Bud Rice was interviewed on December 10, 2010 by Rachel Mason and Karen Brewster at the offices of the National Park Service in Anchorage, Alaska. In this interview, Bud talks about his glacier research, the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and being on the incident command team, and his work as a planner for the National Park Service. He talks about expeditions on the ice field and Exit Glacier, naming of Exit Glacier, scientific studies in Kenai Fjords National Park, changes in wildlife populations, the road to Exit Glacier, snowmachining, skiing, hunting, trapping, hiking, and camping in the Exit Glacier area, changes in the glacier, and local reaction to establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Date of Interview: Dec 10, 2010
Narrator(s): Bud Rice
Interviewer(s): Rachel Mason, Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Carol McCue
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Personal background, education, and coming to Alaska
Master's project studying and mapping the Harding Icefield
Glaciers and climate change
Ice core drilling project
Other research on Harding Icefield
Flora and fauna on the Harding Icefield
Preciptation and snow layers on the Harding Icefield
Expedition to traverse the Harding Icefield
Working as backcountry ranger for Kenai Fjords National Park
Doing wildlife studies for Kenai Fjords National Park
Use of the Exit Glacier area before park establishment
Early ski expeditions on the Harding Icefield
Native names for the glaciers
Mapping glacier locations
Changes to Exit Glacier
Measuring glacier's movement
Uses of the Exit Glacier area
Local reaction to establishment of Kenai Fjords National Park
Tourist concessionaire operations
Weather station on the Harding Icefield
Personal use of the Exit Glacier area
Identifying the rosy poppy plant
Skiing the Exit Glacier Road and valley
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KAREN BREWSTER: I'm Karen Brewster, and today is December 10, 2010, and I'm here in Anchorage, Alaska, with Bud Rice, here in the Park Service offices in downtown Anchorage. And Rachel Mason is running the video camera for us.
And this is for the traditional use of Exit Glacier project for Kenai Fjords National Park. Bud, thank you for taking the time to be interviewed.
I think we'll start -- before we get into Exit Glacier, just take us back a step and start -- tell us a little bit about yourself and your background, and --
BUD RICE: How far back do you want me to go?
KAREN BREWSTER: Where and when you were born and how -- your education, how you got to Alaska. BUD RICE: Ok. Yeah, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: That kind of stuff.
BUD RICE: Good. Well, I was born in San Francisco, 1950. And I grew up in Northern California. Graduated from Pleasant Hill High School, which has since shut down.
Applied to several colleges, ended up going to UC Berkeley, which wasn't very far away from home, but why go far when the best is near, was my attitude.
So I got a degree in forestry and conservation at UC Berkeley.
I actually started off as an architect student, realized I didn't want to live in the cities, and that's where architects were going to be.
So I really enjoyed hiking in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada as a young -- young man and did some backpacks, and I thought, whoa, I've got to get a career where I can be out in the country a little more.
So I got a degree in Forestry and Conservation. Oddly enough, I never worked for the Forest Service or did any direct forestry work, I was more oriented on the conservation end of things.
Ended up getting a job as -- as an outdoor educator at Yosemite Institute in Yosemite National Park. And there I taught forest ecology to high school kids and some adult groups.
So I still was interested in that subject matter.
And as I worked through college, I worked as a -- kept my hand in the pan and I worked as an illustrator for a forestry professor, and I -- I illustrated a plant family guide for forestry students to help them identify plants.
And I was really into botany and ecology and all this, and so the way this got started is he had us identify plants in a lab, the forestry lab,
and I would key the thing out rapidly and I'd go key out the species, I didn't want to stop at the family.
And then I'd illustrate the thing while other people were still struggling with it.
And the professor was wandering around and he says, wow, what are you doing here? I said, oh, I'm done keying, so I got into species, and I just want to draw these things, they're so beautiful.
And he says, how would you like a job doing that? Because he couldn't draw a stick figure. It was hilarious.
So I did these nice illustrations and did research on families and tried to illustrate the best -- the most important characteristics of plant families to help people really understand.
And the California flora is very diverse, but we had a wonderful botanical collections at the University of California Berkeley.
And so I could research the Jepson Herbarium and the main herbarium , and figure these things out. Anyway, we ended up with a publication, so that was kind of fun.
So I worked in Yosemite Institute, and after a couple years of that, I ended up getting very involved in cross country skiing, ended up guiding for Yosemite Mountaineering School, and taught skiing and waxed skis and guided.
And also worked as an interpretive naturalist at Tuolumne Meadows.
Carl Sharsmith who was, like, the alpine botanist in California at the time. So I learned even more and got really interested in arctic and alpine stuff.
And then I thought, there were opportunities to work guiding Sierra Club trips in the Wrangells in Alaska, and I -- it was a dream of mine to come to Alaska.
And I didn't get the job, a good friend of mine at Yosemite got this job guiding this jar for Powell, and he had some real issues.
But I ended up applying to work as an interpretive naturalist at Mt. McKinley, then Mt. McKinley, in 1976, got the job, came up to Alaska, fell in love with Alaska, and decided I've got to spend a winter up here.
So I ended up volunteering to mush dogs at Mount McKinley National Park. So I took the weather, exercised the dogs, and fed them.
And as a naturalist, in the summertime I was collecting plants, got a collection from -- collected plants and reorganized and rebuilt the herbarium at Mt. McKinley, which was in total disarray.
I'd seen good herbariums at University of California and Yosemite, and I thought, this is not good enough for a national park.
So I reworked the herbarium. And so that was my start in Alaska.
I ended up going from Mount McKinley, worked the Katmai backcountry for three summers, worked the Kenai Fjords following that for a few summers.
And in between in the winters, I worked in the Teton Science School, which is another outdoor school similar to Yosemite Institute, I worked three winters there.
First as the winter instructor and as the winter program director, et cetera, at the end. So I kept working my way up in that program.
And it was wonderful to be in the Grand Teton in the wintertime.
And there I met Mardy Murie who had a real strong connection to Alaska, and so that -- that just strengthened my connection to Alaska.
And at Teton Science School we had the Murie collections of skins, and it was -- well, half the stuff or most of it was from Alaska because Olaus Murie had done all this work in Alaska, and his brother, so
that was -- I got more natural history information about Alaska there.
So anyway, so I worked in all these different parks in Alaska, ended up at Kenai Fjords. And was working on a graduate program at University of Alaska, and I thought, well, I'm either going to be a teacher or get on with some sort of natural resource program.
And the superintendent at Kenai Fjords, David Moore, liked me so much he says, well, how would you like to be a resource manager at Kenai Fjords National Park?
And I says, I don't have the status, I don't have career status, I can't apply. I can't -- I couldn't do it.
He says, well, we're thinking about advertising for a cooperative education position here to get a resource manager.
Would you apply? I said, well, absolutely. I mean, but does it work for a graduate student? I want to get a graduate degree, I already had a bachelors, and I was thinking about getting a graduate degree in --
masters in science teaching because I really enjoyed that aspect and working with kids.
And ended up getting a degree in natural resources management at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.
RACHEL MASON: What year was that when you --
BUD RICE: Well, I started taking a course in '83, but I actually did the graduate work '84 to '86. Yeah, I just took a set of -- of courses in '83.
And I -- I took courses, geomorphology and glacial geology and glaciology and meteorology, and then I ended up doing all this.
So my graduate project, and it wasn't technically a thesis, I didn't have a hypothesis, but my project was a study of the Harding Icefield and its outflowing glaciers because Kenai Fjords National Park wanted to know more about this system.
So I did a lot of research at UAF, a wonderful place to be for that. Got all kinds of historical records, looked at old Russian maps of where the glacier termini used to be, et cetera, and the other types --
KAREN BREWSTER: So you were mapping the area of the glacier?
BUD RICE: So what I ended up doing was -- was mapping the Harding Icefield and its glaciers using high altitude aerial photography, and at the time, satellite imagery, land sat, satellite imagery, which isn't as good as the more common --
more recent satellite imagery, but the high altitude -- AHAP, color infrared aerial photography, was at a scale of 1 to 60,000, and these maps are 1 to -- scale of 1 to a mile, or 1 to 62,000.
You know, very close.
And so I could do overlays and -- and was able to map the changes in terminus positions of all the glaciers around the entire Harding Icefield system.
And then I calculated the area of ice loss, and so -- and I read every paper I could about climate change and glaciers and all that, so in the early and mid '80s, it's like, we're seeing a big change here.
And so -- and talking with Carl Benson who was a glaciologist, and Will Harrison, we talked about, you know, what might happen to Harding Icefield system, et cetera, over time.
And it's conceivable that things got warm enough that the ice field would drop below the equilibrium line altitude and that eventually it would just flush out through glaciers, we could lose the ice field, you know, in time.
It would take a long time, but it's conceivable it could happen, and actually, it's starting to happen.
What I found in my project was I thought I could see these little nunataks, these -- these rock outcroppings in the middle of the ice field.
In the northwestern part of the ice field, it appeared that -- that snow and ice was thickening, and that actually, they were starting to get a little bit buried.
Whereas, on the outflowing glaciers, everything was receding and they were -- the glaciers were drawing down, which has since accelerated since I did my project in the '80s, so I was on to something, and it was -- it was fairly obvious that --
KAREN BREWSTER: You were ahead of your time.
BUD RICE: I was ahead of my time. And so then I started reading about climate changes, and it's like, glaciers -- and Carl Benson was famous, he said, you know, glaciers are really great to study for climate because they integrate two of the primary features of climate.
And the two primary features are temperature and precipitation.
So there was a guy, Larry Mayo with USGS, had been doing work on Wolverine Glacier, not too far from here, and then other glaciers in Alaska.
And he came up with a model for tidewater glaciers, which we looked at a lot here, but just glaciers in general, but especially tidewater glaciers, he said eventually, as --
as temperatures warm up, you can get more vapor coming off the ocean,. You can actually get an increase in precipitation with warmer temperatures.
But after awhile it will get so warm that even an increase of precipitation will be melted out in the case of glaciers.
And in the case of rain, warm places are wet, you're just going to get increased precipitation and more rain and more flooding.
And that's one -- now that we're involved in scenario planning for climate change, you know, we think we might see increased floods in places like Gulf of Alaska and Gulf of Mexico, Texas, and, you know, we're starting to see these big flood events, hurricanes, and things like that.
Or we get these Hawaii Express or Pipeline Express situations where we get this rain that comes up from the tropics and just goes all the way up to the Alaska Range and now the Brooks Range this year.
KAREN BREWSTER: Like two weeks ago we had --
BUD RICE: Two weeks ago we had that. So -- so we were sort of watching for that in the '80s.
And when -- before I went to up to the Harding Icefield, we did a drilling project with Carl Benson, and -- and that was part of my project to try to figure out, you know, how much of this heavy, wet snow on the Kenai Peninsula do you have to get before you start forming glacier ice.
So we were drilling, coring down through the ice, and we used a PICO auger, and we dug a big pit.
We did the -- the first 3 meters or so we did hand digging, and get the density and hardness of snow, and all the different temperature measurements, et cetera.
What we found on the Harding Icefield, which was different than the work that Carl did in Greenland, is that the temperature of the snow was pretty near isothermal,
which means it's pretty near the melting temperature, right around 32 degrees Farenheit or zero Celsius.
Except near the top, it varies more near the top, but then when you get into the core of -- of the -- the snow core and the ice, it's pretty near zero Celsius. Probably all the way down.
And we tried to do some radar to get some depth measurements of this, and we actually -- of the Harding Icefield that we -- the radar was reflecting, and it wasn't showing us was very deep,
and so we think we're getting reflection off of the hard ice layer and not necessarily hitting rock, unless there was a nunatak underneath there and we're getting a bounce off of that.
So you really need to run a radar system net all over the whole thing. But I did some calculations on the area of the Harding Icefields in my masters book here but --
You know, having worked in Yosemite, in Yosemite Valley, and it's famous because it's, you know, glacially carved, and you've got all the polished, you know, rock, et cetera, at Yosemite, so I had a really nice background, you know, in some of this.
And read all Muir's papers, and other geologists that had done work in Yosemite.
Harding Icefield is big enough to bury 50 Yosemite Valleys. That's how big.
And -- and I wouldn't be surprised, because we have granitic nunataks poking out, that we've got some features there under the Harding Icefield that probably look not much different than a Yosemite Valley.
Could be lots of them.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.
BUD RICE: You know, these big outflowing glaciers. Tthat was kind of a neat thing to think about.
Our coring project out here in the middle of the ice field, we got down to about 45, 50 feet and the bit got stuck.
And we were operating by hand with pulleys and stuff, and when we pulled it out, we ripped the core bit apart, so it's still down there.
And it's, like, oh, bummer. So we got stopped.
We really didn't get to the hard ice, and what we found in -- in the cores in the Harding Icefield is that we went through ice glands.
What Carl called ice glands, because you can get rain events even up there, and some of the Kenai Peninsula sticks out in the of Gulf of Alaska, and we get a lot of moisture there.
We would core down, and you'd have the snow be getting denser and denser as you went down in depth, but every once in awhile you'd hit this chunk of ice, hard ice, which was probably what stuck the bit and broke it.
It's ice on one side of the core bit and not on the other, and it just got jammed.
But we had these ice glands which increased the density of that, but he said that's not typical in arctic places.
You go to Greenland and it's just dry -- what he called the dry facies of snow, it's all dry, and it has to get really deep before it gets enough weight to compress it into ice, and it takes maybe a hundred years.
We think we probably get ice, you know, in 5 or 10 years in this wet, heavy snow, and heavy weight of the other stuff on top, it compresses, and pretty soon it's going to make ice or it's pretty dang close to being ice.
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, the term you used was an ice -- ? BUD RICE: Gland.
KAREN BREWSTER: Gland? G L A N D?
BUD RICE: Yeah. Uh hum. Yeah. In the core, we could see these things, and I've got cross sections of the ice core in the -- in the master's paper shows that.
So that was kind of different.
So this, in a way, looking at the Harding Icefield, was not a great location to look at climate change over time because you'd have these ice glands, and it was confusing.
And so we -- probably what we're seeing, the ice glands are formed from water that percolates down in the snow and it mixes the layers of snow.
It's not like you get winter deposition and then you get a little melt in the summer and some dust, and that's how they can see the annual layers in Greenland, say, for example.
Now, there are high elevation ice cores that have been done since our little work here up at high elevations in Wrangell National Park.
15,000 feet, and there you get back in a situation, because you don't ever get a melt up there.
And so you get the dry facies of snows, and it's really a better place to look at the layers.
What we could see in the Harding Icefield are tephra layers, and tephra, T E P H R A, is volcanic ash.
So generally the winds from the Alaska Peninsula and the Aleutians come from west to east.
That's the general, like we know that the great Katmai eruption in 1912, you know, blew up and buried Kodiak in a foot of ash, and it went down to Seattle and then swirled around the earth and changed climate for a couple of years. Actually, it was a cooling effect because of all the dust in the atmosphere.
We could see some ash layers in the Harding Icefield. Those are nice.
You can look at the -- the glass and they can tell where it came from, you can date it. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.
BUD RICE: So tephra dating is really a neat thing to do.
But it would still be fun to get up here in the middle of the ice field and go all the way down.
We did hand equipment, we had helicopter access at that time, but it would be -- you'd need to a little bit more powerful system to go way in there.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so nobody has gone back out there and done more --
BUD RICE: -- to go all the way down or more radar. Basically, what we're looking -- what most researchers have done in the Exit Glacier area and the Harding Icefield is --
Keith Echelmeyer and some others have done what they call this laser profiling. He's a guy to talk to --
Oh, I don't know if he's still alive. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: No, he just died -- BUD RICE: That's right. KAREN BREWSTER: -- about a month ago.
BUD RICE: He had brain cancer or something. Yeah. Too bad.
But other people I think know his work, and he had a number of graduate students.
But he was doing laser profiling at Exit Glacier across, and, you know, several passes, and so we're looking at how the glaciers are thinning by, you know, doing the profiling of that.
So -- so it wasn't mass balance studies, which is really labor intensive where people go up and dig all these snow pits and, you know, look at the density and all -- that's just a huge effort.
Well, Mayo and Dennis Trabant and other people have been doing that at Wolverine and Gulkana Glaciers.
Such as, they've been doing that for years, and these are, you know, long term monitored glaciers, which is great to have those.
KAREN BREWSTER: So this was all part of your masters work -- BUD RICE: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- but you were also an employee at Kenai Fjords?
BUD RICE: In the summertime I was an employee, and then did some masters work, and then I'd go back and do my graduate studies, and then came out with a report at the end to kind of inform the Park Service about this.
One of the things I also did is, you know, looked at who first traversed Harding Icefield and Exit Glacier.
And who were some of the early explorers, and that's in the masters paper, but one of the early people --
well, the Natives had names for some of the glaciers, and they were known to chase after wildlife and go there.
By the way, when I've -- I've skied across a major portion of the ice field, and sometimes you see bear tracks that traverse, or wolves.
And of course, there are -- are mountain goats on the nunataks around, and sometimes they get out to these nunataks that not far from the mainland area.
So there is wildlife out there.
And there are ice worms on the surface, and we'd find those. This is one of the places to find ice worms.
And certain bird species that go out there and they would -- bird species like rosy finches, and I can't remember some of the others.
Yeah, I'll think of some of those species sometime, but they go out and feed on these worms, and the worms are feeding on algae because you have this wetter snow.
And there is a -- in studying Miriam Webster's, you know, life forms and stuff from tropical to the arctic, some people postulated another life zone beyond the alpine and arctic called the Aeolian life zone, which is the windblown, which is in the atmosphere, which is above everything, but the --
all this windswept debris which has algae and fungus, you know, ends up on places like these glaciers, and you get some birds out there and you get -- now you get some ice worms that are feeding on this stuff that's deposited there, and that's what they survive on, and you get birds that show up there and they feed on them.
So there's actually a little ecosystem up there on the ice field. It's not very complex, but there's life up there on the ice field. It's quite interesting.
KAREN BREWSTER: One of the things we've been asking people to do is to mark on the map, which is why we have the maps. You know, places they've used and been.
And so you were talking about that you traversed the ice field. BUD RICE: Oh.
KAREN BREWSTER: Can you mark -- I mean, we don't have the whole -- map of the whole ice field, but --
BUD RICE: Yeah. Well --
KAREN BREWSTER: Where you -- you know, or where you did your research, if you could tell from this map.
BUD RICE: Yeah, I've got it on here, but it was -- we tried to get a center high point, and it was south of these nunataks, it's about out here.
I've got a more detailed location on that. We didn't have GPS in the mid '80s, but we -- we triangulated on these different nunataks, so I bet it's about there in this Section 27 here at this township and range.
What we did do at the end of our coring project is that we wanted to see how much precipitation falls up there.
And how much more would fall there than in Seward where there's a long term monitoring station.
One thing I will say that was quite interesting in our research project -- what was it, '85, or whatever, and they said we couldn't get up to the ice field for a few days because it was raining cats and dogs in Seward.
And they got, like, 3 inches, 3 or 4 inches of rain, you know, in a couple of days.
And so when we finally get up there, there's fresh snows all over the place, it was snowing up there.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: So then we core through this, and we could tell when we got to the old snow underneath this fresh snow. It was a meter of snow and we measured the water content, and it was quite a bit of water content.
And it turns out that the water content and the snow was about three times, three to four times what fell in Seward on the coast.
So you get this adiabatic lifting of air masses, and so, you know, when you lift it up and things cool off and everything drops out,
so you get a lot of rain in Seward and you get a lot more water equivalent in the snow up on Harding Icefield.
That's why those glaciers are forming, it just dumps on that place.
And some of the early estimates were, you know, around 400 inches of snow a year. Could be more.
KAREN BREWSTER: Wow.
BUD RICE: It depends on the year. That's probably an average up there.
It's like -- like Valdez. Even more than Valdez. Gets a lot of snow up there. Okay. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So you --
BUD RICE: Okay. So the traverse. You asked -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. The traverse. BUD RICE: -- about the traverse. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: What -- what I did with -- with Chief Ranger Peter Fitzmaurice, and another backcountry ranger, Jeff Carlson -- We were all skiers and mountaineers, and we didn't do a complete traverse. Friends of mine have, but, and Mark -- Mike Tetreau who worked with me.
KAREN BREWSTER: I've heard the name.
BUD RICE: You should try to get ahold of him. He's down in Washington, but he worked there way longer than I did.
20 years, and did a lot of work on the Exit Glacier trails.
And did traverses, et cetera.
So anyway, what we did is we got dropped off by boat in upper Aialik Bay, and then we hiked up this mountain pass and got on --
it's not on this map, but got on a feeder glacier and skied.
Wrapped around a crevasse field over various ice bridges. It was pretty hairball at first.
And we get out onto the Harding Icefield, and then it got foggy, couldn't see where we were going.
We got stuck in a rainstorm and fog, and this is, like, August or something.
And then when we got out in the middle of Harding Icefield, we just got socked in by fog.
But we sort of timed how long we skied out Aialik Glacier into the middle of Harding Icefield,
and figured out our rate of speed, and the way we directed each other is the guy behind was watching the two skiers ahead, and he'd tell the leader to turn left or right to keep him going on a straight line.
And he -- this guy had a compass, so we were taking a compass bearing and going out in the fog. This was before GPS.
KAREN BREWSTER: Every few steps you'd take a compass bearing?
BUD RICE: Yeah. Well, he'd just make -- well, he'd look at the tracks and make sure we're forming pretty much a straight line.
Got out to a point where we thought we were out in the middle of Harding Icefield, and then it would be safe to turn due north and head out here, and then that's what we did.
We turned north and skied for hours until we eventually bust out of the fog, and then we could see the nunataks, and then we knew where we were.
So that was pretty exciting.
RACHEL MASON: Can you trace the route?
BUD RICE: Well, it's not all on here. It's south of Bear Glacier, and I don't know if this is Aialik. I don't think so. I think it's here.
So I think we came out here, and then we got past these nunataks, and then we just kind of went north here.
And then we just skied around, and we get to where the Harding Icefield trail is, and I'd hiked up that a number of times, and then once we got there, it was fine.
KAREN BREWSTER: You mean the Exit Glacier Trail?
BUD RICE: Exit Glacier. Excuse me. Exit Glacier Trail.
And I helped, when I was there in the '80s, oh, I forget the girl's name, was asked to pioneer the route --
I was actually first of the backcountry rangers, so I was out in Nuka Bay for four summers before I got on as a resource manager and started doing some of this.
So when I wasn't out doing my research, I was down in Nuka Bay being a ranger.
And mostly I had talked with gold miners and commercial fisherman, and the occasional party would fly in from Homer and do a kayak trip.
And it was pretty wild and woolly out there as a backcountry ranger, but...
KAREN BREWSTER: So what year were you hired by the park?
BUD RICE: Well, I was first hired in the summer of '83 and I was a backcountry ranger.
And then in the wintertime, I went to take some graduate courses, and I was investigating getting a masters degree.
And when I came back in '84, that's when the superintendent Dave Morris said, hey, we'd like to get you on as a Cooperative Ed student.
But there's no guarantee that I'd get a job at the end of it.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: In fact, they started this Natural Resource Intake Program, and they almost didn't hire me back, and were going to take an Intake person.
But -- but I had studied things that really prepared me to understand the marine environment, the glaciers, and I knew way more about the Kenai Peninsula than any Intake person would come close to.
KAREN BREWSTER: What's an intake?
BUD RICE: Well, it's a Natural Resource Intake Program, and they're trying to build up the natural resource program in the -- in the National Park Service nationwide.
So people went to these various training sessions around the country on how to run a natural resource management program.
They ended up hiring me anyway, and I think it worked out well. So I didn't get on permanent until '87, 1987, after I'd finished my masters project.
And I was actually sub -- originally a subject to furlough person, which I kind of liked.
It means you work eight months, then they lay you off for three to four months.
They didn't have a big budget at this park in the early days.
Well, that's fine. I'll go explore the world. So the first couple of winters I was able to do ski trips and do exploring, but in 1989, we had the Exxon Valdez oil spill.
RACHEL MASON: Right. BUD RICE: In April. I really only had one or two years of furlough.
Because after the Exxon Valdez oil spill, I was in high demand. I ended up working 16 hour days for months.
And I went from a GS 9, 11, 12. I mean, I just I ramped up, and the job got way complex and really busy and very stressful. And I was never subject to furlough again. Yeah.
The Exxon Valdez oil spill was a big game changer for the Gulf of Alaska. Yeah. Big game changer.
It was interesting because I had worked on seabird surveys, and marine mammal surveys, and so I really knew the resources out there. And coastal wildlife.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you were doing all kind of resource management type things?
BUD RICE: Oh, yeah, it wasn't just glaciers. Oh, yeah, I was doing everything. Yeah.
And getting people to do -- you know, backcountry rangers, hiring them, and have them do certain surveys and things I thought were important -- important indicators.
Might be standard species, we were looking at marbled murrelets, and so we were doing dawn surveys to try to get an idea of the population densities out there.
And then Fish & Wildlife came by later and assisted us. We did some nice projects out there on that.
And we were doing bald eagle nest surveys. We did -- I did some aerial surveys of mountain goats.
We were testing the difference of using helicopter versus fixed wing for counting goats. And I got one of the best Super Cub pilots around here who did a lot of sheep and goat surveys, Lyman Nichols who lived at Cooper Landing.
And -- and then we hired helicopter people.
And what we found in the study was that you could do a better count of the family groups with a helicopter because you can just hang there and hover and, you know, they're moving around.
Helicopter noise frightens the hell out of goats, so I really don't like doing that.
And we don't do it anymore, but what we found is we could get a more complete count of the large groups.
But individual single groups like single males and whatever, if they heard a helicopter coming, they'd duck behind a bush or rock and you'd fly -- you'd never see them. You didn't know they were there.
But in a Super Cub it's quieter, and they're used to planes more, and you fly around and you can get -- you get more single counts in the fixed wing, but you couldn't hang out and hover to count all the little nannies and kids in a large group of 20 to 30 animals.
So -- but anyway, what we found is that the population density of mountain goats on some of the peninsula's -- on Kenai were very, very high. Probably some of the best mountain goat habitat anywhere.
And occasionally you'd see a dead one. You know, they fall off cliffs or avalanches take them out.
I remember once we were tracking some goats and we saw a dead one, and not very far away, here were a couple wolverines moving in on the kill. They could smell it.
And there are a lot of wolverines out in the Kenai Peninsula. I'd see three or four wolverine in the summer as a backcountry ranger.
I'd see them on the coast of Katmai when I was backcountry out there, too, but I saw more in Kenai Fjords.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you think that those numbers have changed?
BUD RICE: For wolverine? I don't know. We were working with this guy, Bob Golden, with Fish and Game, he was really interested in fur bearers and wolverine. And they were doing other work in and around Kenai Fjords, and --
I don't think they've changed all that much.
The other thing we found that was quite interesting on the coast of Kenai Fjords was not only pretty good numbers of sea otter, before the spill, but pretty high numbers of river otter.
And they weren't necessarily in fresh water, they were out in the ocean. I saw a family -- frequently saw family groups of half a dozen to a dozen river otter.
And they're feeding in the intertidal, too. They're feeding on the mussels and the clams and the little fish that might be near shore or,
you know, there's streams and there's salmon runs there, and they go up in the streams and get young salmon and, you know, bigger salmon if you can catch them.
But a pretty healthy population of river otter and sea otter out there.
KAREN BREWSTER: Now, what year was that traverse that you made?
BUD RICE: Oh. Good question. If I can remember back. Might have been '89 or '90. I think it was 1990.
I think it was after the oil spill. Couldn't have been '89, we didn't do anything but oil spill work in '89, but it might have been '90 or '91.
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
BUD RICE: Yeah, I can probably look up in my notes. I kept detailed logbooks, especially as a backcountry ranger, and they've got all those down in the Kenai Fjords.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Well, as -- as Rachel explained, part of the purpose of this project is -- BUD RICE: Historical or -- KAREN BREWSTER: -- traditional -- BUD RICE: -- traditional use.
KAREN BREWSTER: What's traditional use of the Exit Glacier area, and that includes the whole, you know, Resurrection Valley, and so -- BUD RICE: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- either how you may have gone out and used this area, or -- BUD RICE: Right.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- or what you know about from your studies or from living in Seward -- BUD RICE: Uh hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- and working for the park BUD RICE: Uh hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- and marking the map and what you can tell us.
BUD RICE: Well, initially there was -- wasn't much of a road out here. There was a road that went to the Forest Service property here.
We didn't really have -- we had a hiking path up to Exit Glacier. The guy that pioneered the road was Herman Leirer. You've probably heard of him. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
BUD RICE: He's -- I don't think if he's alive anymore. KAREN BREWSTER: No, he's not.
BUD RICE: But he was the guy that -- that ran a dozer out there, and he says, you know, people need to see this place.
Because I think he -- he hiked and hunted out there, so he wanted to make it accessible to the public.
And he -- he was trying to make Seward kind of a destination place. He was, like, pre-park, but he realized the value of this and wanted the public to enjoy this.
And -- and before the park was established, there were, you know, these snowmobile tours, and people were flying up with Harbor Air.
And as you mentioned earlier, the Zimmerman family, they put a cabin up there and had a couple snowmobiles, they flew the snowmobiles up there, airlifted them up.
I think it was too steep to actually drive them up the Exit Glacier area.
And then they did tours out on the Harding Icefield.
And what they found was that it snowed so much that in about three years's time, the cabin was buried, they lost it and couldn't find it again. And they even left a snowmobile out there.
I think it's on the divide where this -- some year, a few hundred years out, it will be spit out and ground to bits, you know, at the terminus of Exit Glacier.
They even put a big flagpole on the top, and even that got buried. That's how much snow falls in this place.
After the first year or two, they started digging down to the thing, and pretty soon it's, like, way down and the cabin's way down there. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: It was unusable. So that was one of their uses.
Before that, there were people that skied across. The first guy to ski across that -- that actually traversed the Harding Icefield and came out at Exit Glacier, and how it got its name was Yule Kilcher out of Homer.
And he's a Swiss immigrant and actually started, you know, a dairy farm, or whatever, over in Katchemak Bay, but he was always curious about this place.
He was a mountaineer and skier, and he skied across the Harding Icefield and came out at Exit Glacier.
And then there was a pretty famous mountaineer -- and I've got a lot of this history in my book. I'm -- this has coming off the top of my head, but it's -- it's captured in black and white there in the book.
But Vin Hoeman and some of the early mountaineers who were doing, like, first ascents all around the Southcentral -- were part of the American Alpine Club, they skied across and they climbed -- they ascended the highest peak off the Harding Icefield, and those people generally exited at Exit Glacier, too.
So that became the way to get off the Harding Icefield because, well, it's pretty easy access to get to Seward and the road system from there --
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know -- BUD RICE: -- and that was in the '60s, I'm pretty sure the Hoeman's went out there.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. And Yule Kilcher was in the -- BUD RICE: -- '30s. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh hum. BUD RICE: Yeah. Late '30s.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know if Exit Glacier had a local Native name for it before it was called Exit Glacier?
BUD RICE: You know, I got some Native names, and most of them dealt with the big glaciers on the -- on the Cook Inlet side, but I wonder if I have that.
You know, I can't remember if Exit Glacier -- I don't think it did.
Because it was not a major glacier like Bear Glacier and the Tustumena Glacier. Tustumena is the Native name. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Right. BUD RICE: So that was -- and some of those glaciers on the west side had Native names.
Oh, here's Hoeman. '71. Chronicled the earliest known attempts to cross Harding Icefield on foot. Yule Kilcher, Swiss immigrant.
Oh, so I -- did it in '36, so a pretty good memory.
Oh. A wet storm so typical of the area caused Kilcher to stray into the mountains not shown on his map. He retraced his route back.
Oh, he started at Seward, and didn't get all the way across and came back. Oh, that's interesting.
Then according to Mrs. Smith, Hoeman, in 1971, Eugene "Coho" Smith and Don Rising skied cross the Harding Icefield from Bear Glacier near Seward to Tustumena Glacier in about 1940.
The men never reported their feat to the news media.
So, you know, it wasn't until late '36, '40s that anybody crossed the Harding Icefield.
During the summer of '63, Don Stockard of Seward led two others in an attempt to cross the ice field, but summer storms stopped them. I can understand that after getting in the fog.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. And all of these crossings are done in the summertime -- BUD RICE: Yes.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- I'm assuming.
BUD RICE: Oh, yeah. Well, here in December, 1966, Dave Johnson, who did a winter ascent of Denali.
Grace Jansen and Vin Hoeman failed an attempt to ascend Truuli Peak, which is the highest peak.
During April of '68, same three joined by several others, including Yule Kilcher, by then a Homer homesteader and State Senator, traversed the ice field from Homer to Seward.
They ascended via Chernof Glacier, another Native name, climbed Truuli Peak, and there the party crossed the ice field.
One of those people with them was Dave Spencer, who was the manager of the moose range, the Kenai Moose Range, which had then later became the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge which abuts Kenai Fjords National Park. They're adjacent.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so this is -- the '60s trip is when it was named Exit Glacier? This trip, this '68?
BUD RICE: Well, it might have been earlier. I think -- I think I say here --
KAREN BREWSTER: Descended via the glacier now labeled Exit Glacier.
BUD RICE: Oh. Yeah, that might be, but I'm wondering if Yule Kilcher even called it that earlier. He went up that way and came out that way. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.
BUD RICE: But it might have been because it was the first full traverse, and they left it -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: -- and they called it the Exit Glacier. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Exit Glacier.
BUD RICE: I'm not even sure it had a name before that.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, but we -- so, yeah, it was the question of whether it had a Native name before that.
BUD RICE: Yeah. See, we had Chernof, Tustumena, Truuli was a Native name. You know, a lot of those things on the west side.
I don't recall that there was any Native name, and maybe not that much Native use.
You know, the -- the Native people, there were some Native people on the Resurrection Bay, and -- and I don't know if they were -- actually lived there or were brought there by the Russians who came there,
and they built the first ship that was ever built in Alaska because there's good Sitka spruce around Seward.
And I don't know if I have it in this book, but the Russians were there, and they mapped all the terminus positions of the glaciers in Resurrection Bay and around the Kenai Peninsula.
and we since found, you know, trade centers in Aialik Bay. Jean Schaff did some work on that,
and they found, you know, old buttons and stuff that were traded with the Native people, and they had them out, you know, getting sea otter and, you know, fur trapping around the -- around the Fjords.
And some Native people lived near the edges of the terminus of glaciers, because that's where seals would haul out.
And so there are Native village sites around Northwest, we'll call it Northwestern Glacier, which is way out near the ocean more.
And so there's actually some old archeological sites. We found a few of them.
And then there was -- Petroff said there was a village on the south side of Kenai Peninsula, and I think I found the location in Yalik Bay.
Said there was a couple hundred or so people, and we found the places, there were, like, 17 large pits, you know, and these are barrabaras and -- and village centers, and that type of thing.
So I don't remember if I have that in here. Grewingk Glacier is another glacier on the west side, but that's closer to Homer.
I -- I just never could find any old -- I don't think -- and here's the map that shows the -- this is a map from the Archives in Fairbanks that shows that the Russians had mapped what they thought were the edge positions of the glaciers, and --
and if you zoom in, you can see the terminus, they had a little black thing for the Godwin Glacier right across from Seward.
And Bear Glacier, and here's Holgate Glacier, and here's Northwestern.
So we knew when the Russians were there in the late 1700s, that these glaciers were there.
And then the first USGS guys who really mapped this were Grant and -- I forget the other guy -- Grant Higgins in 1910, cruised around the Kenai Peninsula, and then they took photos and maps.
And now we have another guy with USGS that's doing some work on this, and he's doing these photo matches.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. BUD RICE: Oh, what's his name?
KAREN BREWSTER: Ken Tape, he's been doing it up on the Brooks Range.
BUD RICE: Oh. But now in the coastal tidewater glaciers. Oh, I'll think of that guy's name.
Bruce Molnia has been doing this, and so we've got photo montages of how the glaciers change in Glacier Bay and now also on Kenai Fjords and how tidewater glacier conditions,
but I know other people are doing these kind of photo matches -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: -- in interior glaciers.
KAREN BREWSTER: But Exit Glacier isn't -- this Russian mapping didn't include Exit Glacier
BUD RICE: No. I don't think they got -- KAREN BREWSTER: -- because it was not coastal.
BUD RICE: Well, they have sort of what they thought was a map of the ice field here, but they didn't really get up to Exit Glacier. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: I don't think they did. They didn't go inland very much.
KAREN BREWSTER: So have you noticed when you were, you know, in Seward and Exit Glacier in the early '80s, have you noticed how the glacier has changed?
BUD RICE: Yeah. Oh, God. I hadn't been there in a while, you know, because I worked there so much, it's like, I need to explore other places I haven't been to.
I went to Exit Glacier this summer with -- with the head planner for National Park Service units, and we met up with Superintendent Jeff Mau.
And we looked at Exit Glacier and he was talking about how they had to keep adjusting the trails, and now we've got rocks that are being exposed where Exit Glacier ice has melted back, and where we used to have ice climbers, we have rock climbers.
He says, I've got a different management regime now, we have to keep pushing trails back.
And I was walking around and I was -- my jaw just dropped, and I was stunned.
First off, view points that we set up for visitors looking at the Exit were blocked by trees and, you know, alder and, you know, big bushes in sight, they had to keep doing thinning and you couldn't see anything.
It's like, phew, well, this has really changed. And then we walked on the trails and I was talking to the planner, Jeff, says, I can't believe this.
I said, where we're standing now, when I was here doing my studies, we'd be under a hundred feet of ice.
And there's just nothing here, and the glacier is, like, a half a mile back, and it's really thinned down, there's all this exposed bare ground.
It's like, wow. This is dramatic. Dramatic change. A lot of volume.
And that's a small glacier, really, compared to the others. And so I know the same thing's going on at -- Bear Glacier is rapidly receding, and Northwestern is going back, we're seeing rocks exposed where we didn't know they existed, and it's really changing.
The McCarty Glacier had receded a long time ago. I did that in my study, that one and Northwestern were rapidly receding.
And McCarty may be re advancing, but if the whole thing thins down, they're all going recede. So -- but Exit Glacier is dramatic retreat and thinning of the ice there.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what are the implications of that for the -- BUD RICE: For the Park Service? Or...
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I was thinking for the rest of the area from a biological or physiological standpoint.
BUD RICE: Oh, that's an interesting point. Yeah, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: But also for the Park Service.
BUD RICE: Okay. Well, I had some thoughts, and I addressed that in my master’s paper.
Well, one is we have -- as we mentioned, we have to adjust the trails and access to -- people want to go up to Exit Glacier, it's one of these things successfully you can touch the glacier ice.
You know. And it's laying back now. There's no big overhanging ice like there used to be.
And there was a woman that had a block of ice that fell and crushed her in 1987, shortly after I finished my masters, and that was a bit controversial.
And I wrote in my paper, I said, you know, we have a safety issue here, we have a lot of -- hundreds of people now coming here because we've increased the accessibility with a bridge, and then we added some people that drive in there.
And -- and we had little maps and signs, but people wander around and taking photos, and this guy took a photo of his wife standing underneath some blocks of ice, and one piece broke.
And the glacier is moving. Fell and hit her, killed her. It was not good.
So then we ended up putting a bunch of rangers and signs, we had ropes, and tell people, you know, where there's steep ice or potential for ice fall, we don't want anybody going in there.
And so it's not as hazardous as it used to be. It's really melted back, the ice is laid back, it's not this big thing.
One of the things we did in our study of Exit Glacier is we, in working with Matthew Sturm, then at UAF, now with CRREL, in Fairbanks, but is that we put markers on this, and we got down below Exit Glacier and we set up a geodometer which can measure distance to millimeters.
And we had this laser -- set up these little prism things, and you'd shoot them, you'd search with the laser until you hit it, and you get a reflective beam, and you could get the distance really accurately.
So we put these markers on tripods and got the distance, and then we came back a couple months later and measured, the tripods were moving down the glacier.
And in fact, if I recall this correctly, we figured that the glacier was moving downhill 50 centimeters, half a meter a day, that's about 2 feet a day.
It's moving. It looks like a static thing. It's moving. It's moving that fast.
And so Exit Glacier is moving fast, so every once in awhile a piece of ice is going to move and hit the edge and fall off, or it's melting back, one or the other.
So nowadays, it's melting back in the summer faster than it's moving down.
And the melt rate back is quicker than the advance rate down the valley.
When I was doing my masters project, I -- I looked for other features, like here on this side glacier that feeds into Bear Glacier, it's very steep,
and you get ice that kind of goes over in seasons, and so you get these waves that are called ogives, and you can see these things.
Well, during the 1964 earthquake, we had -- you know, rock was shook off cliffs around bushes and all over the place, and one rock band went way out into this feeder, and you could see the rock moving down there, so I -- I could look at paired photos and figure out -- and then measure the distance how far this rockfall moved down Bear Glacier.
And I figured out it was moving in a similar rate as Exit Glacier, about 2 to 3 feet a day.
But really, the rate of flow of ice depends on the slope angle. Exit Glacier is pretty steep. So is this thing.
Of these other bigger glaciers, they get out, it's just like water that gets into a pooled area, and it's going to move slower and spread around.
And so the rate of flow depends on the -- on the -- on the slope angle.
What we don't know sometimes is the rate of flow of the ice at the base of the glacier.
Because of friction, it's usually a little slower and it's -- and it's grabbing stuff.
And so there was a guy, Bob Satin, that worked at Kenai Fjords after I was there, and he decided he was going to throw some sort of radio transmitter into a crevasse in Exit Glacier.
And he built these things and he said, well, you know, it could get crushed, so he put it -- he built this transceiver and put it in plastic that was about the same density as ice.
He figured out a plastic and put his transmitter and it was beaming, and he'd toss these things in there and -- and it worked, until it, you know, came down towards the terminus of the glacier.
And -- and it was a similar rate of flow, as I recall. At depth, in Exit Glacier, you toss it down 2 to 300 feet in a crevasse, you know, and then we'd go around with these radio signals, you get right over and you can get the signal up.
And he may have done some triangulation to figure out the exact point where that thing was, but -- so that was a really neat follow on study in Exit Glacier to verify the rate of flow of the ice.
KAREN BREWSTER: I'm going to make an adjustment here because this is making noise.
BUD RICE: Oh. When I move it and you can hear that? KAREN BREWSTER: Yes.
BUD RICE: Okay. Sorry. Okay. So we went over a little bit of the history of who used -- crossed Exit Glacier. There were other people that lived at Seward that -- that drove up Herman Leirer's road, and they would hike up there.
And in the early days there was no -- we put a foot bridge in there at first.
And in the early days, people would either take a boat up and canoe a boat off or wade if the water is low, but the water is generally too deep to wade that thing.
The Resurrection River, except maybe in late fall, you know, things are starting to freeze up, you might be able to get across.
But -- so most people would take the canoe or a raft or something and get across, and they would go up to Exit Glacier.
And some people were going ptarmigan hunting, in the old days before it was a park, they'd go mountain goat hunting because there's goats in there and stuff.
And there are brown bear and moose in this valley. People would moose hunt up Resurrection River Valley.
Local Seward people, you go up that way. And a lot of people would take their dogs even.
And then we -- after it was a park and we got the road, we didn't allow dogs.
And I remember this guy Gar -- what was Gar's -- Gar Wong, I think, was his name, he was a haircutter in Seward, and he was really upset with that rule.
I don't like that rule. Jeez, I've been -- I've been doing this traditionally now for years before it was a park. How come I can't keep doing this?
He didn't like it. So we had -- we heard those kinds of things.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that was one of my questions is you were there right, you know, when the park was --
BUD RICE: Really getting started. KAREN BREWSTER: -- new. And what were the reactions of people in town about that?
BUD RICE: You know, and another person you might want to talk to who has worked there a couple years before me who worked in this office is John Morris.
He was one of the first rangers and interpreters out of Seward, so he would have a better feel for even earlier.
I got there in '83 but he was there in '81, I think. KAREN BREWSTER: So he --
BUD RICE: ANILCA passed in 1980, and then we had people on site in 1980. It was just a handful of people.
KAREN BREWSTER: Right. So, but by '83, you know, what was the sense in the community of having this park?
BUD RICE: Oh, well, good question. Originally, the City of Seward passed a resolution opposing the formation of the Kenai Fjords National Park, they didn't like it.
And they wanted to do their boat tours and they wanted to do their trips to Exit Glacier and they didn't want anything to change from what it was, and their concern about, you know, their snowmobile tourists.
And ANILCA actually allows for mechanized, motorized use on the Harding Icefield because we recognized then that there -- there was this -- this prior use, the establishment, and it's pretty unusual for, you know,
allowing people to have a recreational business using snowmobiles and, you know, mechanized uses, and had a cabin.
That was short lived because it got buried, but it's still allowed.
And then when I was a ranger here, there was -- Harbor Air wanted to establish a new cabin on a nunatak. And we figured it wouldn't be buried.
Near the headwaters of Aialik Glacier and go out and do glacier tours, you know, with snowmobiles and take people out in the safe places and away from the crevasses, and have, you know, like a glacier ice cocktail, and all this sort of thing.
We wrote the EA and we looked for travel routes where it would be the least disturbing to wildlife and people.
We didn't want them flying up over Exit Glacier because there's now getting to be thousands of people going there, so we figured other routes.
Then Harbor Air cracked a plane into the side of a mountain in Kenai Fjords. Killed a couple of people, and they folded. Their insurance went bad. And it never happened.
So we never got a con -- a new concession on the Harding Icefield because of the plane wreck.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what year would that have been that they were trying to do that?
BUD RICE: I worked on that EA, it was probably about '85, '86 they were looking into that. It was before the Exxon Valdez spill.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know, did they have a specific location that you could mark on the map where you were looking at? BUD RICE: I need a bigger map. It was --
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay. It was farther out.
BUD RICE: Yeah, it's farther south. And we've got the EA, I'm sure, in the files someplace and we can show you exactly, but it was on a nunatak near the headwaters of Aialik Glacier.
And the reason we picked the nunataks is that these things weren't getting buried .
You weren't sinking into the ice like the experiment up here at the headwaters of Exit Glacier, so we figured you got to fix this thing to a rock.
And we know that the winds can be horrendous up there.
So one of the ideas was to maybe make it a Quonset hut or wall tent, and take the thing down at the end of the season and then relocate it in the summertime because no guarantees it's going to survive the winters.
One of the things we did on the edge of Harding Icefield is I remember hiking up a nunatak out here, and we have since -- it's either this one or this one -- we have since put a weather station on that and cabled it in.
And after the first couple years, that thing just got twisted and a little bit mangled.
So we have to go up there and reinforce it all the time, but we've got it to where it operates now.
KAREN BREWSTER: Can you mark where that was?
BUD RICE: Tetreau was actually -- it was put up after I was there. It's either on this nunatak or it's on this rock here. I can't tell you for sure.
I know it's somewhere near the headwaters of Bear Glacier. I think it's here, and there's a weather station, but it's on the rock.
We didn't want to put it on the ice because we know that that would disappear in time, so --
And the idea was to get an idea of the winds, and we've clocked some winds over a hundred. And the amount of precipitation, temperatures, and that kind of thing.
So we're getting it -- we got that data.
And now we're putting other weather stations elsewhere on remote places with these remote automated weather stations. And so we've got one on -- near a radio repeater down at McArthur Pass, way down the south end of the park.
So we're starting to do some of those because of climate change effects and how it's affecting, you know, things like glaciers and such, so we want to get a better handle on that.
It's very controversial in wilderness areas in the Brooks Range. Jump ahead to that story where we wanted to -- some people with inventory monitoring program wanted to put weather stations out at, you know, key locations in the Brooks Range.
And the wilderness guys are saying you -- you can't have a permanent structure in the wilderness, so it's -- it's a raging discussion right now, we're struggling with that with the Park Service.
KAREN BREWSTER: So when you lived in Seward, did you go up and use this Exit Glacier area? I mean you obviously did the -- BUD RICE: Oh, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- traverse, but how did you use this area?
BUD RICE: Oh. Oh. Good question. Well, in the wintertime, -- I had a dog. It was an abandoned dog by gold miners at Nuka Bay. I'll tell that little story.
The dog was called, by the miners, it was called "Color," because they were looking for gold and they called it Color.
And it was -- it was a black and white husky type dog. And they abandoned it, they left it there.
Survived the winter on her own somehow. Eating mussels and clams.
And this dog could catch ptarmigan and grouse. After I owned her I watched her kill birds and eat them head first, by the way, and they can't go anywhere when the head's gone, and then they eat the rest of the bird, take their time.
But -- and I'm sure she found the occasional goat that got killed in an avalanche and would dig it out.
I know this because I skied on a mountain nearby, and the dog dug out a moose that died in a winter storm.
She dug through three foot of snow and found a yearling moose that had been killed in an early season winter storm, so this dog could smell stuff and find food.
Well, anyway, so I would skijor out Exit Glacier Road with this dog after I owned her. And the next miner that picked her up called her Dummy.
And she came in half starved in the winter, and he left her a second winter, then told us the story, and I said, oh, my God,
we don't want a feral dog out here, I don't want the dog to suffer, so I took the dog out, and didn't know what I was going to do with the dog, ended up keeping it.
I stayed at Bardarson's house, Dot Bardarson, the artist that I want you to look up later, and the dog ended up scratching her door, she didn't like that, so I had bought a little house in Seward so I could have this dog. Couldn't believe it. It was funny.
But anyway, I called the dog Sunny, S U N N Y, because I figured this dog is bright. The dog lived to be 16.
And we skied all over the place. I skied up the Iditarod Trail with this dog.
But anyway, so we would ski up and down Exit Glacier Road, and then eventually we built cabins, and you know, and we would pack -- I would groom trails, and I used to fish for winter use for the locals mostly.
But also the Army had a rec center and they would take people out there, and so we set it up for skiing and snowmobiling. So that was use.
And in the summertime, you know, when I was wasn't busy working out in the Fjords or whatever, I loved hiking up the mountains here.
I hiked all these mountain ridges surrounding Exit Glacier, and -- and I'm always looking for wild and unusual plants.
I found a poppy up there, it's called Papaver alboroseum. Alboroseum, which is the rosy poppy, it's a high elevation thing.
And in those days there were not many populations of that particular poppy known, but here it was.
And we were building a trail up there, and I said, oh, we've got to be careful where we locate this trail, we don't want to wipe out what's left of this poppy here.
And so I shared that information with Dave Murray, who was the curator at the herbarium at Fairbanks, et cetera, and he would always put these new maps in Hulten’s, you know, "The Flora of Alaska," and pretty soon after awhile other people hiking on the mountains found other locations of the -- of the pale poppy or the pink poppy.
It has a slight pink color to it, and it went off the threatened list because it's more widespread than -- but, you know, we didn't know that in the early days, so we were trying to be careful.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you know where you found it -- BUD RICE: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: -- is that something you could mark?
BUD RICE: Oh, yeah, the poppy. Well, the trail winds up here, it's pretty near -- it's in the alpine. Poppies. Pink poppy.
KAREN BREWSTER: I didn't know there was an alpine poppy.
BUD RICE: Oh, yeah. There are a lot of arctic -- and poppies do pretty well in arctic and alpine conditions, but this was an unusual one because having studied plants at UC Berkeley, I knew it was a poppy,
and then I keyed it out, Papaver alboroseum, it's like, it's not supposed to be here. I'd look at Hulten and he'd say, well, that's what it is,
but his maps don't show it anywhere's near here, so that's how I -- I would contact -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: -- and I'd get a voucher specimen and share it with the university, et cetera, so...
I -- I built an herbarium at -- for Kenai Fjords, see, because wandering around the Fjords, you know, and fringe, no plants in the ice field, but I was always --
I'm always curious about what plant life lives here and that effects what animal life lives in that area, and so we -- I built an herbarium from scratch at Kenai Fjords.
And I think it's in our -- it's in our -- what do you call our collections here? The archives.
RACHEL MASON: The archives. BUD RICE: Curated here. Yeah. So -- and --
KAREN BREWSTER: But so people were -- you said they were skiing up the Exit Glacier. Did people go up the river valley or did they always stick to the road?
BUD RICE: Pretty much stick to the road. And -- and the mushers that go up there, the Hollingsworth family that mush up there, they put a trail mostly in the road, but they will make turn arounds that go for portions on -- on the river.
It's generally pretty windy on the Resurrection River in the winter, and the road is kind of on the edge of the woods mostly, and some places exposed, but it's nasty out there in the wintertime.
You're going into 30, 40 mile an hour wind, and it's, you know, 10 to zero degrees, and the farther up towards the glaciers you get, the colder it gets.
It's tough. You don't like being in the wind. And -- and the winds are so strong that a lot of times rocks are exposed, and it's not great mushing or skiing on the rocks.
So we'll stay where the snow gets to positive because the trees slow the winds down, and snow falls out, and you get deep snow there, and it's fine.
And usually the closer you got to Seward, you know, the less snow you got because you get rain and snow and mixed there, even -- KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
BUD RICE: -- through the winter. And you get a lot of north winds coming down Resurrection River Valley and in here.
And what makes Seward kind of cold in the wintertime is the north wind. Temperature wise, it's not that bad, because you've got the ocean influence, but brutal north winds.
Makes it cold. And it's snowy.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what about snow machine use? BUD RICE: Yeah, that's --
KAREN BREWSTER: Could you talk about that a little.
BUD RICE: -- much increased. Very much increased.
And I did a little bit there, mostly groomed trails, and took some Park Service people from Anchorage out there up to Exit Glacier, and they said, oh, wow, this is so neat to see this in the wintertime.
And we do a little loop out in the -- on the outwash plain in front of Exit Glacier, but the Park Service didn't want snowmobiling to just go rampant out of control, even though it's allowed, so we -- that's one reason why we groom trails and try to define it.
We didn't want people going all over the place driving moose and other wildlife, you know, out of the area, and also you could stress them.
We have to stop? Okay.
But the Army Rec Center did -- now has a fleet of snowmobiles, and they trailer them over to Exit Glacier Road.
And -- and Exit Glacier Road has been relocated since I worked there, and it, you know, goes out along the edge of the Resurrection River, so you have got a lot of nice mountain views, but there's a couple of different gates.
So depending on how thick the snow is, they'll open the road to Mile 4, and then people start there, but, you know, by this time of year, generally it moves back to Mile 1 and a half, and there's a gate there, and that's where people start skiing or dog mushing or snowmobiling.
And then they -- most people just follow the road. Like I said, you don't even want a snowmobile on the rocks either. You can.
It's tough on the machine, and the military and others don't want to have to buy a new track every year or so.
KAREN BREWSTER: I mean, is there open water on that river?
BUD RICE: And there can be open water because it's moving pretty fast. Yeah. So you -- or you might have thin ice, you think it looks good, and then you crash through. That's not good.