Matanuska Glacier, Dall Sheep and Moose Heads…

“Is that a moose head on that truck?”

In fact it was two moose heads, a sight that may be common in Alaska but for me, it was something out of the ordinary. Where were the bodies?

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Turns out the heads are taken to Fish and Game who then determine how old the animal was and count them off. Only a designated number of animals at certain ages can be killed and Fish and Game enforce this very strictly.
Continuing on with my journey I reached the turn off for the glacier after 101 miles. Matanuska Glacier is the largest glacier accessible by car in Alaska, but the one access point is on privately owned land and you pay $20, per person, for the privilege of driving down a 2 mile dirt road with pot holes so big I thought I was going to fall down one and never see my family again. The bumpy ride is worth it though when you arrive in the crudely gravelled car park to this sight.

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At around 26 miles long and 4 miles wide, this is a valley glacier and hasn’t seen much change in mass in decades due to its position in a ‘weather hole’. Cold air from the glacier forces warm air upwards to the surrounding mountains, which means this area usually has clearer, sunnier skies, which unfortunately wasn’t applicable on this day. Though it wasn’t raining, I have to stick to my record of no rain on adventure days! Because of the location on private land, and the waiver I signed promising not to sue the land owner if I injured myself/ died, I was able to walk right on to the ice after following a trail of cones for a quarter of a mile. I made sure to stick to the edges and away from overhangs, this is an unpredictable natural formation after all and I didn’t want today to be the day I got crushed by a giant piece of falling ice.

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Follow the gross, black, road. Most of this gravel and shards of rock is actually covering up bits of the glacier which become visible at certain parts along the walk.

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And then you strike gold, incredibly clear and made from water gold!

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When I got up close I found that the ice wasn’t smooth in all places, but rough and made up of irregular shaped crystals of ice.

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The glacier seen stretching far back into the valley, from the highway. That was number two of the unusual things, being able to drive up to a glacier, and the last unusual thing, seeing Dall sheep in action!

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Look very close at the picture and you may be able to spot two tiny white dots near the top of the mountain slightly to the left. Zooming in you can see it is two sheep.

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If you’re an Alaskan then you’ve probably been doing and seeing these things since birth but for me, this was an unusual and spectacular day in a unique state.

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One Comment

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  1. Janette Graham-Walker September 22, 2013 — 23:04

    I found ze sheeps! Aren’t they just amazing. I salute the land management teams in Alaska for their work, well done to all of you and a huge thank You to one and all.

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