look back on for years to come. We sat and admired. We ate more snacks and re-hydrated. After 20 or so minutes we decided to head back (we were insanely cold). We pulled fresh hand warmers from our pack and loaded them into our socks and gloves.
The way back definitely seemed to take longer. The girls were expressing their concern that we were stranded and would surely succumb to the cold and be eaten by a wolf. This thought was as funny as it was encouraging. We couldn't help but laugh at this thought Skyley had drafted. We laughed and continued the return hike. By this time of day it was 4pm and 15 degrees on the lake(the wind chill didn't help). I wont lie... the way back was miserable!!! We didn't stop to have a snack or re-hydrate, we walked and skied as quick as we could with nothing more than the though of a warm car!
We made it back to the car, tore all of our gear off and made a deal with the girls that we wouldn't hike in the winter again until we found warmer stuff! But that wasn't our biggest folly, no our biggest was that we didn't get a family picture!