Porcupyn's Blog

July 8, 2017

Alaska Trip – Day 5

Filed under: Family,Travel — Porcupyn @ 10:18 pm

My original plan for the day was for us to get ready early in the morning, then go up to Hatcher Pass and check out the scenery there, then drive over to Matanuska Glacier and decide whether it was worthwhile to walk over to the glacier. Then, by about noon, drive over to our cabins near Denali, reaching there at about 4-5 pm, we could then decide who would be interested to join me to a drive up to Yukon River and back, leaving the rest in the cabin. Folks had advised that it would be a very long day, but I had thought that I could do it and get back to Denali by, say, 1 am – which wouldn’t be too bad to do in the middle of summer. Well, that was the plan, anyway!

 A hearty Wimbledon breakfast ... in Alaska

A hearty Wimbledon breakfast … in Alaska


We finally woke up at about eight am and had a very good breakfast that our host had prepared for us. In honor of Wimbledon, that they never watch anyway (I would bet on this, based on the fact that the TV was not turned on anytime while we were there), we had waffles with strawberries and whipped cream. All of us asked for seconds 🙂

It is now nine am, and we are still twiddling our thumbs. So, I decided to bite the bullet and decided to drive up to Hatcher Pass. Only Baab was willing to come with me. It had been drizzling all night long, and host also said that there might not be much to see near the Pass, conditions being what they were. We soldiered on, regardless. It was nice to see the little Su river by the roadside and high school kids practicing for cross-country skiing. They were maintaining really good time. The scenery was nice as well with greenery all around and low clouds as well. However, by the time the road started to climb, we were in near white out conditions. There were clouds all around us. Besides, at this point, the car informed me that we were low on fuel too. So, we decided to turn around and back to the Airbnb. Hopefully, the rest of the family was ready by now!

Not really! We had asked our hosts if we could do some laundry (it was a good thing we did!) and so, that had taken some time out of the morning, as the laundry equipment was in a bathroom that was being used by other guests. In any event, by the time everyone was ready to a steady drizzle, it was nearly noon. But I still wanted to visit the Matanuska Glacier and no one had any objections to that, as the Yukon plan was also mine alone (i.e., it would not impact their rest of the day)!

The Matanuska River flows by the road (Glenn Highway, which connects Parks Highway to Valdez)

The Matanuska River flows by the road (Glenn Highway, which connects Parks Highway to Valdez)

... but the road quickly gains elevation ...

… but the road quickly gains elevation …

... which gives us good views of the river

… which gives us good views of the river

We went past the official viewpoint, trying to find the trailhead, then stopped at a store that was selling Alaska souvenirs for tourists. The store manager informed us that the trailhead was just around the corner, but the fee was $30 per person. Considering that we were definitely not prepared for bears, and the light conditions and the weather were not really that good anyway, we decided to turn around and head to the glacier viewing location.

One of the explanatory boards near the Matanuska Glacier viewpoint

One of the explanatory boards near the Matanuska Glacier viewpoint

Matanuska Glacier view

Matanuska Glacier view


It was raining quite heavily by now, when we got to the Matanuska Glacier viewpoint. But we managed to hang around long enough for some photos. Here is one that shows the mighty glacier. It was initially tough for us to pronounce the name of the glacier until Katya pointed out that the name almost rhymes with that of her friend (also, an Indian movie star) Anushka. After that, it was pretty easy to say Matanuska 🙂

By now it was past one pm, and we headed right back towards Palmer (and then Denali). Enroute, however, a restroom break turned into a grocery shopping excursion, and shopped an hour more off our rest of the day.

Driving through a steady drizzle even after we crossed Talkeetna, we abandoned any hope of being able to see Denali from either of the viewpoints by the highway.

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