Honeymoon Day 9: Matanuska glacier to Denali National Park and Preserve

This post is admittedly not about Sprout. In fact, it is pre-Sprout. However, we thought some people may be interested in our Alaskan travel and wanted to move our prior posts to this blog. This is post 9 of 13 in our Honeymoon Series.

Location: Matanuska glacier to Denali National Park and Preserve

Today we took a hike on a glacier. We’ve seen so many, we felt the need to get out and explore the chaotic ice environment more closely. We signed two foreboding disclaimers that said anything from a landslide, earthquake, to animal and/or terrorist attack may occur on the glacier and agreed we would not hold the park nor the tour company accountable for personal injury or death. We donned a stylish helmet and crampons (with two inch spikes), and were led onto the glacier by a young guide from Georgia (the state) — not exactly someone you’d expect to be an expert on glaciers. He showed us the features of the moraine, including glacier mud silt that you could stand on, which Aaron identified as a non-Newtonian fluid and circumvented nervously. The mud silt would liquefy with forced motion and solidify when at rest, thus having the potential to trap an unsuspecting person within it.  Jacqui walked directly across it. Soon we on the ice crossing ice streams of clear, blue glacier water and avoiding deep fissures in the glacier. We hiked to an “ice fall,” a steep region of towering pillars of ancient, blue ice. Aaron tenaciously asked the guide about glacier safety and how to identify crevasses and overhangs. The guide just shrugged and informed us that the guides scope out hazards prior to tours and that most hazards are fairly obvious once the snow melts off it (i.e. you can see the holes). The guide tapped a stream with his ice screw and we filled up our water bottles with the pure glacier water frozen into the glacier before the Industrial Revolution. Pretty cool (pun intended).

Ice trekking.

Crampons helped us stay upright as we walked on the slick ice.

The evening was calm and we enjoyed each other’s company while driving to Denali for the finale of our trip. Dessert before dinner (soft serve ice cream) usually puts us in a good mood. Surprisingly, or not, soft serve is rare in Alaska. We could see the 20,000-footer, Denali (‘the High One’), amongst the clouds as we drove the road to the park. We approached the park gates around 10:30pm (in broad daylight) and scanned the sides of the road for wildlife. We spotted several caribou enjoying their late night snack along the road. Aaron tried to get their attention by yelling ‘boo!’, when that didn’t work he tried “Cari-BOO! ‘. Eventually, they turned and we are fairly certain that they rolled their eyes at us.

A caribou (edit: this is actually another moose).

I think he was wondering why we were disturbing his dinner.

Tomorrow we are heading to the Kantishna Roadhouse, 95 miles past the Denali park gates, to the foot of the mountain, the tallest in North America. Thus, we will not post again for a few days as there will not be internet, phone, or tv at the Roadhouse – living the way Mother Nature intended (except for the on-site gourmet chef)!

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