Next time you’re driving over Thompson Pass on your way to Valdez, Alaska, in the summer or fall, check out the Ridge Trail hike at the Worthington Glacier.
My new friend recently told me about the vast quantities of wild blueberries she harvests on this hike. She makes homemade fruit roll-ups with them, and we made a deal to barter my homemade blueberry pancakes for her roll-ups.
The trail starts at the parking area at about 2,400′ elevation. It runs parallel and above the Worthington Glacier the whole way. Much of the trail is on a ridgeline that slopes to either side. Be prepared for big exposure in places, since the trail gets right next to big cliffs that drop to the glacier, and watch for deep cracks in the Earth that occasionally cross the trail – the result of massive glacial forces that still rip the Earth apart in slow motion.
The upper section of the trail where most tourists never reach features some light Class 2 scrambling. Be on the watch for falling boulders and rocks. Things are always shifting in glacial zones. You constantly hear the sounds of rock, water, and ice moving. I love it, but you have to be alert at all times in these zones.
It’s not Disneyland. I watched a boulder roll 50 yards away from me and tumble about 1,000 vertical feet – bad news if you get hit by one of those. After about 2,000 vertical feet of ascent the trail hits snow and ice and glacier equipment becomes necessary.
What’s really cool about this hike is the chance to look down at a glacier and observe all its cool features. It’s like frozen whitewater hundreds of feet deep in ultra slow motion. Alaska continues to amaze. See below for more photos.