The Kenai Peninsula comes alive during summer. Tourists, fishermen, seasonal workers and year-round residents share highways and harbors from Homer to Seward. ADN's Tegan Hanlon and Marc Lester recently spent a week meeting some of the people who make the Peninsula unique. Here are some of their stories.
SEWARD — Anchorage resident Rachel Andrews hiked with her daughter, 1-year-old Clara, strapped in a baby carrier to an overlook at Kenai Fjords National Park. She wanted to show the retreating Exit Glacier to friends visiting from Arizona — and to her baby.
"It's important to us that she sees things like glaciers," Andrews said.
Exit Glacier is a finger of blue and white ice that spills out of the Harding Icefield. Signs along the trail mark where the glacier once ended. It has become an icon of climate change.
"It's retreated even in a year," Andrews said, reminiscing about the last time she and her husband walked the trail that leads to the expansive view of the glacier and the barren rocky landscape just beyond its terminus.
"It's so awe-inspiring because it's this massive bit of ice," she said. "And, we were discussing, it's funny because it's flowing forward but at the same time it's melting and retreating. That's a weird juxtaposition, I guess, to think of it going forward and moving backward at the same time."
Then came the unexpected.
As the group chatted, Clara, who reached her first summit in a baby carrier at 2 months old, decided to take her first long stand. She held on to a piece of wood that, for this occasion, moonlighted as a baby-sized walking stick. She wore pink sunglasses. A puffy, white snowsuit enveloped her tiny body.
"This is her first time standing," said family friend Joanne Singleton, who lives in Anchorage. "Wow!"
"Are you going to walk? Come here," cooed Andrews.
After about a minute, baby Clara toppled to her knees.
"Good job," Singleton cheered. "High-five!"
Singleton suggested they come back in 20 or so years and take Clara's photograph in front of the glacier, in the same spot where she stood up. Then she paused. Well, she added, maybe that'd be too sad.
"It's receding so quickly," she said.