This is the continuation of an interview with Page Spencer by Rachel Mason and Karen Brewster on May 12, 2011 at the offices of the National Park Service in Anchorage, Alaska. In this second part of a two part interview, Page talks about cross-country skiing in the Exit Glacier area, changes in the glacier and animal populations, collecting mushrooms, impacts from snowmachines, and park management issues.
Digital Asset Information
Project: Exit Glacier, Kenai Fjords National Park
Date of Interview: May 12, 2011
Narrator(s): Page Spencer
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster, Rachel Mason
Transcriber: Carol McCue
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Personal recreational uses of the Exit Glacier area
Changes in Exit Glacier and animal populations
Cross-country skiing to Exit Glacier
Lost Lake Trail and impacts from snowmachines
Use of snowmachines in the Exit Glacier valley
Access to the area by airplane
Items buried and found in the glacier
Mountain goats and sheeps
New places wanting to visit in the area
Management of the Exit Glacier area
Scientific importance of Exit Glacier
Changes from the Exit Glacier Road
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RACHEL MASON: The -- the -- the only big part that I still want to ask you about is just your uses of the Exit Glacier, just your experiences.
PAGE SPENCER: My personal experience.
RACHEL MASON: Your personal experience with Exit Glacier. And are we on the air?
KAREN BREWSTER: Yes. RACHEL MASON: Okay.
PAGE SPENCER: So I don't remember, there may have been a trip or two out there as a -- as a young person, you know, as a child,
but my main use of it came when I started dating Bud and we would go out there. So that would have been in '88.
And one of our first dates was to ski out there and spend the night in that God awful thing that
Denver had -- had invented for us, it was a picnic shelter with sides on it.
So it was a real deep snow year, and there literally was a foot of water in the bottom of this, and we spent the night kind of working from bench to table, bench to table, you know,
and the dogs were all perched on the ends of the benches trying to keep their feet dry. It was -- entertaining.
So -- but we -- you know, the road would be closed at about where the current maintenance facility is.
And so we'd just take packs or -- You know, it's a pretty easy skate ski in the spring.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Can you mark the place where the road would close normally?
PAGE SPENCER: I think it's right here at this bend, right where the maintenance facility is.
RACHEL MASON: Okay. And then you'd ski up from there?
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah. Ski up this way. They just didn't maintain it, and it was -- it was gravel.
There was no -- I do remember going out there before the bridge was put in, and
so, you know, we'd kind of have to work our way across the Resurrection River there.
And in the winter you kind of have to go upstream and find a place across on the ice.
We went also upstream to where that old cabin is, there's an old cabin, I forget where it is.
KAREN BREWSTER: At Placer Creek?
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah, Placer Creek. And I've seen that the -- that creek that has come down and filled that cabin with gravel,
but we spent the night in there a couple times, you know, and went up there.
So it was -- you know, it was a habitable cabin at that time, and so we used that a few times.
But, you know, mostly just go out there and ski around, and I did a lot of hiking out there, you know, I guess even before I met Bud. The goats would come right down on in.
And it just was, you know, a beautiful place to explore and to see how glaciers behaved right up close, you know. It was right there.
RACHEL MASON: Did you see other people using it recreationally?
PAGE SPENCER: We would see other skiers out there. You know, there was kind of a ski community in Seward, a backcountry skiing community.
Denny -- I don't remember -- I'm sorry, the names are --
Kim and Charlie, Kim Blummell (phonetic), Charlie Krangel (phonetic). Denny. Steve.
Jim Pfeiffenberger later on, you know, he kind of came out.
When Tetreau showed up, he was -- you know, he was staying out there originally.
So there was, you know, kind of a group of people and whoever we could gather up of an afternoon, we'd just go out there.
So -- and, you know, we'd do that several times a year, you know, just because it was beautiful and a fun destination, take a lunch and, you know, ski all around.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
PAGE SPENCER: We didn't go up to -- onto the ice much and we didn't go up the sides much.
In the summertime, you could, but in the winter, it was kind of avalanchey, and so we didn't do much with that.
RACHEL MASON: Have you observed many changes in the glacier itself since you first started going there?
PAGE SPENCER: Just mostly the retreat of it. You know, it was quite a bit further out, as I recall, when --
when we first started going there, and I just kind of see it getting sucked up the hill.
But, you know, those little push moraines, you could see that it's kind of --
it's not as drastic a retreat as I've seen in a lot of other glaciers, you know, that I've spent a lot of time around. So --
RACHEL MASON: Or changes in the species of animals that are around, like you mentioned that goats used to come down.
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah. I don't -- you know, goats were a frequent site down there, right down in the valley and on the rocks and, you know, in the wintertime.
I think mostly it's just because there's so many people out there now, and even in the winter, you know, with the machinery, they no longer come down to the --
you know, they were crossing the valley, I think is what they were doing, and I don't think they do that much anymore.
RACHEL MASON: How would you explain the change?
PAGE SPENCER: Well, it's just there's too many humans. And they're noisy. RACHEL MASON: Okay.
PAGE SPENCER: And goats are shy.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Have you noticed any moose, differences in the moose populations or bears? Or --
PAGE SPENCER: More bears. There're definitely more bears.
RACHEL MASON: What kind of bears?
PAGE SPENCER: Blacks. Yeah, the black bears.
I haven't seen as many black bears just right in the Exit country, but you know, you see their tracks.
And -- and just basically the Kenai as a whole, the bear population is much more visible now than it was when I was a child.
And that's both blacks and browns. A lot more bears. Probably --
RACHEL MASON: How would you explain that?
PAGE SPENCER: I don't think we're hunting them as much. RACHEL MASON: Oh.
PAGE SPENCER: You know. But they now regularly are cleaning out my berry patch.
I never, ever thought about bears as a child. It simply was not on my radar.
And my, you know, dad never carried a firearm. You know, we never -- it just was not an issue. And now it's an issue.
RACHEL MASON: It is. It is.
PAGE SPENCER: I do not berry pick without a bear spray on my belt.
And, you know, frequently -- and I'm picking the same patches, you know, the same locations,
and there will be big mounds of strawberry colored bear poop in the middle of my patch. And smells like fish. RACHEL MASON: Strawberry -- yeah.
PAGE SPENCER: He's been eating my cranberries. So yeah, there's a lot.
In my opinion, and I don't have the numbers, but there's a lot more bears and a lot fewer moose.
That balance has changed.
I don't know what the caribou, this is the caribou/wolf introductions out on the Kenai, both of those introductions have kind of changed the dynamics.
The habitat, of course, has changed drastically.
The other big change that I see for this part of the world is that deer are coming in from Prince William Sound.
And if deer get a foothold over in here, we are SOL. You know.
RACHEL MASON: Why is that?
PAGE SPENCER: The -- they're another browser and they are very prolific.
And we could wind up in a situation like many of the parks Outside, you know, where you've got deer starving under the steps,
and no politically expedient way to take care of the issue.
So I think the deer are coming over the Sergeants Ice Field or from Nellie Juan, and then down the Snow River, and then, you know, coming just right -- right on in through here.
So it's an easy walk. And I haven't myself seen deer out here, but I've certainly heard numerous reports of them.
And if they start surviving the winters and reproducing --
RACHEL MASON: Were they an introduced species in Prince William Sound also?
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah, they were. Yeah. They were introduced into Prince William Sound from Southeast, just like they were on Kodiak. Yeah. RACHEL MASON: In Kodiak. Yeah. PAGE SPENCER: Right. Yeah.
RACHEL MASON: I'm familiar with the deer on Kodiak with their and -- PAGE SPENCER: Oh, yeah. RACHEL MASON: -- they seem pretty prolific.
PAGE SPENCER: Tasty little buggers.
KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I'm going to get us back to the Exit Glacier. PAGE SPENCER: Okay.
KAREN BREWSTER: On the ski trips, what season, like how early in the winter could you start skiing out there and how late did it go?
PAGE SPENCER: We could probably start about Thanksgiving.
You know, it would be cold because it's in a shadow, but that would be a tour.
And we'd usually stay on the road because the glacier -- the river itself would not be frozen and snowed up.
And then as you start moving into -- past Solstice and into January and February, you get a lot better snowpack,
and then we could start moving down onto the river and touring.
So we'd use heavy or big skis. We never telemarked in this country because of the avalanche danger.
And then as we move into March and the snowpack starts hardening up, and the river has got, you know, ice shelves on it and whatnot, we could start skate skiing up there.
And it's often go in the morning. Or if the snowpack wasn't thick and the crust was good, you know, you could ski most of the day up in there.
KAREN BREWSTER: And you could still be out on the river in March?
PAGE SPENCER: Oh, yeah. Yeah. That would be -- that would be the best.
And into April, you know. And sometimes you'd have to walk, you know, the mud, you'd have to walk the dirt for a while,
and then you could step down onto the river and go on up on the ice shelves.
RACHEL MASON: Did you ever know anybody that did -- that took horses up there? Is it -- rode horseback up there?
PAGE SPENCER: Not aware of that. Yeah. I don't know.
RACHEL MASON: Or how about dog sleds?
PAGE SPENCER: I'm not personally aware of it except for that operation they have up on the -- on the ice field. Yeah.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, yeah. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: But -- so what years were you -- I mean, we know you were down there for the oil spill.
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: But did you live down in Seward for --
PAGE SPENCER: I never lived in Seward except for the oil spill, and except for -- so Bud lived in Seward.
And so during our marriage, I still lived in Anchorage and I would spend the weekends with him.
That's sort of living there.
KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So these ski trips were in, like, what years are we talking about?
PAGE SPENCER: Probably -- I started before I met him, so '87, '86, through the middle '90s, probably a solid decade --
KAREN BREWSTER: Okay.
PAGE SPENCER: -- with Bud. And then I haven't done many ski trips since then.
I've done, you know, a fair amount of hiking, there's -- (whispering) there's morels down there.
And so I go down to get those.
KAREN BREWSTER: It's interesting, nobody's mentioned those.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. Nobody has mentioned them.
KAREN BREWSTER: You don't have to tell us your secret spot -- PAGE SPENCER: Okay.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- because you want to keep that secret, but in that general vicinity? In the valley? In that valley someplace?
PAGE SPENCER: In the valley someplace under the cottonwood trees, in the oldest durbans.
RACHEL MASON: That's good information.
KAREN BREWSTER: Bud told us about the pink poppy discovery, so you know, we're botanizing, you know. So, it's okay. PAGE SPENCER: Yeah, just pure botanizing. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah. So there are morels there in June, and I go in to get those sometimes. And...
RACHEL MASON: How did you discover them?
PAGE SPENCER: I think I was down there with Craig Axtell, who was the associate regional director for resources or something, giving him a tour.
And we were going up the Exit Glacier trail, and all of a sudden it's, like, oh, my, excuse me, Craig, I'll just be back in a minute.
KAREN BREWSTER: But so that wasn't something you did as a family growing up, mushroom collecting?
PAGE SPENCER: Not -- not over here, no.
We did -- yeah, we'd -- we'd do some mushrooms, but we didn't come all the way over here.
I mean, this was a long drive. This was an expedition from Kenai.
And so when we would come over here with sailboat or to come over for hiking, we would do the Lost Lake Trail.
You know, it was a three or four day trip to come to Seward to do something.
And -- and so we'd do the Lost Lake Trail in the -- we'd hike that; and we would ski, ski this bowl.
And with Bud, again, I skied this country, the Lost Lake country, and Mount Ascension and all that.
Before the snow machines came in. We skied this, telemarked it a lot.
And Mount Marathon, you could ski that back bowl, you know, it was a lot of fun.
But with the snow machine, advent of snow machines, it's just no longer even a safe trip, and it's certainly not a pleasant trip.
So, you know, the Lost Lake Trail is just like this, just trench, you know, it was pretty steep.
And so here you are trying to get up it, and snow machines come barreling down, and they don't see you, they don't see your dogs, there's no way out.
It just is no longer a safe situation.
So -- so backcountry telemarkers have pretty much abandoned this whole country to snow machiners.
RACHEL MASON: Were there some really big avalanches that everybody found out about or -- PAGE SPENCER: In --
RACHEL MASON: In the past, I don't know, in the past decade or past 20 years?
PAGE SPENCER: No. There's been a few avalanche prone years. You know, they happen about once a decade.
And I did notice out here at Exit, you know, they would be coming off the sides of the mountains, you know, kind of between now what's the parking lot and the glacier.
And we found a goat carcass out there one year, you know, somebody had gotten swept off.
RACHEL MASON: Have there been more avalanches now in recent years than there were in the past, I guess, is one --
PAGE SPENCER: That's hard to say because those -- those years when there's big -- a lot of big avalanches, there's big snowpack, and then the conditions are set up.
RACHEL MASON: Right.
PAGE SPENCER: And, you know, so the year that the -- the bulldozer got swept into the inlet, that was a big year.
'80 -- I think '89 was a big snow year, and so there were a lot of avalanches then.
But there seemed to -- you know, they come with the snowpack, and then that -- and how it sets up in the fall.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. PAGE SPENCER: And so how the layers are in there.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah. So you don't see a trend towards more of them with climate change or anything?
PAGE SPENCER: Not -- not that I've actually observed and collected data for.
KAREN BREWSTER: So when you guys were skiing up the Exit Glacier Valley, and on the river, on the road, what was your encounters with snow machines back then in the '80s and '90s?
PAGE SPENCER: I don't remember encountering them at all. And I don't remember the tracks.
You know, so perhaps as we got into the middle '90s, there might be some on the road, but I do not remember snow machines.
It was pretty quiet and -- and the tracks are really obnoxious, and so I don't remember the tracks being on there, either.
RACHEL MASON: When did you first start noticing the snow machines?
PAGE SPENCER: I would say probably by the middle '90s, early to middle '90s they've start going in there.
RACHEL MASON: And have you seen any other impacts of snow machining other than the tracks?
PAGE SPENCER: You may not even want to get me started on this. Yeah.
So there's, you know, the hydrocarbons in the water, there's the noise factor, there's the disturbance to the wildlife,
there's the tracks in the snow, there's the bandit, even when the areas are closed, there are bandits.
For reasons I truly can't comprehend a single skier in bright Lycra is like a magnet to them.
And even though you want to have a solitary experience, they won't let you have it.
And I have been -- I have been surrounded by snow machines when I've been up high and far in the mountains, and I don't know why they feel this is necessary, but they do.
RACHEL MASON: Are they trying to be friendly?
PAGE SPENCER: Yes, they're trying to be friendly.
And -- and so -- and the reality of the situation is if I ever get hurt, you know, I will need them,
so I try not to be too rude, but the reality of this is they are not a favorable part of my recreation experience.
So much for the editorial.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah, that's great.
KAREN BREWSTER: That's good. In this Exit Glacier area, it's mixed use.
PAGE SPENCER: Right. Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And there's people who have different experiences and different expectations and desires for different experiences.
And it's all the perspectives are part of it.
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah. And there were times, you know, when it was non motorized up --
up in the valley, so that the snow machines went on up the Resurrection Trail, you know, that way, and on to Cooper Lake,
but the actual valley of the Exit Glacier was not motorized. And I don't know what it is right now.
KAREN BREWSTER: And so do you remember when that was that it was non-motorized?
PAGE SPENCER: That was, again, in the late '80s, early '90s.
You know, they -- they might take a snow machine in to resupply the person who is staying at the lodge,
or at the pottom (phonetic) there, they had a volunteer that would spend the winter there.
But I think, you know, they tried to supply most of them before the snow came, and then, you know, there would just be --
bring out sleds or packs of stuff to people. And they could also go into town if they needed.
KAREN BREWSTER: I didn't realize that you could get all the way up Resurrection Trail to Cooper Lake by snow machine. That that's passable.
PAGE SPENCER: It is. The bark beetle has put a lot of trees down, and I think the Forest Service is kind of clearing it out, but I think it's good now.
Yeah. It's -- when there's enough snow, it's passable.
And yeah, it goes all the way up here, and the trail, you know, goes up the side.
KAREN BREWSTER: Go ahead, you can write it.
PAGE SPENCER: So this is the trail, and it's all -- it's hard -- it's hard to find this Y in the winter, but it goes to Cooper Lake here,
and Kenai Lake, you know, I think the Forest Service built a big parking lot down there for snow machines.
And then it accesses here, and on down the Russian, as well, so yeah. This whole -- the whole area.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you want to write just "snow machine" right along there -- PAGE SPENCER: Okay.
KAREN BREWSTER: -- and we'll know what that is. Thank you.
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah. And it's also a ski trail, too, but you know, after a snow machine uses the trail much, especially these new big ones, the trail gets so huckle de buck that you can no longer ski it
because the -- the divots are so big that it's no longer accessible for -- for a skier.
And/or -- or most of anything, you know. It's --
RACHEL MASON: Well, what about planes? Are there places that are accessible in the winter by -- by plane?
PAGE SPENCER: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. All it takes is skis.
So all of Upper Russian, this is a plenty big lake. Cooper Lake not so big -- not so good because it draws down.
RACHEL MASON: You'd want to land on a lake?
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah. The swamps aren't real good out here.
We were looking at this lake. And then, you know, up here on top and well into the summer, if the snowpack is good, you can -- you can bring a ski plane up here and land.
And my friend Rob Rutherford apparently landed up here, again, it was probably in the middle '80s.
RACHEL MASON: Do you want to mark about where he did.
PAGE SPENCER: I don't know, Rob's landing. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
PAGE SPENCER: But anyway, it was a new snowpack and, you know, it was a beautiful day, and so he came in and he landed, and by the time everything stopped, he's looking at the snow level even with his windows.
And he is, like, 4 feet deep in snow.
RACHEL MASON: Wow. That would be scary.
PAGE SPENCER: And it's late in the afternoon, so he got to spend the night in his plane, and then he had to snowshoe himself out, you know, a -- a way up to the surface, and then a track out. So --
RACHEL MASON: Leaving the plane there to melt?
PAGE SPENCER: No, no, he managed to get it out, but that's a real, real job. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
PAGE SPENCER: But, yeah, people have always used, you know, this country up here to land,
and I don't know of any exact examples, but I'm sure, you know, it would be easy to bring a ski plane or even a wheel plane
and access hunting up here, you know, particularly goats and sheep over on the other side.
So this -- this Upper Harding Icefield is pretty smooth, you know, it's -- it's nice country. So --
KAREN BREWSTER: One thing we haven't asked you about, speaking of up there, is that snow machine operation that they did for tourists in the '70s.
Do you know much about that or were you around?
RACHEL MASON: Did you hear about it at the time, or --
PAGE SPENCER: I heard about it. All I heard is that it snowed again, and pretty much buried the whole --
you know, they had left machines up there over the winter thinking to just come the following summer,
they were taking people up there I think in planes to have a snow machine, you know,
and that over the winter the snow machines got so buried that they couldn't find them.
And Bud has probably told you he did some excavations, it's 20 feet of snow in the winter, something like that. It's massive.
And I suspect they ran around there with -- with metal detectors.
But it was pre-GPS, you know, so I think they're still there.
And I would bet they'll come out -- come out some day.
One thing that was kind of interesting is that we found a piece of hemlock branch had come out the bottom of Exit Glacier.
RACHEL MASON: Oh, could you mark it just there.
PAGE SPENCER: Okay. Hemlock branch. And somebody brought it to me wanting to know if we could date it.
And so I was able to get a Carbon 14 date on that thing, and it was, I think, 350 years old.
RACHEL MASON: Wow.
PAGE SPENCER: So, you know, that leads me to believe that it got avalanched off from higher up and --
RACHEL MASON: Someplace that had hemlock.
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah. And there are these slopes up there above that have hemlock, and so I think it probably got avalanched on to -- incorporated into the glacier and then carried forward.
And so that tells me, you know, that this is a pretty slow moving tongue of ice.
You know, to take 300 years to move a mile or two is pretty slow. RACHEL MASON: Yeah.
PAGE SPENCER: So hemlock branch.
RACHEL MASON: That's interesting. And put 350 years old. PAGE SPENCER: Yeah. Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: That's cool. And you said you found a goat carcass? PAGE SPENCER: Carcass.
KAREN BREWSTER: In a similar place?
PAGE SPENCER: Well, it was down on the valley floor. It was, I think, probably over here.
And so what happened is these goats, they're all sitting up there, and you could see them out here in the outer things, and so they, right at timberline in the wintertime,
they kind of tuck in the trees there for a little bit of shelter, and they can get out and get to the windblown ridges and get a little something to eat,
but they have -- they all bed up right there in those upper hemlocks. And --
RACHEL MASON: Did anybody try to date the goat?
PAGE SPENCER: No, we didn't. You know, clearly it was that spring.
KAREN BREWSTER: It was fresh enough.
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah.
RACHEL MASON: You figured it was -- it was a modern --
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah, it was. RACHEL MASON: -- goat.
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah, it had meat on it. And there were wolverine tracks all around it and stuff like that, so -- RACHEL MASON: Okay.
PAGE SPENCER: So I think that was, you know, a fairly recent event.
And I don't know whether the park is doing any kind of census counts on goats down there in that valley these days or not.
It would probably be interesting to see what the population is doing in there.
They probably will be impacted as the climate change, you know, kind of happens.
The whole sheep and goat thing on the Kenai is -- I think it's not unlike the sheep in Lake Clark, is that the territories are moving, the country they inhabit is moving.
And so they kind of stop. Goats stop at about Iceberg Lake, Twin Lakes, over there off the Skilak Glacier.
RACHEL MASON: Okay.
PAGE SPENCER: And so it's goats south of there and sheep north.
And I think sheep may -- as it warms up and, you know, there's better meadows and whatnot, the sheep may start moving south, is my thinking.
RACHEL MASON: Do they ever mix together in the same area?
PAGE SPENCER: They fuse a little bit right there on Twin Lakes and Iceberg. I've seen both.
And there's goats for sure over in this -- I don't know what these lakes are called, but this is a little high patch of lakes here.
RACHEL MASON: Could you mark there as a goat area?
PAGE SPENCER: Yeah. There's goats in here for sure.
In this basin. But I don't even know whether the refuge has done kind of a specific habitat evaluation of goats.
But we've got pretty much goats in the park, and I've never seen sheep down here around Exit. So I think it's a goat situation.
RACHEL MASON: Well, is there any area that we have missed in asking you about Exit Glacier --
KAREN BREWSTER: Or that valley. RACHEL MASON: -- as part of your experience in that valley or --
PAGE SPENCER: Not really, except for the places I always wanted to go.
RACHEL MASON: Which are those?
PAGE SPENCER: Oh, the Paradise Valley just looks wonderful. And then, you know, to come up --
I've flown through this valley, that's Paradise Creek, and then comes over to Bear Glacier, and this is just wonderful, high alpine country,
you know, recently glaciated, little ponds in it, and right at, you know, timberline down in here, and then get up above timberline.
So this, you know, I -- I certainly don't advocate developing trail systems in the park, but if there was a way to access into this valley from Exit, you know, that might be a fun -- a fun route.
And, of course, Bear's is melting back now so that, you know, it's not even ice here now, it's --
there's a big chunk of recently de-glaciated country over in here, inside the glacier, basically, so it's pretty -- pretty -- pretty cool country.
RACHEL MASON: Well, now would be the time for you to let loose with your thoughts about what -- what you think should be the management practices for the access to the Exit Glacier.
PAGE SPENCER: Well, I -- I personally think it is a wonderful year-round opportunity.
You know, it is -- especially with Portage Glacier going back, it is the only place where we can easily access a glacier.
And I know we had that block of ice fall on that woman and so everybody's still kind of nervous about that, skittish.
But the opportunity to get up close and personal to a glacier, and it seems to be fairly stable compared to many of the other glaciers, that -- you know, it's nice to have that opportunity for people.
And I'm speaking as a parkee for that.
The Exit Glacier trail is another wonderful opportunity, and it is a real challenge to keep that from being an erosion problem.
It might need some major -- I mean, we might need to think bigger about how and where we build a trail up to the high country around Exit.
It would be -- it would be nice to be able to cross Exit Creek and get over into this country, as I was saying, Paradise Creek, and it may even be a business --
the Resurrection River is so flashy, it's going to be impossible almost to put a bridge on that.
This -- this country is real hard to bridge, at least permanently.
I would personally love to see the Exit Glacier Valley closed to snow machines, just because the noise, the tracks, excuse me, but the beer cans, you know, there's just --
there are lots and lots and lots of places for snow machiners to access the high country.
Out of -- easily out of Seward, Anchorage, Kenai, all this country, the Forest Service has -- has more than accommodated the motorized community,
and it would be a good thing to have places that were non-motorized and easily accessible.
So that would be my personal advocacy.
RACHEL MASON: Okay.
PAGE SPENCER: Otherwise, you know, it's just -- it's a really fascinating piece of science happening, geomorphology happening right here.
I am really pleased that we've got the weather station up there. I access that a lot, just for an understanding of the climate of the whole Southcentral area.
Even, you know, when I was in Lake Clark, I would look at these weather stations all out here, and see what -- how does our park compare to Exit and to Kenai Fjords.
The ice field studies are really interesting that have been going on up there. I'm interested in how the nunataks are probably becoming de-glaciated, and you could see the old lines of morainal material around them.
And so that's probably an opportunity for successional studies to kind of see how the ice comes and goes on those nunataks.
I think we should have joint work with the Fish and Wildlife Service because it's all -- it's all the same ice,
and it -- you know, what's happening on Exit is -- is influenced by what's happening, and they have the bulk of this -- of the accumulation zone.
And so, you know, our little glaciers that are coming off are just kind of the little squirts off of this ice field.
But there's some -- there's some amazing things happening in this ice field, and I don't think we're paying much attention to how to study that.
Bear Glacier itself is another really interesting part of that and how it's pulling back.
This Skilak Glacier, and again, I found pictures where the Skilak Glacier was not solid ice but broken ice clear to the moraine in '86, so it's -- it's drawing back pretty fast.
All these glaciers have come to their little steep spot, so Exit's one of them, and Skilak Glacier is one of them, and I haven't looked at Lowell.
And Bear Glacier is about to be one of them.
And we'll see how they stabilize, you know, as the -- as the climate change.
I -- I do not expect Exit to turn into a hanging glacier soon, although in time it probably will.
It will just be a hanging glacier further up. And so we will need probably to continue to expand some kind of trail access system if people are going to continue to, you know, have easy access to Exit there.
KAREN BREWSTER: I have one more question about the road, that -- most of the time in your experience the road was already in and the bridge was already across the river?
PAGE SPENCER: Most of the time, yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: Do you remember going out there before there was the road?
PAGE SPENCER: Uh hum.
KAREN BREWSTER: And what differences do you see?
PAGE SPENCER: Well, it was quieter. We went up the river.
You know, there were a lot more animal tracks in those days. We would frequently see wolverine tracks,
and then the moose, of course, are down in the river system.
Lots of hares and even, you know, the mink going in and out of the river and whatnot.
There just was more wildlife when -- and that's pretty much the story of all these -- all these places.
KAREN BREWSTER: So do you have thoughts about that road and bridge being put in?
PAGE SPENCER: You know, that road and that bridge are just kind of part of this entire, what I'm going to call assault in the last 50 years on Alaska.
I -- at one point, I did a data collection basically trying to document the number of humans in what we now call Alaska since pre-contact.
And the line, you know, as you go along, there was a -- you know, kind of a high place for the aboriginal people,
and so if you say this was pre-Russian, there would be, you know, sort of a high line, probably estimate somewhere between 3 and 600,000 people, I would say, across the whole thing.
It fell drastically. You know, during the Russian occupation, it was very low.
Then after the Americans came it got a little lower.
And then we started -- then there was gold rushes and it would level out, then there was World War II and it climbed pretty big, then it was after the war and it was homesteading, and then there was the oil.
And then there's kind of what I now call the tourism phase, and it is just, you know, skyrocketing.
And -- and so it's this last 50 years here that we have never seen these numbers of people, and this number of people have brought with them,
and I do it, too, you know, I need to be warm and dry and move around and be well fed.
And I'm eating oranges, and they're all not coming through Seward anymore.
And so as part of -- it's a global situation, but I really see it happening here in Alaska. And on the Kenai, it's in spades; you know, it really is in spades.
So it personally is hard to see, but I'm part of it.
So that's about all I could say for that. And the road is part of that. It's a tiny little expression of that trend.
KAREN BREWSTER: But as you said before, it's kind of part and parcel to Seward as a tourist destination. PAGE SPENCER: Yeah.
KAREN BREWSTER: That road and bringing people to the glacier is all part of that.
PAGE SPENCER: Yes. It is all part of it. Yeah.
And that's why I go out there, too, now, and I don't have to wade Resurrection River, which is really cold.
KAREN BREWSTER: So you have waded it?
PAGE SPENCER: Oh, yeah. I have waded it in the wintertime.
KAREN BREWSTER: Ooh.
PAGE SPENCER: It's really cold. Yeah.
RACHEL MASON: On that note, I think we'll end, unless there's anything else you'd like t to add.
PAGE SPENCER: No. If you want to look at the pictures.
RACHEL MASON: Yeah, I'd like to.