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My boyfriend and I got incredibly lucky and this trek turned out to be the highlight of our trip to Alaska, though our experience was a bit unique. We were originally set to hike with 5 other travelers, but when we met the guides in the morning they informed everyone that due to very poor weather conditions, we likely wouldn't make it to the glacier they offered everyone the option to cancel with a full refund. After a pretty convincing you-should-probably-cancel pitch from one of the guides, who we think may have been exaggerating a bit the other 5 travelers canceled and we ended up with a de-facto private tour with another guide Madisyn, who was awesome and just as gung-ho as we were to attempt the climb despite the torrential rain.
Madisyn did so much to make our trip great and get us onto the glacier despite the earlier warnings that it was perhaps inaccessible. She thought to bring waterproof boots, which made it possible for us to hike through the flooded terrain. We never would have made it in sneakers or even hiking boots... we were literally hiking through 8-9 inches of flowing water at times. She was friendly and helpful, and really made the extra-wet adventure fun. She even brought hot chocolate for us, which was a fantastic touch.
After a couple of hours spent hopping across quick-running streams and scampering up slick rocky terrain, we reached the glacier and ice caves underneath, both of which were stunning. Madisyn plus other guides from the company who had hiked earlier to scout the area worked to find an alternative way for us to get onto the glacier, since the river between the trail and the access point was flooded. We were eventually able to explore the ice caves and climb the glacier itself, and while the micro-spikes we strapped onto our boots took a little getting used to, the gear all worked fantastically on top of the ice.
We really couldn't believe how lucky we got -- not only were we able to complete the whole hike in surreal and wild conditions and walk on the glacier itself, but we practically got the whole mountain to ourselves because so many other tours were cancelled due to the weather. Madisyn was instrumental in making this happen, and she was super fun to hike with. Our trip may not have been 100 representative of the larger group tour that it should have been, but we definitely got the impression that Above and Beyond Alaska works hard to make their treks fantastic for their clients, and we were so glad we didn't miss this.
I was actually super excited for this excursion after reading the reviews and especially after hiking on a glacier earlier in my trip. I would have given this review more stars if it was advertised as a Hike and possible glacier viewing because that would have been accurate. 90 of this trip was spent hiking through the woods to get to the glacier, and according to our guides some groups don't even make it that far depending on the fitness levels of the group. From the description I was expecting a glacier trek AND climb and in reality we stepped on the glacier for all of 20 minutes. Meanwhile we spent 6 hours on a hike which was a GREAT hike but when you are expecting the trek and climb on glaciers durng an 8 hour excursion expectations are to be on a glacier. I guess if the glacier wasn't receding so fast over the years we may have gotten there sooner and had more time to explore the glacier. I understand there isn't much a tour can do about global warming effects, but the title of the excursion needs to be changed to provide a more accurate expectation. This was definitely a mountainess hike, not a glacier trek and climb.
This excursion was probably the best I have ever done on any cruise and I completed it with my wife on our honeymoon. Our tour guides were Kit and Casey and they were awesome! We really got to experience everything throughout the 8 mile hike including the rainforest, the Mendenhall glacier, and even got to go inside of an ice cave. My only recommendation is that you definitely have to be in pretty good shape as you truly do scale walls, climb down rough terrain, and scale the glacier throughout the advanced hike. You get all of the necessary equipment provided i.e. raingear, backpack, harness, walking stick, and spikes for your shoes and they give you plenty of snacks and water. I would recommend this excursion highly as it is WELL worth the price! Thanks so much for an awesome time and memorable experience!
Fantastic experience as we hiked, trekked and climbed on all 4! Day was approx. 8 hours and lunch/snacks were provided along the way. I would recommend wearing layers as you cross various terrains and are presented with different weather conditions. Good hiking shoes is definite! I had a blast and took with me my sportif brother and 60 year old uncle who is in reasonable shape - he had a walking stick to assist him.
This hiking tour was fantastic. Our guide Brad was so knowledgeable and helpful for this difficult hike. The company gives you snacks for the trip and gets you rain gear and equipment so all you need is good hiking boots and maybe some gloves if its cold. The ice cave was truly a surreal experience and won't be open for many more years because the glacier is receding. Book this trip while you still can!
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