Thursday, September 15, 2011

Matanuska Glacier Hike

Matanuska Glacier
Where:  Mile 102, Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway. It is about 2 hours drive Northeast of Anchorage.
Guided Hike With: Matanuska Glacier Adventures
Glacial lake Inside Matanuska Glacier
(can you see the climbers above the glacier for comparison how huge this glacier is?- you can click the picture to enlarge)

The Matanuska Glacier is the largest valley glacier accessible by car in Alaska.  Since we were in Denali National Park the day before we explored Matanuska glacier, we made Wasilla as our place to sleep in from Denali. 
Matanuska Glacier ( you can click on the photo to enlarge )

Glacier hiking was one in my "must do" lists when I was planning for our trip. Before the trip, I searched for the cheapest guided glacier hike near Anchorage. I found a lot of guided glacier hikes online, but either they were so expensive or their pictures did not catch my fantasy! Thankfully, the one that caught my fantasy was also the cheapest I found. The Matanuska Glacier Ice Fall Trek is $90 per person ($70 for the guided trek + $20 for entrance). I was so happy about it knowing that other guided glacier hikes range from $150-$350 per person. I thought $90/person was the cheapest I found online, but we were in for a better surprise!
Fireweeds, Inside Matanuska Glacier Park

Nature intervened beautifully in our plans. We did not meet MICA Guides but we met Matanuska Glacier Adventures. A day before we planned to hike Matansuka Glacier, there was heavy downpour of rain. Because of heavy rain we did not attempt to book guided Matanuska Glacier hike with MICA Guides. The next day, the rain was again pouring! Because of rain, we decided to just drive to Matanuska Glacier without making any reservations.

Our First Close Glimpse of Matanuska Glacier and Mountain

Despite the heavy rain, the drive was very pretty. I will share some pictures of the scenery along Glenn Highway National Scenic Byway in a later post. Nature was so kind to us because when we got to Matanuska Glacier Park, the rain stopped. On top of that, we were greeted by  Matanuska Glacier Adventures at the entrance which offer guided glacier hike and ice fall trek for 3 hours, but only for $50/person and without entrance fee! Now, that saved us $40/person.
Guided Trek with Becky ( the one in front)
( the black muddy like soil is actually moraine- debris of gravel and sand that collected above ice!)

The best thing with Matansuka Glacier Adventures is that we were not with a group unlike most guided glacier hikes! We were happier we did not have to go with other people! Not that we are allergic to people, but we preferred always to have our own time with nature. Our guide, Becky, was awesome and very knowledgeable with glaciology! We did not only save money, but we enjoyed and learned more from our private tour and lesson on ice! Though we were unfamiliar with hiking on ice, but it was actually so pleasant, easy, smooth, and above all, SAFE and fun with the help of our guide, Becky. Here are some more glacial features we found in our guided hike.

Features Inside Matanuska Glacier (you can click the picture to enlarge)

Inside Matanuska Glacier were a lot of little reflecting pools like in the above picture. Everywhere we looked seemed to be ice sculpture, such as the arch above and the hoodoo like formation which seemed to be looking up to heaven ready to catch all the blessings.

Just Us and our Guide Becky exploring Matanuska
( what a treat!!! I could imagine tha chaos if we went with bigger glacier guided tours )
After some easy uphill and downhill walk on ice, we reached the glacial lake inside the glacier. It was such an out of this world experience to be in it.

Glacial Lake inside Matanuska Glacier (you can click the picture to enlarge)
 (you can click the picture to enlarge)
Crevasse and Moulin  (you can click the picture to enlarge)

It was definitely interesting to see the crevasses and moulin up close. A moulin is a narrow, vertical tubular hole through which meltwater enters a glacier from the surface down to wherever it may go, sometimes into the sea.
This looks like Slot Canyon to Me, Only that the Walls are Ice

After our glacier hike, we stopped at the fireweeds meadow which is inside the Matanuska Glacier Park. On our way out, we saw the Micah Guides guided tour coming in, the company we were initially planning to reserve, and on seeing the crowd of people (too many) and the heavy clouds coming in (threat of rain), we felt so lucky we had a more private almost an on our own hike on ice. 
Fireweeds and Matanuska Glacier from Rifle Lodge in Rain

When we finally reached Rifle Lodge for lunch and physical nourishment, the heavy rain poured. I looked out at the glacier again from the restaurant, I couldn't help but thank nature for stopping the rain before we started our hike, and waited for us to finish the hike before the heavy rain poured again! I also thanked nature for beautifully intervening in our plans, saving us $40 each and giving us so many pictures to bring home without the crowd hanging around us. We discovered Matanuska Glacier Adventures by serendipity, rain was such a blessing for us on that day.
Pink Fireweeds and Blue Ice, What's Not to Love? 
** that giddy smile in the midst of pink wildflowers and blue glacier was because I was surrounded by pink and blue! :)  **

Though in our trip we saw several towering glaciers, have hiked to two valley glaciers, Exit Glacier and Byron Glacier, but we did not explore deeper inside because of our fear of unfamiliar glacial terrain. After Matanuska Glacier hike, we knew that experiencing the glacier inside cannot be compared from simply watching it up close, and we gained enough confidence that glacier hiking can be as safe as it can be.

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  1. I LOVE seeing you in these shots. That glacier is humongous!!! The fireweed shots in the park are just beautiful. You never cease to amaze me with your journeys :)

  2. Such a wonderful and I think a daring one. I wonder if these ice are slippery!

    Well, it is a surprise to see the fireweeds so profusely blooming in the midst of the Glacier.

    What a great adventure!

  3. Your experiences are just amazing and, when you finally hit those rocking chair days, what a collection of photographs and memories you will have to share with your grandchildren! I can't believe your great luck in getting that special hike so inexpensively. What is even better is that you went in a small group which made the experience so much more intimate.

  4. there you are and you hate cold and winter. hahaha adventurous lady.

  5. Super, isn't this dangerous?


  6. I would love to be able to do that some time. The ice is absolutely beautiful- my favorite color and one of my favorite temperatures. What's not to love?

  7. I'm always blown-away seeing your adventure and your photos of the glacier.

    I was thinking that after the rain, it should be very slippery, but you said it was safe and pleasant..So glad you all had such a fantastic time, Betchai!

  8. Beth, this is the kind of quality post I dream of publishing. So much helpful information and countless beautiful photos! Kudos my friend. You inspire us a lot! Mwa! *hugs*

  9. It's such a different world every time I visit your blog. You brought your adventure back to show how big and wonderful and amazing world we live in.

    Stunning photos to feast my eyes on!

  10. What a memorable adventure at a bargain! Sounds like it was an amazing hike with breathtaking sceneries.

  11. The glaciers are gorgeous. I have never seen glaciers before, they must have been awesome.

  12. So much snow and ice, it must have been quite a site in person. I would be so in awe of the surrounding.

  13. Looks like a bit of a challenge, but all is well for you my friend. Lucky girl.

  14. Dreaming to explore the I's very beautiful out there. You enjoyed a lot!

  15. a lake in the glacier - amazing! how is the wind up there? must be freezingly cold. i like this post sis

  16. Beautiful pictures you got there! Your very lucky you can experience all of that. If Im there i would do the same xploring the best of what Alaska can offer. Just I dont enjoy that too much cold. brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr....

  17. OMG! Sis, I bet it is very bone chilling while hiking those amazing glaciers. What a view those glaciers are :-) Blow my mind away :-)

  18. Wow, I don't think I will survive a hike like that AteB, I will freeze for sure! Gorgeous photos as usual!

  19. Oh no! I'm so tired of the snow on the ground right now, I don't think I will ever venture out to Alaska hahaha. Kudos to you! You're one adventurous lady. Hindi kaya ang mga kaya mo. You're built to explore the outdoors. Ako kasi lampa hahaha

  20. that looks amazing! but i am not sure How am I going to react in cold weather haha I am kinda not feeling good when I feel cold haha. though your hike looks fantastic!

  21. Ahh... another set of breathtaking photos from a nature lover! I super hope I can experience glacier hiking, too! :D Ms. Betchai, how cold is it ba in that place where you did the glacier hiking?

    Thanks nga pala for your sweet compliments re: Triz! :)

  22. Wow! What an adventure, Ate B! :) The view is breathtaking! I wish to find the guts to go there someday! <3

  23. One of my dream is to try glacier hike. Although it will be far long from happening as I embarked on new chapter of my life.

  24. It must be so freezing cold out there. But I can see you are enjoying it. Nice view, amazing.