Monday, March 21, 2016

Glaciers ~ Glenn Highway ~ Alaska

Travelling the Glenn Highway in Alaska

Our travels viewing the beautiful mountains of Alaska continued as we made our way along the Glenn Highway to Anchorage.

Tolsona Winderness Campground
We had a nice shady campsite at Tolsona Wilderness Campground, nestled in the trees with the Tolsona Creek only feet away.  We’d been told to be prepared for lots of flies and mosquitoes on these travels but although they might be most expected here, we did not have any problems with them all summer.

Chugach Mountains
We were south of the Alaska Range and travelling west but still enjoying views of mountains off in the distance.  I believe these ones were part of the Chugach Mountain range, which covers a massive part of southern Alaska.

Knik Glacier
We did not do any glacier exploring but Glenn Highway is one of the few roads that give easy access up to a glacier so you can walk on it.  I did not see any identifying signs but this may be the Knik Glacier.  This icefield is one of the largest at 40 km (25 miles) in length and 8 km (5 miles) wide and sits at the northern end of the Chugach Mountains.  Access is only available through the Knik Glacier Tours.

Glenn Highway
The Glenn Highway, #1 begins at Glennallen and extends past Anchorage, AK.  It was named in honor of the leader of the Cook Inlet Exploring Expedition.  In 1898, Congress had directed the army to locate the most practical route overland in Alaska.  The Gold Rush had arrived and there were few roads so Capt. Glenn began the journey but met many difficulties and although they learned geographical information, there were no routes found .

A drunken forest
A very common tree in Alaska is the Black Spruce tree.  Due to the permafrost and temperature changes in that, the trees often lean over and therefore look like and are called the drunken forest.  This is a small example of the many we saw on these travels.

Matanuska Glacier
The Matanuska Glacier is about 160 km (100 mi) from Anchorage, Alaska on Hwy 1.  It is a valley glacier that is 43 km (27 mi) long and 6.4 (4 mi) wide and is the largest glacier accessible by car in the USA.

Calm lakeside lunch break
We pulled over to a rest area on the side of the road, which also happened to be lakeside.  The tranquille lake had several other visitors stopping for lunch, as well.  This drive on Glenn Highway is a big tourist attraction due to the glaciers and the views.

Musk Ox
We had tried on several occasions to see a musk ox in the wild, but to no avail.  We came upon a Musk Ox Ranch so decided we would stop to have a close up look at these large animals.  There was a museum with a stuffed one, done beautifully, with lots of other memorabilia in there concerning the musk ox.  We were not able to visit the live musk ox without a tour but the next one available meant we had to wait too long so we had to make do with taking some pictures through the fence, and that is the closest we ever got to a living musk ox!

Knik River
The Knik River is just one of over 12,000 in Alaska but most of the others we had seen up to this point had been braided rivers with little water flowing through.  It was nice to see this big river full of water as we crossed over it.  


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