A marmot made its way across a hill near us (it was my first time seeing a marmot!). Exit glacier is one of the most visited places in Kenai Fjords National Park thanks to its accessibility. With such incredible views, the trail can get moderately busy and as I took my break / photo stop along the cliffs, I ran into several groups who had decided to make that point their stopping spot. Well, it’s a ginormous stretch of land atop the mountains in Kenai Fjords National Park that is covered in… you guessed it… ice! Covering approximately 700 square miles, and at a maximum depth of roughly 4000ft, the Harding Icefield is the largest ice field entirely within the United States. You should set up your tent at least 1/8 miles from the trail. However, the challenging, strenuous climb makes the hike seem longer. When we went, a storm was rolling in, which meant we had to keep an eye out for impending rain and pack plenty of waterproof gear. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the Harding Icefield is 700 square miles of ice! Sometimes, even in early July, the areas close to the top of the trail are snow-capped. , What’s one thing you’re grateful for? Helicopter rides, on the other hand, offer a unique vantage point and are an awesome choice if you have limited time. The strenuous 4-mile Harding Icefield Trail has stunning views of Exit Glacier and the mile Harding Icefield. However, the challenging, strenuous climb makes the hike seem longer. Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to … Located in the Kenai Fjords National Park, the Harding Icefield Trail is 8.8 miles long and is quite strenuous, with an elevation gain of 3,953 feet. There are three main ways to experience the Kenai Fjords National Park: by foot, boat, or a helicopter ride. It has all of the logistics on how exactly to create your own website! Going the distance to the end of the established trail is incredible but really there are a thousand views along the way to take in. The construction of the Spruce Creek trail that year, however, made it possible to view the upper portions of the icecap, and President Harding's promise to visit the territory was sufficient to bestow his name on the feature. You will begin the hike to Harding Icefield in the Exit Glacier area. Also, remember to bring a bag to pack your trash into because the trail doesn’t have any trash cans. Up to this point, however, people had walked only on the icefiel… Check out this post on 33 crucial things to know before visiting Alaska for some more useful information! Seward residents generally ignored the huge icefield west of town before 1922. The trail is about 8 miles round trip – that isn’t too bad, but like most trails in the Seward area, you do a lot of climbing – it has a 3,000 vertical foot rise in total. The first quarter-mile (0.4 km) is through dense cottonwood and alder passing a few small cascades. Holgate Glacier and Aialik Glacier are the most popular ones to see by boat. Trail Guide: Hiking to Alaska’s Exit Glacier & Harding Icefield (8.2 miles / 3500′ / 6+ hours) Trail Guides October 19, 2017 Long before I reached the last marker post, the Harding Icefield Trail at Exit Glacier had earned a place as one of my top 5-day hikes ever. The day we started there were bear sightings along the trail, so make sure to buy bear spray ahead of time. Dense clouds hung low and fingers of fog crept up the valleys. 33 Crucial Things to Know Before Visiting Alaska, Guide to Seward: The 18 Best Things to Do in Seward, 12 Things Alaska is Famous For (Don’t Miss These on Your Alaska Trip! Check out this post on 33 crucial things to know before visiting Alaska for some more useful information!). COPYRIGHT © 2020 | PRIVACY POLICY | Website designed by Alley Digital | Exclusive Member of Mediavine Travel. The view you see in the photo above is not even from the top of the hike- only from halfway! Harding Icefield Trail Map PDF Access to the Harding Icefield is exceptional in comparison to other large icefields. For those up for the challenge, the reward is well worth it. Beyond the incredible glacier views, the hills you will be hiking are rather amazing to look at too and on a clear day, you’ll also be able to see plenty of other glaciers on neighboring mountains. If you’re looking for more weekend getaways from Anchorage, check out this post!). Harding Icefield Trail For physically fit hikers, a strenuous four-mile trail parallels the glacier’s north edge on a 3,000-foot ascent to the ice field, offering spectacular views of the glacier and surrounding mountains along the way. From there, the icefield at the top stretches as far as your eyes can see. And a couple of hikers told us they saw a moose and its calf cross the trail right in front of them! However, the best time to hike the Harding Icefield Trail is during the summer months, primarily between June and October. Here’s a popular boat tour option that does just that! Length 8.2 mi Elevation gain 3,812 ft Route type Out & Back The best map of the trail route that I’ve seen can be found @ NPMaps.com. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. The roads leading to the trail can be impassable by car, so they’re closed once heavy snows come in. If you choose to explore on foot, there are a few different trails with different levels of difficulty. Your email address will not be published. I’d do one day for the Harding Icefield hike, and one day for a boat tour and to explore Seward a bit. We did the Harding Icefield Hike at the end of August and were constantly wowed by the beauty and stunning views. This strenuous trail leaves from the same trailhead as the Exit Glacier Trail. Camping on vegetation is destructive which can be pretty devastating. The eight mile (round-trip) trail begins by following Exit Glacier, but then climbs steeply and eventually ends overlooking the massive Harding Icefield, the largest icefield entirely within the US, which feeds Exit Glacier and about 40 other glaciers. It may not be a technical climb (in summer season that is) but getting to the ice field is a serious undertaking just the same and the almost 4,000’ effective climb is rated as strenuous. Covering approximately 700 square miles, and at a maximum depth of roughly 4000ft, the Harding Icefield is the largest ice field entirely within the United States. On the water, you can see the glaciers calving (when chunks of ice break off), which is a crazy expereince! Most parts of Kenai Fjords National Park can only be accessed by water. While it’s not a large structure, it does offer an interesting perspective in the otherwise in-human environment around. Between the mid-1920s and the early 1930s, the increasing popularity of aviation had given a lucky few the opportunity to soar over the icefield. Seward is packed with all types of accommodations- we stayed at Resurrection Lodge on the Bay and loved it! To squeeze the most out of the Harding Icefield you can enjoy the hike by the day then camp overnight. The trail comes to an end at a rugged rocky overlook with a sweeping view of the stunning icefield. As you climb the hill to reach it, your feet will be happy to know that the best icefield views are just a few minutes above. Hikers can expect sweeping views of the Exit Glacier … The 8.2-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike. The town is right outside the park, so it’s a short drive away. 3. The Harding Icefield Trail should definitely be on your Alaska Itinerary! The network of both walking and hiking trails leads to different viewpoints of Exit Glacier. While the trail is well maintained with plenty of switchbacks along the path to limit the steep segments, you need to be reasonably fit to make it up to the top. You’ll get to get up close with the glacier and see the dramatic landscape left behind by the retreating glacier while also enjoying some of the most astounding natural scenery that the area has to offer. Skirting the Harding Ice Field from the highway junction to Homer - July 2004. Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breath-taking view of the Icefield. ), What to Wear in Alaska: An All-Season Packing Guide. So if completing the entire trail seems outside of your wheelhouse, there are great viewpoints just a couple of miles into the hike. With the shuttle, you’ll have to be careful not to miss the return time, and there is barely any cell service around the Exit Glacier area. Exit Glacier from just outside the park. The forest slowly opens up as the trail steepens and you start some long switchbacks. Subscribe to my monthly newsletter for all of my travel updates and blogging/influencer tips! The hole should also be 100 feet from the trail. Over 40 glaciers flow from the Harding Icefield, but Exit Glacier is the only one you can hike beside. If you're ready to share your ideas, stories, and adventures with others, check out my post on how to start a blog. These conditions can make hiking impossible (and in the worst case scenario can even trigger avalanches!). The information tells you this is out and back for 8.2 miles. Hi, I’m Jasmine! If you’re worried about taking this hike on yourself, there are guided treks available for a rather reasonable price from several local operators just outside the park. chachaSH/Tripadvisor The trailhead is located near the nature center. Dense clouds hung low, and fingers of fog crept up the valleys. After leaving the Harding Icefield, we continued south on smaller glaciers. There’s a reason why it’s considered the best hike in the Kenai Peninsula! Learn how your comment data is processed. The alpine flora can take a while to grow, especially because this trail is highly trafficked. Comment below! It’s one of about 40 glaciers that descend out of the massive Harding Icefield. Ideally, start before 10am. So what is this icefield you’ll be hiking to, anyway? You can also sign up for hikes out on the glacier with guides providing technical gear and support of course. Otherwise, four days would be perfect. (On a larger scale, it lies in the Kenai Peninsula about 125 miles south of Anchorage. While there is plenty more to see going on ahead, this is not a trail where you must top out to get a view. Ho, Here’s a postcard from Oahu for anyone who needs, Turns out Dallas is pretty in the fall too! The picnic area is also a great resting place after a long day on the trails. When you’re in glacial country, nothing is ever simple and the park service suggests 6-8 hours for this adventure though you can go a shorter way up the trail for a killer view of Exit Glacier too! We really want to hike to the top of the Harding Icefield. Take the left fork and you’ll reach a clearing that is perfect for a picnic or simply to take in the views! Le sentier offre plusieurs activités et sa meilleure utilisation est de mai à octobre. Just as the view changes, so does the trail, moving from lush hills into a rockier terrain. There is a trail shelter at the top, but it’s used for emergencies only. If possible, you should plan to stay in or around Seward. You’ll get way more views there, and the hike becomes more scenic than the first stretch you’ve already done. This trail is a tough day hike, gaining 3,000 feet of … But honestly, I don’t think I would’ve had the strength to go all the way to the top! Starting on the valley floor, the trail winds through cottonwood and alder forests, passes though heather filled meadows and ultimately climbs well above tree line to a breath-taking view of the Icefield. How to hike harding icefield exit glacier trail. (You can see the view from the main area of the lodge in the photo above.). Here’s a popular boat tour option that does just that! That way, you’ll have enough time to enjoy the views along the path at a leisurely pace and make it back down just before dusk. Barring bad weather, it’s worth it to keep going to the Top of the Cliff at the very least! Hello friends! I highly recommend a helicopter tour like this one while you’re in Alaska. And if you’re heading to Alaska, here are a few posts you might find helpful: Your email address will not be published. The National Park Service’s Official Trail Page, Facilities: Restrooms, water, ranger station at the TH, Cost: $20 to enter the park or an NPS annual pass. The still air was heavy with moisture as I hiked up the Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park outside Seward, Alaska. And make sure the hole is at least 100 feet from any water sources or streams. The tent should either be on the snow or bare ground (to preserve the area’s fragile vegetation). While much of the first half is hiking a rocky trail through the treeline, there are plenty of views along the way and it’s certainly not a boring trail at any point. HGL006. The Trail. Necessary warning: While Exit Glacier & the Harding Icefield Trail may just be a “day hike,” it’s nothing to take lightly. It doesn’t even encompass how giant the ice field is! I'm in moderately good shape so I think I should be able to handle the hike. Le sentier longe une cascade et sa difficulté est évaluée comme difficile. This enormous wall of ice descends the mountain from the Harding Icefield and goes down all the way to Resurrection River. IF YOU GO Length: 1.4 miles to Marmot Meadows, another 2.7 miles to the Harding Icefield; 8.2 miles total round trip Follow trail along Exit Glacier ridge; best photos in summer twilight . This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Feel free to edit / quote / embed with credit and for editorial or commercial use, contact me. Another benefit of visiting in summer is the mild, temperate weather. For this reason, it’s best to treat the hike as a full-day excursion and set out in the early morning! You might come across humpback whales, Steller sea lions, puffins, harbor seals, and different species of seabirds. The 8.2 mile out-and-back route carries visitors through the upper alpine areas of the park to viewpoints of the vast Harding Icefield. HGL007. With a boat ride, you also enjoy wildlife and marine life spotting opportunities! The weather can be unpredictable and the winds traveling down the mountain can be pretty chilly. You can also charter a boat and take in the views at a leisurely pace. Proceed for another 8.4 miles and the road will lead you straight to the parking lot of the Exit Glacier Nature Center. My recommendation: opt to push through to the Top of the Cliff (2.4 miles). You’ll see a path split off from the main path on your left. A shorter hike up the trail commands impressive panoramas of the valley floor, Exit Glacier, and the Harding Icefield. The first you’ll reach is Marmot Meadows. To completely enjoy the hike and give enough time to take in the views at the top of the trail get an early start. There’s a reason there is a glacier here so be sure to come prepared! Answer 1 of 11: Hi all, I'll be in Seward at the end of June, and I'm interested in hiking the Harding Icefield Trail. Check out the best things to do in Seward here! Harding Ice Field Trail est un sentier allez-retour de 8.2 miles très fréquenté situé près de Seward, Alaska. View over Harding Icefield from end of trail. One of the best ways to quickly experience the Harding Icefield is by hiking the Harding Icefield Trail. Although the distance from the parking lot to the top of the trail is roughly 10 miles round trip, the trail itself is 8.2 miles round trip. The whole trail takes approximately 8 hours: about four hours to hike up and about 3-4 hours to descend. We were blessed — such days are not common in this area. This is remote terrain with regular wildlife encounters (bears most certainly included) across a steep trail possibly with ice, snow, or water crossings. Reaching it takes time, sore legs, and patience, but the view of the icefield is incredibly rewarding! You may also find yourself crossing snow & ice for much of the upper trail so be sure to check with the rangers about the need for microspikes and / or crampons before heading out! It is about 1.4 miles above the treeline, where the lush green forest falls away and you approach an open meadow. I’m a nature-obsessed, beauty-finding, Jesus-loving dreamer with a serious case of wanderlust. The trail itself is only 3.8 miles out, but you'll need to access it via the Exit Glacier Paved Path, which adds to the overall distance. 9) The Harding Icefield Trail Is A More Strenuous Hike Nine miles round trip from the Exit Glacier Nature Center, this strenuous hike is not for the faint of heart. The Harding Icefield is the main reason Kenai Fjords National Park exists. What you see in the photo is Exit Glacier as it stretches down from the Harding Icefield. Following the Glacier Overlook Trail for 0.4 miles (0.64 km), the Harding Icefield Trail branches off to the right (well-marked). Located in the Kenai Fjords National Park, the Harding Icefield Trail is 8.8 miles long and is quite strenuous, with an elevation gain of 3,953 feet. The 7.4-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike. I had heard of the Harding Icefield and even drove by the trailhead on previous trips to the Kenai Peninsula and always wondered what an icefield is like. First, you’ll wind through the forest, then, through a beautiful tundra meadow, and lastly, rocky terrain. We saw a black bear way off in the distance while we were at the Cliffs area (more on The Cliffs in a bit. There is a free ‘tent only’ campground close to the Exit Glacier Nature Center. Instead of lighting up a campfire, you should consider using a stove. So here’s everything you need to know before embarking on the Harding Icefield Hike. There are a few trails that lead from the parking lot to various parts of the lower section of Exit Glacier. If you don’t have a car, you can take advantage of the shuttle services that depart from Seward. Glaciers And Glory: The Harding Icefield Trail. It’s also the perfect place to pull out that sandwich that you’ve been thinking about the entire hike In any event, reaching the trailhead is simple enough not exactly in the middle of town. So what’s the difference between a glacier and an icefield? That means there’s something for everyone, especially the Exit Glacier trail, which is also handicap accessible! It’s not uncommon to spot black bears, brown bears, mountain goats, moose, marmots, birds, or anything else along the way. A hike with glaciers at the end? The trail ends overlooking the massive 700 square mile Harding Icefield, which is a leftover of the last major Ice Age. This is the log of a ten day trip down the Kenai Peninsula. (More on that later.). The other big thing we wanted to do in Kenai Fjords National Park, besides glacier kayaking, was hiking the famous Harding Icefield Trail.. Kenai Fjords National Park hosts some of the best of Alaska’s beauty within its massive rugged and dramatic landscape. We were excited about what our day would bring. The shuttle drops you at the parking lot then picks you up later in the afternoon. The overall profile is around 1,000′ / mile over rough terrain including plenty of large and often slick rocks. We actually didn’t get to go all the way to the icefield due to a storm that rolled in. The Cliff is halfway through the entire trail. There are plenty of paths around to different viewpoints in the rocky hills above the Harding Icefield as well as a few trails down to its edge. Located atop Exit Glacier where it stretches for 700 square miles, the Harding Icefield is worth the climb. You could, if you like “posting” which is hiking in extremely deep snow. As you climb the switchbacks, you’ll be just a short ways from the lower portion of Exit Glacier and a few partial clearings provide great encouragement to endure the constant uphill push along this section – rest assured that those views will only get better too! You’ll get to see Bear Glacier and so much more! You can also camp along the trail under some conditions. Kenai Fjords National Park is technically open throughout the year. Location: 60.181412, -149.663361. Tempting as it is to stop here, it’s well worth moving on just a little further (though also all up hill) to the start of the cliff switchbacks and an incredible view down on Exit Glacier just below you. There are unlimited ways of why hiking here is worth your time, but here are our 5 favorite reasons to hike the Harding Icefield Trail. Just a few hours away from Anchorage on one of the most scenic drives in Alaska, it deserves your visit! And trust me, once you’re done with this hike, your legs will feel too much like jelly to do anything else the rest of the day! In fact, it’s the only land entrance into Kenai Fjords National Park. The terrain remained interesting throughout the route. But this may not be the best option if you want to enjoy the views without feeling rushed. Do you have any questions about this hike? The construction of the Spruce Creek trail that year, however, made it possible to view the upper portions of the icecap, and President Harding's promise to visit the territory was sufficient to bestow his name on the feature. The 7.4-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike. Sewardresidents generally ignored the huge icefield west of town before 1922. About 3.9 miles in, we could finally see what looked like the end of the planet, and in some ways it was. There is no parking fee and camping is also free. Long before I reached the last marker post, the Harding Icefield Trail at Exit Glacier had earned a place as one of my top 5-day hikes ever. The trail ends overlooking the massive 700 square mile Harding Icefield, which is a leftover of the last major Ice Age. At 1.4 miles, the trail really begins to break free of the treeline and opens up into a stunning meadow area with rolling hills ahead and towering cliffs further above. Location: 60.181816, -149.656311. My legs already felt like jelly by the time I got to the Top of the Cliff viewpoint! Also it was my first time seeing a bear in the wild!). Thanks for supporting my blog by purchasing through these links! You experience roughly 1000 feet of elevation gain per mile! HGL008 And trust me, your legs will feel it (unless you’re some sort of Olympic athlete, which I most definitely am not!). This includes packing all litter! We started at the highway junction where the highway to Seward branches off from the one to Homer. Here are a few: Now that we’ve covered all of that, let’s talk about the national park that houses the Harding Icefield! Nonetheless, it’s important to note that the weather in the area is still highly unpredictable and can change at any time of the day. You experience roughly 1000 feet of elevation gain per mile! If you’re interested in a longer day hike to add to the Exit Glacier Trail, consider the Harding Icefield Trail. You’ll cross muddy fields, traverse some narrow and exposed hillsides, and near the end pass over a few washed out points. Do I need those hiking pants to keep the bottom part of pants from getting wet? The views along this stretch of the hike are way better since trees are no longer in your way. Although the distance from the parking lot to the top of the trail is roughly 10 miles round trip, the trail itself is 8.2 miles round trip. The Harding Icefield in Kenai Fjords National Park is truly a wonder to behold! Be sure to dress in layers so that it’s easy to remove or add clothes as the temperature changes. The Harding Icefield trail can really be broken up into two sections: hiking out of the forest to the cliffs for an amazing view of Exit Glacier and then climbing on up to the Harding Icefield above it. You’ll find intertwined trails which means you can do multiple routes without starting over. Turn L onto side trail for Exit Glacier overlook . We arrived at the Harding Icefield Trail just north of Seward, Alaska mid-morning on the 4th of July. And if you love your full time job, stick around for travel tips and inspiration! United States - Hike to Harding Icefield - My husband and I are travelling to Alaska during the last 2 weeks of July. Trail opens to views of Harding Icefield, a near-blinding spread of bowl-shaped glacial cirques covering half the park . For my hike, which started out on a nice day with just light rain, that meant snow by the top as you can see in the photos! You also get a glimpse of the Icefield along with the majestic mountains surrounding the area. Located in the Kenai Fjords National Park, you’ll want to Head to the Exit Glacier Nature Center 20-30 minutes outside of Seward and 2.5 hours from Anchorage. That may not mean much if this is your first time visiting my blog but after climbing glacier filled slopes on Mount Rainier, exploring the floor of the Grand Canyon, and ascending the cables to the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome, I may not have been everywhere, but I’ve seen enough to know an amazing hike when I’m on one. If time is a factor, set aside at least two days to explore the massive Kenai Fjords National Park, Resurrection Bay (pictured above), and Seward. The hikes are also way easier compared to the Harding Icefield Trail. Ascending the rocky (or snowy) slopes, the trail is mostly defined but does occasionally split as the ever-changing terrain has forced people to forge new routes around eroding surfaces You’re not likely to get lost on a clear day but paying attention to the terrain ahead will help you avoid sketchier sections and minimize impact by sticking to the developed paths (always stay off vegetation and avoid short-cutting switchbacks which damages the trail and environment.). 4. Harding Icefield Trail – The Arrival. Your days will be packed to the brim with mesmerizing mountain views, incredible glaciers, varied trails, and lots of wildlife. Overview. Though the elevation profile is not always even, each of these sections is right around 2 miles so it breaks the day up nicely for objectives. This is a very different photo than what I usually, Moana vibes What’s your favorite Disney mov, I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!! The Harding Icefield trailhead is approximately a 20-minute drive (about 3.7 miles) north of Seward in Kenai Fjords National Park. Very excited! Continuing from the lower cliffs, it’s easy to understand why many stop their day here as you look on ahead at the switchbacks that lead up the cliffs above. Following the Glacier Overlook Trail for 0.4 miles (0.64 km), the Harding Icefield Trail branches off to the right (well-marked). This will minimize the impact of the campfires and preserve the pristine environment for future generations. The Harding Icefield Trail starts at the base of Exit Glacier. This trail is free to access from the Exit Glacier Nature Center, and certainly some of the best things in … Bear Glacier is a popular glacier to fly by in Kenai Fjords National Park since it’s the largest glacier off of the Harding Icefield! The nearby town of Seward averages 72 inches of rain per year. Skiing down the Grewingk was Sarah’s favorite part of the trip. They give you amazing views of Exit Glacier and partial views of the icefield. Though the trail is mostly dirt, rock, or potentially snow, you’ll start out on the paved Exit Glacier path just beyond the Nature Center. For physically fit hikers, a strenuous four-mile trail parallels the glacier’s north edge on a 3,000-foot ascent to the ice field, offering spectacular views of the glacier and surrounding mountains along the way. Hiking beyond the shelter, the trail (if it’s not all snow) splits in a variety of paths though most lead up to the hill ahead. The views from the top of the trail are unbeatable, but you don’t have to go all the way to experience the magic at the summit. We planned to exit on the Grewingk Glacier, which would provide an easy summer trail to access Kachemak Bay and a boat ride to Homer. The still air was heavy with moisture as I hiked up the Harding Icefield Trail in Kenai Fjords National Park outside Seward, Alaska. Endless ice stretched to the horizon in front of us, vast and wonderful: 700 square miles of blue white punctuated with lonely rock peaks. By this point, you may be in an entirely different climate than the trailhead now almost a mile below. Alternatively, you can opt for an Airbnb as well! Required fields are marked *. FYI, most product links on my site are affiliate links, which means that I may earn a commission from advertising or affiliate programs. As you top out from the cliff overlook (another main great break point if you want to push a little further), the trail cuts further into the hill and away from the glacier. By this point, you’ll have a continuous view of the glacier from just about any high point and it’s fascinating to look out as the ice transforms from well crevassed towards the more stable field above. An icefield is actually a large area of interconnected glaciers. Copyright 2020 Traveler Ted. The 8.2-mile round trip Harding Icefield Trail is a spectacular day hike leaving from the Exit Glacier Area. What's yo, Weekend vibes ✌️ Anyone else wish they were in. No wonder boat tours are a common way to explore the Park- especially with visitors who are eager to come up close with glaciers. Review trail conditions and the weather before starting your hike. The icefield looks like it goes as far as the eye can see (it’s over 700 square miles), and is almost like looking at the horizon over the ocean. I have spent some wonderful nights on the edge of Harding Icefield with my tent watching some beautiful sunsets and sunrises. From here, you’ll follow the Exit Glacier Paved Path for roughly 0.3 miles. This doesn’t raise prices- it sometimes may actually lower them!
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