Hiking the Matanuska Glacier

Another item on our to-do list was hiking the Matanuska Glacier North of Anchorage. The scenic drive is two hours northeast of Anchorage on the Glenn Highway. The website http://www.matanuska-glacier.com/ describes, “The Matanuska Glacier is the largest glacier in Alaska that can be reached by vehicle.  It is approximately 26 miles long and 4 miles wide at its terminus.” On the way, we pulled over to an overlook of the Matanuska River, which was very low in August.

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At another overlook, we admired the river below.

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Matanuska Glacier Park is located at milepost marker 102.  This privately owned park is the glacier’s only access point.  An entrance fee is collected at the office which then allows travelers to drive up to and park next to the glacier. We also hired a guide who provided us helmets, crampons, and trekking poles. Our guide was a student from Spain whose name was Jasmina. At a park table and bench we put on the crampons to get ready for the adventure. We thought it would be cold walking on the glacier, but our guide advised us to dress light. She only had a T-shirt on!

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At this point there was ice underfoot but it was dirty from all the foot traffic. We walked further following our guide toward the towering glacier in the distance.

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Along the way we saw cravasses.

P1100579  I reached into a pool a water and pulled out this beautiful ice crystal.

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The glistening ice formations are beautiful with jagged ridges and points with breathtaking blue hues.

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We were glad we had a guide who carefully took us on a route along ridges and up steep inclines. She explained that each guide scout the route every morning because the glacier changes quite a bit from day to day. One day there may be a small hole that can be stepped across and the next day it may be too wide to cross.

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At this spot we filled our water bottles with refreshing icy cold glacial melt water.

P1100708 The melting ice sometimes formed strange and fascinating ice sculptures that shone in the sun. P1100716

The glacier is vast. Just by seeing the pictures of the glacier it’s hard to understand the scale unless there are people in the picture.

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These people are actually climbing the ice formations with ice picks and ropes.

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The tour ended up being three hours of pretty strenuous walking and climbing. Some spots required good balance and sturdy footing. However, I would definitely recommend this guided tour of the Matanuska Glacier!

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Copyright 2014 Gwin’s Resorts LLC. All rights reserved.

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