Monday, July 19, 2010

Northeast to Matanuska Glacier – Alaska Adventure 2010

Whoops! This post is out of order.  I missed it when I was catching up ---  Here’s July 9:  It was late on Friday afternoon.  The Jeep repairs were completed.  And we thought it best to move out of the Anchorage area before the mass exodus of citizenry heading for the fishing holes and campgrounds for the weekend.  A big thanks goes out to our friend Mat Rude, an Anchorage resident, for the referral to a repair shop for the Jeep.

By about 3:00 p.m. we chose a tentative destination about 80 miles east on the Glenn Highway and Ferd cruising east through the Mat-Su Valley. Around the community of Palmer we noticed our first views of farms. These agricultural fields are a part of the colony established in 1935 as a federal relief program.  Descendants of the 203 original colonizing families that migrated mostly from Minnesota and Wisconsin still produce an abundance of vegetables for local sale.  We were enjoying the variations of terrain when I noticed a caution note in the Milepost:  “Narrow, winding road eastbound…no passing lanes…7 % grades, 35-mph curves, soft dirt shoulder, steep dropoffs…..”  No kidding!  Ferd and Ole Yeller at our overnight spot on the Glenn Highway, mile 101, Matanuska Glacier.Sometimes there were no guard rails.  The  Matanuska River below was a nice view, but it wouldn’t be much fun descending via the steep dropoff.  So, we enjoyed the scenery a little more slowly, Jerry doing a top-notch driving job, of course.  :D

Since we had a late start we were considering making it an 80-mile day anyway, perhaps stopping at the Matanuska Glacier area for the night. That roadway helped us decide.  When we arrived at the glacier,  the generous parking area and super views cinched it. It was a great place to soak up another glorious nature show.  As the evening passed, people from around the world stopped by to enjoy the show with us.  We were relaxed and ready to be on our way early toward Valdez the next morning.

Here are some scenes from the day’s drive:

Hatcher Pass is near Palmer, Alaska.  It is named for the gold miner Robert Hatcher who had success during the Gold Rush in these mountains. Point at the photo below with your cursor for another aspect of this scene. 

Hatcher Pass, near Palmer, Alaska, on the Glenn Highway.  The murky, grayish  river water is the result of moraine runoff from glaciers.  The glacier ice collects sediments as it melts and flows downward. It then deposits it in the rivers.

Matanuska Glacier on the Glenn Highway, 101 miles east of Anchorage.  The glacier’s average width is two miles and it is over 18,000 years old.  At the terminus the melt water drains into a stream that flows into the river in the photo above.   This was our overnight spot, but it wasn’t that cold! We were about a mile away.

Matanuska Glacier, from the viewing area on the Glenn Highway

A closer view of the Matanuska Glacier.

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