Alaska: Wrangell-St. Elias National Park- Bremner Glacier Overlook to Bremner Glacier
Total Mileage- 6.8 miles
Total Elevation Gain- 1714 feet
Total Elevation Loss- 1868 feet
Day 3 in Wrangell-St. Elias in Alaska took us from the Bremner Glacier overlook down to crossing the Bremner Glacier. The first two miles of this day had the potential of taking up most of our day. I say that because to get down to the glacier we would have to navigate through dense alder. And when I say dense, I mean dense. There were really only two considerations at this point. It was to either take the low route, which would invariably mean that we would be bushwhacking for the next five plus hours. Or, take the high route above the alder and hope for an animal trail that would cut through the alder. After much discussion and blueberry picking, we decided to take the high route and pray for an animal trail. Thanks to Josh Brown on this one, as he scouted out a bear trail that, within one hour, led us all the way down to a one-hundred foot overlook of the glacier where we took a long lunch break. Finding the bear trail was a thing of beauty and a huge time saver.
The easiest route down to the glacier after our lunch break was a rock slide. We followed it down and came face to face with Bremner Glacier, which we had to find a spot low enough to step up onto it. Our trek across Bremner was nothing short of stunning. We had previously watch a pair of wolves run across the glacier during our lunch break, but now we were traversing the glacier ourselves and experiencing its vastness. Alaska always reminds you how infinitesimally microscopic you are when you are swallowed whole by its size. What looked like a quick cross from a higher vantage point, became a few hour endeavor. Our initial plan was to cross the glacier and then take a high route over the adjacent mountain to reach our camp for the day. However, we met a guided group in which the leader encouraged us to stay on the glacier the entire way to our camp. He said it was much more visually stunning. So, rather than beat the bush, we trekked across the glacier…and we were better for it.
For the most part, this was an easy route. The crevasses were relatively narrow on our path. However, had we taken a more westerly route, rather than a southeasterly route, we would have entered areas that would require technical skill and equipment that we did not have. We simply wanted to cross the glacier for the views and to reach our end destination for the day. As we stepped off of the glacier in that southeastern corner that hugged the edge of a mountain, we could see the height of Bremner and how imposing its accumulation was.
The last portion of this trek led us up and away from the glacier on top of a rocky shelf. The campsite we chose had a brilliant view of the towering edges of the glacier. Our next day would take us through a staggering valley and closer to our end point at Iceberg Lake.