Blog Six - Glacier View
5 May 2019
|Blog Six – Glacier View
Saturday 5 May 2019
We’re off to Glacier View today. We had brekkie down, car packed, place clean and a Grind coffee in hand and off by 9:00. It was good weather when we started from Girdwood but as we headed back through Anchorage it turned decidedly wet and gloomy. But as the weather in Alaska is as changeable as Melbourne it soon lightened as we headed out the Glenn Highway towards Palmer – our first stop.
This weekend was the Palmer Vintage Chicks Mountain Fair. Initially we didn’t think it was on as it is advertised as mid May but Billy Bob did a search and turned up a winner. For the CIA team – think of it as Etsy on steroids. There’s a lot of stuff handmade and other stuff that is really good recycled including furniture and we both did alright out of it. Shania got a silver ring with a moonstone and some earrings (of course), Billy Bob bought a genuine leather belt from the cobbler who put it together on the spot and we both bought fun water bottles. There was also about 20 food vans there and we tucked into those as well. We had some southern style slow roasted brisket and pork over a bun with accompaniments and a couple of Madam Wei’s dumplings. To round off the food extravaganza we bought three Sweetie Pies (small) fruit pies that are made with different fruit fillings, short crust pastry and then deep fried. Nothing like a cholesterol hit as you shop! But when in Alaska you have to try the local fare.
That done we headed through town to stop off for supplies for the next few days as we are unsure what is available and what we are doing as the places turn to more villages and small townships. Palmer however has…..yep a Fred Meyer! So we called in did a shop for a few days and a frappa of course. BUT no Thera Tears! First time we have refrained as Shania thinks she has enough. We’ll see.
A quick fuel up (this is always a challenge for us as you have to pay before you pump – explanation when we get home) and then off east down the Glenn with today’s booty safely stored. From Palmer it was a very easy hour and a half to Glacier View where our Google Maps led us astray for the first time – but not by much! We did however run out of road and had to do a u-turn and head back down the highway for a couple of minutes before arriving at our turn off and then up a bit into the mountains before arriving at our cabin. We went to the house to meet the owners and check in and pay the remaining amount and marvel at their view over the snow capped mountains. It was very cool however and for the first time we encountered the Alaskan mozzie. They are huge but very slow and an easy kill but they are out in numbers. So after swatting a few we headed back to our cabin for the next two nights.
Cute little cabin too. Had everything we needed including wifi but this one came with the rustic charm of no TV. So given our food truck experience earlier and the fact we didn’t need too much to eat is was quite early when we called it a night and bought out the trusty laptop to watch in bed. The things you have to sacrifice!
Sunday 6 May 2019
We had booked a glacier walk today at 2:00pm but we were pretty unsure what the weather was going to do as we are at elevation. So we decided to go and check out the place as they also had an 11:00am walk. The road was a bit iffy being completely dirt including interesting corners and a rickety bridge but after about 15 minutes we arrived at the boom gates to the glacier and sorted out to go early at 11:00 while the weather looked good,
It was good decision. The weather was quite good when we headed off with the guides in the van leading about six cars through the boom gates to the simple hut were we were given helmets and crampons. From here we were given the low down on the glacier, which was very evident in the background, and what to expect and how we would be proceeding. We had a guide at the front and at the back for the 15 or so of us and we headed off down the path with helmets on and crampons in hand. We soon reached a usual campground wooden table/chair structure and proceeded to fit the crampons to our boots. These were a lot better than the ones in Norway 15 years ago and it also appeared that the guides were also better and more conscious of the dangers associated with glacial tourism – the Norwegian guide definitely was not!
And so we gambled over the rocky front of the glacier for about 30 minutes to start to reach the snow and ice of the glacier. Another 15 minutes and we were on the ice of the glacial front to view the face and climb up on the ice structure and see up close the blue luminous colour of the ice. We never tire of seeing this type of ice and all the associated scenery as it is simply stunning and to see it up close and personal just adds to the experience.
Once we reached the face and the blue ice was directly under our feet we then meandered our way over the ice seeing more and more intricate ice forms and glacial streams wending their way down over the ice and onward towards the nearby Matanuska River. We had a good hour and half and towards the end we were led to one of the glacial streams and invited to either do a push up over the stream and take a drink or the more mundane fill a water bottle. Shania did Team Oz well and did the full push up down to the water and took a sip while Billy Bob put discretion over bravery and filled a water bottle. What a team. Either way the water was unsurprisingly very cold but also very good to taste. Mark and the team may just have to work out how to get some fluoride in it before it is consumed!
After sighting a smallish glacial waterfall and huge crevasse we started our way back over the rocks and ended up back at the shack to de-helmet and de-crampon and tip our guides. By the time we drove back up the mountain to the highway it was well past a hard earned lunch at the Long Rifle Lodge Restaurant about 200 metres down the road. On entering it was quite obvious we were in the wilds with probably every major mammal having been taxidermied and put on display in a not-so-subtle display of being the home of the hunter – hence the name. As we knew it was going to get a few patrons from our walk we arrived to an empty diner and chose the window seat as far as way from our stuffed friends as possible – and then ordered a hamburger.
Yes we do understand the irony here but hey, there’s a time and place and this isn’t the place to display your mammalian friends! Still we tucked into some good ol’ American cookin’ and it was pretty good and filling. We left quite contented while also watching the weather turn colder and damper and reassuring us that we had made the smart decision in going early.
We then drove the highway a bit in search of the fabled township of “Glacier View” but it appears that it is the same as Portage in that it is more an area than an actual township. Still, we would consider this area to have the best mountain views we have seen so far – and all snow capped making it a visual meal for the eyes. We did a bit more driving but ended up heading back to our cabin as it was starting to mist and we were going to have an early night as we have to be up early for our biggest drive of the trip, through to the Yukon and Haines Junction which we think will be about 10 or so hours, with a couple of pit stops including a border crossing.
And so we went home, did a bit of packing and had a couple of vodkas and Billy Bob had a couple of beers as well that were a present from our hosts and that pretty much pulled us up for the day. It was another good one and we can truly say we had our exercise for the day.