This is a continuation of an interview with Warren and Mary Huss by Rachel Mason, Karen Brewster and Shannon Kovac on August 5, 2010 at their home in Seward, Alaska. In this interview, Warren and Mary talk about their hunting and snowmachine activities in the Exit Glacier area, changes in wildlife populations and changes in Seward since they moved there, and views about the establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park and how it should be managed.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Date of Interview: Aug 5, 2010
Narrator(s): Warren Huss, Mary Huss
Interviewer(s): Rachel Mason, Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
People Present: Shannon Kovac
After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.
Coyotes near Exit Glacier
Wolves near Exit Glacier
Herman Leirer's dream of a road to Exit Glacier
Snow machine bridges they used before the road
Lived in Labrador
Annual ski-meet in Exit Glacier
Appealing snow machine area
Pictures and changes in the glacier since 1971
The signs showing the glacier receeding as you enter the park
Changes in Seward since their arrival
Sub divisions built in Seward
Types of jobs in Seward
Impact of the park on their life
Current winter regulations in the park
Son's use of the Exit Glacier park
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After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.
WARREN HUSS: -- we used to go out at night and the coyotes would run and chase ptarmigan up and down the Resurrection River up towards Exit Glacier,
and so we'd go out and chase the coyotes at night with our snow machines.
You'd just get them in the headlights, and they kind of memorized -- mesmerize them and they keep trying to, you know, get away, and then they'll stop and turn, look at them, and we just keep following them with the snow machine. It was kind of a sport, I guess.
RACHEL MASON: And that would wear out the ptarmigan so that you could shoot them?
WARREN HUSS: Well, no, no. We'd just do it for a little while. It was kind of neat, you know, you'd see these -- you know, you'd get close to them, you'd slow down and let them get away a little bit,
but it wasn't a very nice for the thing, for the poor --
KAREN BREWSTER: I'd say it's interesting to note that there were coyotes out there.
WARREN HUSS: Oh, a lot of coyotes. Still a lot of coyotes out there.
And still wolves. I go out in the evening a lot of times on my snow machine, just go out and sit in the valley, and there's a couple places,
oh, almost to Exit Glacier where there's long straightaways and some ravines that come in from the -- it would be the north side, and you occasionally see a wolf out there.
Quite frequently see coyotes.
We were just out three, four years ago, during the middle of the day, and we were coming back down the riverbed right about halfway up to Exit Glacier,
and Mary all of a sudden ran up to the side and she said, "Did you realize you almost ran over a wolf?" And I said, "What?" And we -- I said, "No." She said, "Come on."
We turned around and went back, and we were right along the area where the -- the river had come up close to the road,
and we had snuck through between the road and the -- and the open river.
And I kind of looked over the bank and there about 50 feet from me is a nice, big, black wolf. RACHEL MASON: Wow.
WARREN HUSS: And he went over to the other side of the river valley real slow, just kept looking back at us.
MARY HUSS: They don't pay attention when they're driving.
RACHEL MASON: Have you noticed any changes around Exit Glacier and the numbers of wolves that there are around there?
WARREN HUSS: I think -- I don't know. You know, I haven't -- we go out Exit Glacier frequently to take guests out there and hike, and we oftentimes -- they have a little sign there that says, you know, what people spotted;
you know, a brown bear here or black bear, goats up in the side of the mountain.
And in recent years, I haven't seen anybody sighting any wolves up there. I think it's probably, even in the wintertime, I don't see wolf tracks up that valley in particular.
You see them out on the riverbed, you see the wolf tracks and you see them along the edge of the road, but you just can't see them.
I think maybe the snow might be too deep up there.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. And maybe just the sheer volume of visitors up there.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, although there isn't much in the wintertime.
KAREN BREWSTER: In the winter you can't get up there in this easily.
WARREN HUSS: So we can get out -- you get out there on a snow -- KAREN BREWSTER: A snow machine. But your average car tourist doesn't get out there.
WARREN HUSS: No. No, they close it down at the bridge just past the roadhouse so you really can't access that area other than snow machine and skiing.
There's a few people that ski out there, but not many ski all the way out to the -- to the visitors center.
But mostly there's a lot of skiing activity, but it's in the first five to eight miles, people ski up there. I go out and ski that quite frequently.
It's just a nice, level ski. The ski team at the high school uses it to practice.
And -- and it's just a real popular place. Weekends and even in the middle of the week, you go out there any time and hardly ever do you go out there in the wintertime without, you know, seeing a skier out on the -- on the trail.
And then a lot of kids snow machine out the Exit Glacier Road.
RACHEL MASON: Well, did Herman ever live to see his dream realized or -- WARREN HUSS: Oh, yeah, yeah. RACHEL MASON: -- making it into a tourist attraction?
WARREN HUSS: Not to the extent that it is now. I can't even remember what year Herman passed away, but -- MARY HUSS: Yeah.
WARREN HUSS: -- I know he was -- he was alive yet when the park was put in.
And the first thing we had was the foot bridge across the river.
And I can't remember where they got the bridge from; in fact, I was just going through these pictures, and I thought you were mainly interested in pre --
KAREN BREWSTER: Park. WARREN HUSS: -- pre park days. RACHEL MASON: Well, we are interested in that, but we want to know --
WARREN HUSS: But I've got some pictures, I could actually find them before you leave here, of when they dedicated that, the park opening the bridge.
Undersecretary of the Interior -- what was his name -- Hodel came up. MARY HUSS: Udall?
WARREN HUSS: No, not Udall. Hodel. He was -- this guy was Undersecretary or Assistant Secretary.
I think it was Undersecretary, his name was Hodel.
And I've got pictures of him -- RACHEL MASON: And he came up for the bridge dedication? WARREN HUSS: -- for the bridge dedication, yeah, he came up. He was -- you know, and I can't remember who -- he would have been under --
MARY HUSS: Dave? WARREN HUSS: No, no, no. No, no, he was Dave's -- he was Dave's ultimate boss in Washington, other than -- was that during Wally Hickel's administration? I can't even remember.
RACHEL MASON: I don't know. WARREN HUSS: Might have been under Wally. MARY HUSS: I think Herman was around, though, for getting all the way out to the glacier.
WARREN HUSS: With a -- with an improved road. Oh, yeah, he was around after that.
But I don't think -- I don't think he was here to see it paved all the way.
Of course, it wasn't paved all the way until about five, six years ago. RACHEL MASON: Really?
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. It was paved as far as the Forest Service boundary, that big pullout where the Forest Service boundary is, which is about Mile 7, I guess. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
WARREN HUSS: And it was paved to that point; and from there on, it was still a gravel road, but it was well improved.
They'd already rechanneled the river, they had these, what do you call it, riprap where they formed a thing to divert when the river overflows its banks,
it diverts it back out into the mid-channel to save the road. So the road doesn't get washed out nearly like it -- like it used to.
But Herman worked hard on that road, and he -- like I say, he was a real -- I think he was a visionary for the whole park there.
MARY HUSS: I think the road is technically named Herman Leirer -- KAREN BREWSTER: It is. RACHEL MASON: Yeah, at least the beginning part of it is. MARY HUSS: -- Yeah. RACHEL MASON: Interesting.
KAREN BREWSTER: Back to your bridges, I'm really curious about your bridges, your snow machine bridges, those were just to get across the different channels because, as you said, you were on the opposite side.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, usually we would find a place where we just had to cross it once.
And usually through the winter months, if we got across it, it would last -- you didn't want to build multiple bridges,
so we would find a spot where it was fairly deep, the river was fairly deep, but narrow enough that you could get one of these ladders or a tree across there, a couple trees.
Originally, like I said, we used to fall a couple trees, we'd drag them all the way out, a bunch of us, Gayle Albertson, he was an employee for the city and the water department,
great, big guy real strong, and we'd drag these trees out there and stand them up and drop them across,
and then take boards and pound boards across it and put the spruce boughs on it and drive the snow machine, you know, after a snowfall or two.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you put the bridges in, and then you hopefully kept using the same bridge all winter --
WARREN HUSS: We'd use the same bridge until spring, and in the spring, in the spring breakup, it would take --
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you see, that was my question. Did you go retrieve your ladders or --
WARREN HUSS: Oh, no, no, you could never find them. They'd get out in the river, they'd just get ground to bits, I'm sure.
Maybe the trees would have survived, I don't know, but no, we never went back and retrieved them. Never thought about --
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, were these ladders you built -- WARREN HUSS: Yeah, we built them. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, you build them first.
WARREN HUSS: That was, well, just -- it was like a ladder, it was across -- it was wider than a ladder because you had to have it wide enough to get a snow machine across, but we would build those.
Actually, that came from an idea of mine in Labrador, we talked about trying to get across there, and like I say, we used trees, then when I was in Goose Bay, Labrador,
I used to pull what was called a komatik behind the snow machine, and we'd go out on the ice cap and we'd go seal hunting.
And the ice leads would open up on Caratin Basin and Reglet Inlet, so you would get these cracks that would go for miles and miles across the saltwater in the basin,
and you'd take your sled, and it was made of wood, it was called a komatik, and you'd slide it over, and it had runners on the bottom, then you'd just flip it over, but they were wide enough that you could drive a snow machine across them.
So you'd -- you'd float them across. We had hooks up on the ends of the points of the front of the sled, and a little metal shoe that had a little point on it, so then you'd just tip it up,
catch it in the ice, and flip it over, drive across, and then drive your snow machine across carrying your barrels of fuel, your tent and everything, cross, get on the other side, hook up your snow machine,
pull the -- pull the komatik off, and it was basically a ladder that you used as a bridge.
RACHEL MASON: And people used them in Labrador?
WARREN HUSS: Oh, everybody had them. You usually used them with a three to five person -- dog sled, they pulled them with dog -- dog teams.
They would use a fan trace instead of what we normally think of, you know, where they have a string of dogs along one, two dogs, and a dog on either side,
they used a fan trace like they used in -- they use in Greenland and that area.
It's just anywhere from three to five dogs, and they'd all be pulling out at a different angle, and they would pull these komatiks along.
RACHEL MASON: That's interesting.
WARREN HUSS: We didn't -- I never did it with dogs, but we always used them because they -- you could haul a ton of freight on them, but it was strictly level.
You're out on the, you know, North Atlantic, you're out on the ice cap of the North Atlantic, and you'd just run along on those.
You could -- you could put a ton of gear in there and a 12 horse snow machine and you get it started and then it would keep moving.
RACHEL MASON: Now, how did you happen to get to Labrador? WARREN HUSS: That was in -- in the military. RACHEL MASON: Oh.
MARY HUSS: Air Force. WARREN HUSS: I graduated from dentist school. It was just -- I went in the Air Force.
It was a US Air base, it was Canadian and RCAF military Air Force, and we had 14,000 U.S. military supporting Vietnam operations.
We ferried a lot of aircraft, and there was -- we had 15 or 16 KC 135 tankers that refueled aircraft going over the North Atlantic.
They were -- they refuel jets in midair, take them into Europe, taking a lot of trainers over for the -- oh, France was buying a lot of trainers at that time.
The -- from the U.S. Anyways, it was just, that's how we got there, RACHEL MASON: But it sounds like -- WARREN HUSS: -- as a dentist. RACHEL MASON: -- you got out on the line and land and hunted and -- WARREN HUSS: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: -- got some --
WARREN HUSS: Got to be good friends with a fellow that was a wildlife biologist up there, he was actually from the U.S., he married an Irish nurse from the International Grenfell Association,
and we got to be friends, and they lived in a little Native settlement called Happy Valley -- I mean, Northwest River about 20 miles off the base.
Eskimos on one side of the river, Athabascan Indians on the other, and they lived on the Eskimo side of this Grant -- Grant Lake.
And we'd go up there and we'd go trouting. MARY HUSS: Eat seals. --
WARREN HUSS: Eat seals. Ate seals. We did a lot of ptarmigan hunting there, too. It was fun. We had a fun time in the military.
We have good friends that we still stay in contact. In fact, we're going overseas with a pediatrician and his wife from 30 years ago, we're going to go overseas this fall with them.
KAREN BREWSTER: So other uses that you've had with the Exit Glacier and the Resurrection Valley?
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. We've -- we did several different things. One of the things early on, and this was after the park opened, they had a regular ski meet out there that they --
Dave Moore organized, and it was very popular event. And you'd cross country ski, and usually we started -- where did we start in those days?
MARY HUSS: We started at the big bridge area. It wasn't the big bridge then. WARREN HUSS: Yeah. MARY HUSS: And skied to the glacier. To the visitor center.
WARREN HUSS: And skied to the glacier. It was a long ski.
And they used to -- they're building a new building there right now, they are just putting up, and I can't remember, I was talking with a fellow that was doing construction,
it's just past where the visitor center is as you're going towards the glacier, over on the left side there's new, big building going in there. MARY HUSS: Pavilion.
WARREN HUSS: It's a pavilion. And that used to be the original site of the visitors center, which was just a small cabin.
It was probably twice the size of this -- of this dining room. And so we'd ski up there.
Big participation. I mean, we'd have 40 -- 30, 40 people ski all the way out there, and they had hot chocolate and cookies for everybody,
and awards for all different age groups, you know, big ribbons they'd pass out. And we did that every year.
And then they also had the Exit Glacier Run, which was the same thing. Of course, that started -- MARY HUSS: They still do that, don't they?
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, but that actually started before -- the Exit Glacier Run started before the park because we used to run up as far as the -- where you cross the river,
and I still remember going up there and you'd sometimes have to run through water because the river diverted and washed out the road, and you'd be running up the road and all of a sudden 200 yards of the road is gone, there's all these big rocks.
And our kids, they were real young, elementary school at the time, and they would go trucking up through these rocks, and we'd all --
she didn't run, but our daughter, and they later became runners in college and stuff, and our son, and I trucked along with them, trying to. And that was a very popular activity, just to --
RACHEL MASON: Was that an annual event? WARREN HUSS: Yeah, it was an annual event.
RACHEL MASON: What time of year do they have that? MARY HUSS: That was in the spring. WARREN HUSS: That was in the spring of the year. MARY HUSS: I think.
WARREN HUSS: And that was -- like I say, that was before Exit Glacier was a park. That was in -- they continue, they still do it today, but the original race out there started long before there was any bridge or any park. So...
KAREN BREWSTER: And then the ski meet that you mentioned, what time of year was that? MARY HUSS: I think that was in March.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. I remember it was pretty long daylight hours. KAREN BREWSTER: And you skied to the visitors center and back?
MARY HUSS: No. Oh, no. Well, I guess you did to get back. KAREN BREWSTER: How did you get back?
WARREN HUSS: Well, we had some people that didn't want to -- didn't want to -- they didn't mind skiing up, but they didn't want to go back.
So what a bunch of us did is we would participate in the race, and then we had a bunch of snow machines back by the Windsong -- you know, the roadhouse at that first bridge.
And we had some sleds and just sleds that pull behind a snow machine and we'd pile three people on the snow machine, driver, and two other people, and put a couple skiers and all their skis and come back down the road.
So people would ski up, and then probably two thirds of them didn't have the energy to ski back because they had raced, so we would bring them back by snow machine back to their cars,
which were parked at that -- where the Old Exit Glacier Road comes into the new one now. So...
KAREN BREWSTER: Where the gate is? WARREN HUSS: Where the gate is, yeah. Yeah.
But -- well, we -- we did, you know, the races up there for years. And I'm trying to think of any other activities.
Mainly just a lot of snow machining up at that area in the wintertime.
That was pretty spectacular. I've - there's -- got some other pictures here that you --
KAREN BREWSTER: So why did you go up there in particular? Why was that appealing for snow machining?
WARREN HUSS: Well, it was appealing in that for us, and this is part of the reason that we argued against closing it down to snow machining, it's level.
And for inexperienced snow machiners to learn, for a child to learn how to snow machine, it was an ideal place because they could --
they were on the level, they couldn't get stuck, in most instances they couldn't get stuck, where if you tried to go up to Lost Lake or something like that with a -- you know, a seven or eight year old.
You know, I used to take my snow machine and I put a little block of wood and tape it underneath the throttle so they could only go about, you know, 7 or 8 miles an hour,
but that way you could let them go, they weren't in any danger, and Exit Glacier was just a great learning area for these kids because it was level and they just loved going out in that outwash plain and riding across the --
MARY HUSS: And taking elderly parents. WARREN HUSS: And taking elderly parents out there.
That was another thing. They just couldn't -- in their later years, they couldn't -- we got them up to Lost Lake a couple years, her folks.
My folks never came up in the wintertime, they'd came up every year to fish.
KAREN BREWSTER: But you say that it's flat, but dealing with that river and open water and -- WARREN HUSS: It's still basically flat. I'm talking about --
KAREN BREWSTER: No, I know, but that having to deal with open water and crossings and things, that's challenging -- WARREN HUSS: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- for a snow machiner. MARY HUSS: But we didn't -- WARREN HUSS: We usually didn't -- we didn't usually cross the rivers with the kids.
KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, so you could stay on this side of the river -- WARREN HUSS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- and it would be okay? WARREN HUSS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, okay.
WARREN HUSS: And you could go all the way up, you could go right through where the visitors centers is and where the paved trail is that goes up to the glacier,
that was just a trail at that time, it wasn't paved, but you know, we kept it open, we'd brush out either side of the trail,
and you could snow machine out on it right where the lower of that first trail goes out, that's where we started going out.
KAREN BREWSTER: But how did -- if there -- before the bridge was there, how did you cross, you crossed lower down --
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. We crossed -- KAREN BREWSTER: -- where the trapping trail was? WARREN HUSS: Right. KAREN BREWSTER: It was safer? WARREN HUSS: With snow machines.
MARY HUSS: I don't think we crossed the river that often. WARREN HUSS: I did a lot with Phil. MARY HUSS: Well, yeah, but with kids...
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. You didn't. You didn't cross it that much.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but with the kids or something, okay --
WARREN HUSS: And we usually made, like, one or two trips before the bridge was there in the summertime where we'd go across in canoe or, you know, a little rubber ducky type thing.
KAREN BREWSTER: That seems quite exciting.
WARREN HUSS: It was fine. MARY HUSS: It could be rather --
WARREN HUSS: You know, it's changed so much because it used to, back -- I've got some picture here, it would just amaze you, on the --
here's some of that road dog machines -- snow machine, that's on the outwash plain.
Here's Exit Glacier early on. This is -- this is long before it was a park. These are back in, this is '78, not long --
RACHEL MASON: Wow. Are these the snow machines that you brought with you from Labrador?
WARREN HUSS: No. No. That's -- that's a little sled that I -- that I hauled the skiers back with.
RACHEL MASON: Oh. And this must be your son? This young boy? MARY HUSS: Probably, yeah. WARREN HUSS: Yeah. Or no, that might be Andy or Pete.
RACHEL MASON: That's in '78.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. This is where the upper trail now just breaks out before you turn and you go up, off -- kind of off the trail up to the side of the glacier.
That's how high the glacier was above the existing trail. I mean, this -- the glacier now is down at this level here.
KAREN BREWSTER: And can you point -- WARREN HUSS: This knob is still visible. This knob is still visible here, but this is the height of the glacier here,
and now the height of the glacier is all the way down here. It's probably down 75 or a hundred feet in elevation.
RACHEL MASON: Wow. Just since that. WARREN HUSS: Uh-hum. KAREN BREWSTER: What is that, '78?
RACHEL MASON: Since about '78. KAREN BREWSTER: '78.
WARREN HUSS: '78. That was '78. 6 -- July -- no, June 12th, '78. And that's early in the winter.
MARY HUSS: Back when you could be close. RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Look how -- MARY HUSS: That's '78.
RACHEL MASON: That is amazing. WARREN HUSS: This is what the front of the glacier used to be like. There was a huge lake in front of the glacier. RACHEL MASON: Really? From the melt-off --
WARREN HUSS: It came out from the runoff, instead of it being a river like it is now, it was far enough out in the outwash plain, it's out there probably, oh, three quarters of a mile further than what it is now, or maybe a mile.
RACHEL MASON: Wow. WARREN HUSS: And it was the point where it was fairly level. Now it's retreating up the -- so that there's more slant so it's all river, but at that time, it was so far out in the wash -- outwash plain, there was a huge, huge lake out in front of it.
MARY HUSS: So I don't know where, where would that be? WARREN HUSS: That's on the -- just looking at the glacier from the right side. Here's Mary's folks, they're out, and that's in '78, and that's in the outwash plain. Hiking in.
That's -- we walked all -- we took a canoe across and a boat and walked up there, and then we -- I can't remember how -- we must have gone up the trail, but that's once you were out on the outwash plain, and as you're looking back,
the visitors center here is right across from these sandy loam areas here, and this is looking back down the valley.
This is up on the knob looking out on the outwash plain, that's Mary. And this is Exit Creek.
RACHEL MASON: It looks like you've got a little person's leg on you, too. MARY HUSS: Yeah.
WARREN HUSS: This is about the same time, this is '72, this is Exit Creek, and the -- the road would be over here,
Paradise is here, and this creek right here, if you continue on up to your right, it would be Exit Glacier.
So you're looking up, you're looking at the end of the mountain, which is you're looking at -- hmm.
RACHEL MASON: Is it over on this side? WARREN HUSS: It would be over on this side. You're looking at the end of this mountain right here.
So you're looking right at the end of the mountain. And the road goes down this valley, this is Paradise Valley going up this way, on up the river this way is -- is -- yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Maybe, you should make -- you should enter -- Rachel, you should write on the map there that there's a photo of that.
RACHEL MASON: Okay. Wait -- where was the --
WARREN HUSS: This photo was taken somewhere, I would guess from the angle, it's on Exit Creek, and it's probably, oh, taken -- that photo was probably taken from right in here somewhere.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, okay. Could you write "photo" under there? Yeah. WARREN HUSS: On photo. It's written on the back, Exit.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, good. WARREN HUSS: Exit Creek photo. This one here is -- you're welcome to take these pictures, you said you'd like to --
KAREN BREWSTER: Scan them. RACHEL MASON: Can we can them and then return them to you?
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. This one here is just out on the outwash plain. This is right in front of the glacier. That's the lake right in front of the glacier.
MARY HUSS: Yeah, it's too bad you can get that one more -- WARREN HUSS: These are -- MARY HUSS: -- what it's like today. I mean, you know what I'm saying?
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Yeah. Compared to -- MARY HUSS: Because that's '78. RACHEL MASON: Find the exact same place today.
MARY HUSS: Because we don't always agree with the Park Service's -- WARREN HUSS: We have -- when they originally put up their signs -- MARY HUSS: -- analysis of how the parks gone back.
WARREN HUSS: When they originally put up their signs, they had one sign that said 19 -- that the glacier was back where that little kiosk is, that there was a sign there that said the glacier was there in 1974.
RACHEL MASON: And you know it wasn't. WARREN HUSS: It was -- it was already all the way back -- it was already all the way back to this knob, it retreated all the way back to this knob that you stand on now.
KAREN BREWSTER: Can you -- is there a way to see that on that map, where that knob would be, you could mark it? WARREN HUSS: I don't -- KAREN BREWSTER: It's not detailed enough?
WARREN HUSS: I don't -- it's not detailed enough. You know, it was -- the knob is right -- let's see, the knob is right in here now, I would guess, probably. KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
WARREN HUSS: And they were saying at that time that the glacier was down in this area.
Well, it's more than a half mile further down than it -- it was -- it was -- their mark was a half mile further out than what it should have been.
KAREN BREWSTER: So that little part you marked the knob, that was 1978, you said?
WARREN HUSS: No, in '74. We have a picture of our son standing on that knob. And we gave that to the Park Service, didn't we? Ann Castellina kept that.
KAREN BREWSTER: If you could just write "1974" next to that little mark, that will help us correlate what your talking about. WARREN HUSS: Yeah. 1974. And this is --
RACHEL MASON: That would be very helpful comparing. Just look at what it looks like today.
MARY HUSS: Yeah, I know we had a good picture that -- I thought I brought it to the meeting in October.
WARREN HUSS: They had -- MARY HUSS: But, I don't think I gave it to you guys because I think you all said --
KAREN BREWSTER: Keep them. RACHEL MASON: Keep them and we'll look at them later. MARY HUSS: That was a mistake --
WARREN HUSS: See, their sign was right here by the -- the sign was right here by the kiosk in '74. Right there. Right at the kiosk.
And -- but we have pictures of standing all the way up here, so you know, obviously the glacier wasn't there because that knob was exposed in '74 when that picture was taken.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that's great to know. WARREN HUSS: In fact, the top of the knob was expose -- was there.
And that's where when you come down the -- you know, if you go up the trail, that -- not the high one up to the ice field, but the other one, if you go up that trail and make a loop and come back down, you're on top of that knob.
Well, that knob where that trail is right now was there in '74, that was exposed. The glacier had retreated beyond that, but to the east it was much higher.
And this picture here is interesting because this was -- you know, this is before they started telling you don't get close to glaciers.
And that was over on the east side of the glacier. And there was, you know, on the opposite side from -- of the glacier, which you enter, you know, from the -- from the visitors center, it was on the other side, and it's just this humongous big face that was 150 feet high, just in -- it was like a tidewater glacier, it was just huge.
And we were up there with Campbells, I can't remember, it must have been '74 or '75, and a whole bunch of us had snow machined up there.
And we were up along that face and we were looking at it from a distance because we knew it wasn't a good idea to be, you know, up close to the face.
Well, the boys, they were all -- the Campbell boys were 8, 9 years old, 10 years old, oh, they wanted their picture taken in front of that, and Keith Campbell and I said no. We're not going up close to that thing.
Not going to go up. Oh, they had to do it. They had to have their picture taken. We fought with them and fought with them.
One of them -- we started to leave, one of them turned around to go back, he wanted to get a picture of it.
We went back and had lunch back kind of over where the -- where you entered the outwash plain now, never heard a thing.
Before we decided to leave we said, well, let's go -- they wanted to back over and look. We went back over there, and that whole thing in that half hour, that whole face had broken off and had just crumbled and thrown ice out 50, 75 feet.
That whole big face just collapsed. And we never even heard it. RACHEL MASON: Well, good thing you weren't standing there. WARREN HUSS: Yeah. MARY HUSS: Yeah. I think it was later than '74, but --
WARREN HUSS: You think that was later than '74? Might have been because Douglas and our kids were driving snow machines, but I think Douglas and Danny and Lenny were probably driving snow machines at that time. But...
RACHEL MASON: Wow. So it was, it was active -- it was an active glacier even then. MARY HUSS: Yeah. Yeah.
WARREN HUSS: But I think our primary use over the years was wintertime use of the area.
RACHEL MASON: Okay. MARY HUSS: And now it's tourist -- I mean, company. And winter.
RACHEL MASON: I see. Well, here's one, just one more real general question. Over the years that you've been here in Seward, what -- what are some of the major changes that you've seen in this community
and in -- I mean, you could specifically talk about the Exit Glacier, but just in general I'm interested in.
WARREN HUSS: Well, it's -- the population has just been slow and steady in growth. Of course, we had the oil spill and pipeline days made a, you know, big impact on town.
The pipeline, just a lot of -- a lot of local people went to work on the pipeline, and a lot of people made good money in a short period of time, and we were able to come back and invest in town.
Ray and Leslie Simutis, they both went up to work on the pipeline shortly after they -- shortly after they moved here to town.
And they came back and opened -- well, they opened their first restaurant, it was called Bubba's, which is now Sailing, Inc., and then they moved and built Ray's Waterfront, that was all out of pipeline money.
And there are a lot of other businesses that started in that same way, they made money on the pipeline, came back to town and after the pipeline was finished, and put their money to good use and built a -- you know, good businesses in town.
MARY HUSS: I think the fact that all the people live out of town, in, you know, all the subdivisions and stuff because none of those were there. We -- we were considered here as living way out of town.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. There was nothing behind us. You know, we have Nash Woods, we have Woodland Hills subdivision behind us, not a lot of homes, but when we first moved here, you could strike an arc,
I always told people, of about 130 degrees, and there wasn't a living soul until you got over to, you know, Whittier and in a hundred and some miles across the mountains. There was nobody. Nobody lived back there.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what about those places right at the beginning of Exit Glacier Road? I mean, there's people who now live out there. Were they there when you got here?
WARREN HUSS: No. There were a few homes down Old Exit Glacier Road, down where the Seaveys lived.
They were just cabins, kind of. And there was a little bit of a community kind of down in behind Spenard Building Supply, in that area, but nothing -- nothing past -- well, past where the Salmon Bake is now.
There -- there wasn't anybody lived out there.
But town is -- it's -- it's grown slow. Of course, it had a lot of devastation -- well, a lot of devastation after the earthquake, so a lot of people left town.
But I think a lot -- some of those people have started to move back. Big notice -- big changes that I've noticed is the quality of the homes. When we first moved here, there weren't very many nice residences around, they were all pretty small.
A lot of people, fishermen that made very, very good money, lived in little tiny homes, and even in those days, they were -- those were the heyday of crabbing and scalloping, and those guys were making millions of dollars a year,
and yet they lived in little one story bungalows, you know. The home wasn't their interest, they put all their money in their boats.
And it wasn't until the Forest Acres kind of took off. That area around behind the Safeway store, that was already here, Bear -- what do they call that area, Marathon, Bear Road area.
That's -- that was the nicer residential section in town, up kind of towards where the school -- MARY HUSS: Clearview. Clearview. WARREN HUSS: Clearview. Clearview subdivision.
Then there was another big subdivision kind of down on the waterfront that had Walter Hickel and a contractor in Anchorage called -- I can't remember his first name, Brady, they had what were called Brady and Hickel homes right after the earthquake.
And those are a lot of the homes that are still there right along where the campground is, just down -- the area of the Post Office, all along waterfront, if you look at a lot of those homes, you realize they are all kind of the same size,
they've just been added on to and fixed up, but they are all Brady-Hickel homes that were all basically the same, you know, tract type home.
And when we got here, a lot of them were vacant, a lot of them were still these little square homes, and people have taken lots and put on additions and changed them quite a bit.
And, of course, the downtown area has changed tremendously. When we first got here, there were no paved roads in town in '71.
There was the main highway coming in town was paved, but the harbor was all, you know, unpaved, that was all just dirt.
There was none of that -- you know, nothing along where -- it was all parking along the waterfront, all where the -- where the harbormaster's building was there, but all the landing and Ray's Waterfront and, of course, the Holiday Inn Express,
that whole area was all just parking on the waterfront. And there were few businesses.
RACHEL MASON: It must have been an interesting time when you first got here. WARREN HUSS: Pardon? MARY HUSS: Town was pretty fragile.
RACHEL MASON: A pretty interesting time, the town was fragile, but maybe like in the spirit of new growth or new hope.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, there was -- you know, the longshoring was basically nonexistent, but we still have a big longshoring union here.
And it really took off during pipeline days, but the -- the longshoreman that still lived here in town, Kowalskis (phonetic), and a lot of these people,
McSwains, they all went to -- during the -- the barging season and stuff, a lot of them went to Ketchikan, Southeastern, because they could get their hours in.
So a big portion of the population, the men, would leave and go where the work was, the longshoring work.
And they might stay down there for the entire summer; spring, summer, and even into the fall to get their longshoring hours to keep their benefits.
And, you know, all those people like Willard Dunham and McSwains, and they were all longshoremen.
And there was a big retired longshoreman group here in town.
LeVan, Duane LeVan, they -- they worked all over the state because work wasn't available here.
So it was a funny population. You know, the women were around and men would take off, go do their thing in the summer, construction, and then come back.
RACHEL MASON: They must have liked it enough here to stay here or leave their families here anyway and come back.
MARY HUSS: I think Seward has oldest stable population; is that right?
WARREN HUSS: Probably. In the state. SHANNON KOVAC: Oldest stable population? MARY HUSS: Most stable older population in the state. In the town.
KAREN BREWSTER: People can move around. MARY HUSS: Yeah. RACHEL MASON: It does -- it does seem less transient than a lot of places. MARY HUSS: Right.
WARREN HUSS: But there's so much more activity in town now.
The new homes and, of course, the Skill Center, which is now AVTEC, when we first got here, was just getting started when we arrived here in town. And of course, that --
that's pre-university, UAF stuff down along the waterfront, those were just old.
The UAF came in there, and that was just a great, big, huge steel warehouse left over after the earthquake, and wiped all that waterfront area out. And there wasn't a whole lot going on in town.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, you mentioned before that the community wasn't so excited about the park coming in and being established in 1980.
How do you guys feel about it now that it's been here? You know, you said you were worried about it.
WARREN HUSS: Love it. MARY HUSS: I think town loves it. WARREN HUSS: Yeah. I think they like the business it's attracted, all the tourism.
You know, people can make money now in this town. When we first got here, there wasn't a whole lot going on, you know. You couldn't -- there just weren't many jobs.
You either had your own business and worked at that, or you left town to work during the summer and came back during the winter.
But I think people in town now are very appreciative of the -- of the park itself.
KAREN BREWSTER: So your fears about reduced access was --
WARREN HUSS: Oh, that was -- that was quelled before they even opened the park. When Dave came in here,
Dave Moore came in here and -- and started, I can't remember whether it actually opened when he came here or whether -- MARY HUSS: No, I think he was the second, but just by a few months.
WARREN HUSS: Oh, there was somebody. But they brought in Dave specifically because of his people skills.
And he allayed all fears and everything. And I don't think -- it was just like the prison, there were a lot of people that just were against the prison when they started talking about building it.
Then when they found out more about the prison, once it got underway, they think, wow, it's a good business. A good clean business. KAREN BREWSTER: Jobs.
MARY HUSS: I think the Park Service is still a little nervous about Exit Glacier in the winter, they're not quite as eager for access, and this is just --
and I feel you need to remind the younger Park Service employees who the parks belong to. This is my theory. But...
KAREN BREWSTER: In that they -- that they are tempted to want to reduce --
MARY HUSS: They don't want snow machines, but when you ask them how many were out last week, they'll say, oh, we saw four machines, you know.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. MARY HUSS: So we're vigilant when they -- that's what I thought you guys were doing. RACHEL MASON: When the road is closed -- oh no...
MARY HUSS: No, I mean, last fall, that's why any time Exit Glacier comes up, we go to the meeting.
KAREN BREWSTER: To defend your right to use it? Is that what you mean?
MARY HUSS: Well, right. And I feel strongly after watching Ken Burns's Park Service thing that the parks belong to the people. And we're not trashing the park.
WARREN HUSS: And that the real mission of the Park Service and the Forest Service, at times over the years, has been neglected.
We've had Park Service heads in here who, basically, if they could have, they would have shut the park down and nobody would have used it.
MARY HUSS: Not the heads. I don't think the chief dogs, I think the -- RACHEL MASON: The employees. KAREN BREWSTER: The staff. MARY HUSS: -- the younger people.
WARREN HUSS: Well, you have the one that lived out at -- MARY HUSS: Well, right, but he was Forest Service, I think. Hard to keep those two separate.
WARREN HUSS: Oh, that's right. He was Forest Service. Right.
MARY HUSS: But I love Exit Glacier because in the summer it's accessible.
People in wheelchairs can get there, and I don't feel that destroys the wilderness experience for somebody who doesn't live in the wilderness.
And if we all want wilderness, we can just find it. And then the same way in the winter. WARREN HUSS: Yeah.
MARY HUSS: It just works well until they start messing with it.
RACHEL MASON: Do you think it should be opened up more in the winter?
MARY HUSS: No, I think it's fine right now. But just leave it. They are always tweaking it.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what are the -- right now, what are the rules? It's open in the winter for snow machines?
MARY HUSS: Uh-hum. Skiers. WARREN HUSS: Yeah, you -- KAREN BREWSTER: Up to certain boundaries?
WARREN HUSS: Well, you can go up -- the current plan the way they have it, which is supposed to be a 20 year plan, you can go up as far as the visitors center, but you have to stay on the road.
And you're allowed to go up Paradise and Paradise Valley, but when they were originally proposing this plan, we went to the meeting at AVTEC, and they had all their drawings up on the board and everything.
And they said, well, now you can go up Exit Glacier up Paradise if you want, but you can't cross this line on the -- on the east side of the highway, once you cross the bridge.
And I thought, wait a minute, their line goes all the way from the visitors center, and it was a red line, and it went down 10 feet off the side of the highway,
it would be the east side of the road up to the glacier from the bridge, and it went from the visitors center down to the middle of the river.
They had a very detailed map. It went down to the very middle of the river. That never freezes. It never freeze there.
So I said, now, wait a minute, how are you supposed to get up to Exit -- Exit Valley if you've got no access?
And then I proposed, I said at that meeting, I said, why don't you just open a trail to Exit Creek through the campground, which is that little area -- pardon me, the little area, oh, a quarter mile back down from -- from the visitors center, half mile back down.
I said, open access there, let us go out to Exit Creek, and that way we can access the valley. And they --
they agreed to that. So, but they had that plan to shut that -- so that, yeah, we could use it, but there was no way you could get to it,
unless you wanted to go back to the original effort of building these bridges and everything to get across the river to get up to Exit. So...
RACHEL MASON: Building ladders or whatever.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. And then they were really reluctant to begin with. Well, we don't want you -- so then, you know, there were a lot of compromises made, they opened that up.
They -- for a while, first year or so, they completely closed down the outwash plain, right where you come up Exit Creek, and then all of a sudden widens out, they wanted that, save that for the skiers in the wintertime.
Well, nobody skis up there in the wintertime. Some, there's a few people. KAREN BREWSTER: They just use the road.
WARREN HUSS: There's a few people will get up there -- MARY HUSS: But you have to be world class. WARREN HUSS: but not many all the way up to the glacier.
MARY HUSS: Unless you've got a snow machine to take you up there. WARREN HUSS: 99 percent of the usage is back in that first 6 to 8 miles of the road.
So they had the whole outwash plain, and now in the last couple years, they now -- they even put signs up across the face of it and the face of the glacier, and you have to stay, like, 200 yards out.
And I think a lot of that has been pressure from the military, from the Seward Resort operation because they said, wait a minute, we --
we'll take 20 people a day up there and let them enjoy the glacier, and you know, we don't have to go up the face of the glacier, but let these airmen come down and ride around out on that plain instead of riding down the road,
give them a little open space to snow machine in.
And at that point, they -- I think Lonnie Fisher , who is the one, probably a lot of pressure if him, they were able to get that opened up to the point where you could use, utilize most of the outwash plain and from the glacier now for -- for just riding.
I go up there in the late afternoon, middle of the week, and like I say, I go up there to sit and watch game and stuff, and it's just snow machines going around.
Well, if they weren't allowed up there, nobody would be up there. Maybe a couple skiers a week at the most.
KAREN BREWSTER: But you're still allowed to go up and down the river, the main river? WARREN HUSS: Yeah. Oh yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: But you can only go up the road? MARY HUSS: Yeah, you can't -- you're not supposed to go off the road.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, you're not -- just in the last couple years they've posted signs. Now, it's a real -- yeah, you're not supposed to go out there. MARY HUSS: We don't go out there.
WARREN HUSS: They have signs posted there that shows no -- it says no off road -- it's an interesting sign.
It doesn't have a snow machine, it has four wheeler, it has like a Jeep or a truck type thing and something, but it doesn't specifically have a snow machine.
But I asked them, I said, you know, you don't have a snow machine on that sign, is it all right for me to snow -- no, they don't want you out there in that outlying river valley.
KAREN BREWSTER: So the way you used to go up the river valley with your bridges, you can't do that anymore.
WARREN HUSS: No, you can't do that anymore. No. No. You're supposed to stay on the road. KAREN BREWSTER: On the road.
WARREN HUSS: On the road. Once you enter the forest, once you're -- you pass out of that BLM land on to the Forest Service land, which is the right side of the road,
not in the park, but on the ride side of the road is Forest Service, once you're -- I think the road basically is still a Forest Service road. Am I correct?
SHANNON KOVAC: Part of it is. WARREN HUSS: Yeah. Part of it is. And so not until it makes the turn at the bridge does it actually enter into the park itself.
So the right hand side of the road is Forest Service land, the left hand side of the road is still -- well, it'd be park land now is back down to a certain point, and then it's beyond land back -- or borough land back towards town.
MARY HUSS: But we all share it. WARREN HUSS: Well, no, you're not supposed to go out there.
KAREN BREWSTER: For all those (inaudible), no matter where you are up there, is on stay on the road, nowadays.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, but I mean, you know, you know they don't enforce that. They've allowed the military to use -- go out on the riverbed, and they -- to my knowledge, they haven't said anything.
I still see their tracks out there. They pretty much stay in one track and they don't go roaming around. KAREN BREWSTER: Well, there's open water.
WARREN HUSS: Yeah. MARY HUSS: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And your river doesn't freeze solid.
WARREN HUSS: No. No, there's always some open sections. KAREN BREWSTER: Makes it dangerous.
RACHEL MASON: Well, is there anything else that you'd like to tell us that you want to make sure that we get on record here?
MARY HUSS: I didn't mean to get on my soapbox.
RACHEL MASON: That's good. That's exactly good. KAREN BREWSTER: That's why I asked you about that. That's part of it. You're allowed to soapbox.
WARREN HUSS: Our son used to, and his high school friends when they were in high school and just after college, they used to have a ball, they would go up on the edge of the glacier and they'd come out on top here where the current upper trail goes on the glacier,
and they would hike out to this bowl out here and take their skis up. KAREN BREWSTER: Do you want to mark that on there?
WARREN HUSS: Well, they would -- they would take the regular trail, it goes up the side here, and then they'd go out and they would ski across out here with cross country skis, and then this -- these ridges are open almost all year around,
and they would hike up these ridges, and then using downhill technique with cross country skis, would ski down that face of the -- RACHEL MASON: They'd hike up with skis on their back?
WARREN HUSS: Yeah, just hike up with skis on their back in the summertime.
And this -- right after you get out here there's a few places where there's crevasses and stuff, but they always were pretty safe and roped together and stuff. And they had some interesting experiences out there.
They were out skiing one day, I think there were three or four of them, they were out skiing out in the buff out there.
And they were just about back to the -- back where the people, you know, were up on the edge of the glacier, or up on the land here right where it goes -- KAREN BREWSTER: The day hikers.
WARREN HUSS: -- on the glacier, and all of a sudden, they -- they realize there are people there, so they pulled on their pants and they skied on over, and there are five German ladies standing there, oh, we have been watching you through the binoculars, so much fun.
RACHEL MASON: So much fun. Well, what did they do with their clothes? KAREN BREWSTER: They had a pack. WARREN HUSS: They had packs. They had a pack. They had packs, RACHEL MASON: Oh, they had packs. I was going to say.
WARREN HUSS: They had ropes in case they, you know, ran into -- ropes in case they ran into the little crevasses. And she -- they always -- our son always told us that, oh, there's no crevasses out there, don't worry, it's fine.
And finally, I think it was he's home from college maybe his junior or senior year, and he said, well -- we were all sitting around the table one night and he said, now, have the -- what does he call it?
MARY HUSS: The statute of limitations. WARREN HUSS: Has the statute of limitations run out? And we said, what?
Well, then, these stories kept coming out, things they did when they were in high school. Of course, it's a small town, you think you know everything.
Well, anyway, one of the -- Steven went back in his room and hauled out a picture, and here he is just standing on the crevasse, it's just bottomless, he's straddling it on his skis,
and it just goes off as far as you can see behind him, and he's standing over this big crevasse. And I think at that point Mary just about fainted, but --
KAREN BREWSTER: But he did have clothes on? WARREN HUSS: Yeah, yeah, he did have clothes on for that experience.
MARY HUSS: At least he had the picture. Yeah. RACHEL MASON: That gives me shivers just thinking about it. MARY HUSS: Yeah. Definitely.
WARREN HUSS: They also had a very funny experience. They were -- they skied out here one afternoon, it was -- they used to go up there all the time because in the summertime you go out and, you know, shorts and the T-shirt and just -- it's nice skiing.
So they were out skiing here one afternoon, and they ran into a group of three -- let's see, I can't even remember, Tetreau and Peter Fitzmaurice, and I can't remember who the third -- and they were doing the cross the ice field from Homer.
RACHEL MASON: I think I'd heard about this. WARREN HUSS: They had a movie, they have a very nicely done movie.
Well, Steven and the kids, they're all out there skiing, and here they come, these guys, they've got parkas on and they are all zipped up with these tunnels, and they're pulling sleds and they said, what are you kids doing out here?
They didn't realize who -- they didn't know who these kids were.
And these kids were saying, well, we're trying to find Seward, we just skied over from Homer.
Supposedly, like the same route. Well, you're not supposed to be out here.
And they said, well, could you tell us how to get to where we go down -- where we get off the glacier to go down to Seward.
Peter, and did you ever know Peter? SHANNON KOVAC: No.
WARREN HUSS: He and Tetreau, they got pretty upset with the boys, and I think they finally confessed, he said, we are from Seward, we come up here all the time.
And he said, how can you stand it in those parkas all zipped up and everything? It's -- you know, it's 80 degrees out or whatever. You know, so...
MARY HUSS: Back in the old days when the sun was out in Seward. Not this summer. KAREN BREWSTER: Not this summer.
Well, great. Thank you very much for your time -- RACHEL MASON: Thank you very much. WARREN HUSS: Well.