September 24, 2015

Visiting Alaska Glaciers

Glaciers are the Earth's largest fresh water reservoirs. These ancient rivers of ice slowly creep through the landscape and shape the surface as we see it. Unfortunately, glaciers are retreating at an unprecedented rate. One reason why I feel extremely blessed to be able to see glaciers up close.

In Alaska, you can even walk on some of them, for example Matanuska Glacier, which is just a couple of hours drive away from Anchorage, the main hub in southern Alaska. is a great website for additional information, especially the following article on the Matanuska-Glacier Scenic Drive:

There, you can zip-line, book recreational tours and experience the wondrous blue ice yourself. Sadly, it can get quite expensive there - as far as I know, the land that leads up to the glacier is privately owned and it costs $20 per person to get in. It's still worth visiting the State Recreational Site that is a few miles down the road.

Another glacier you can get very close to is located in the Chugach National Forest and part of the Kenai Fjords National Park: Exit Glacier. Starting at the Visitor Center, there is a network of short trails that lead up to the foot of the glacier. Along the way, you get different views. Even there though and even if you take the longest hiking trail, you will not get to touch the ice itself. It is roped off. On a positive note, even my dad (who was 78 years old at the time of his visit), manages the hike up to Exit Glacier's ropes, which are still much worth the effort up-hill. It makes an excellent day-trip from Anchorage. Again, a couple of hours drive down to the Seward Peninsula. Additional information for Exit Glacier is published on the National Parks website:

The third glacier I visit is Portage Glacier, as well located within the Chugach National Forest. You first drive to the town of Whittier (about 45 minutes from Anchorage). From there you take a boat out to the glacier. (Make sure to dress in layers, even in summer, as the temperature can get quite cool). Whittier is situated at the head of Passage Canal at the Western edge of the Prince William Sound. The small town is nestled along picturesque mountains, which almost guarantees great landscape pictures. However, most of the about 200 residents of Whittier live in an former Army building, 14 stories high, and called the "Begich Tower." Walking by, its flair is more industrial than scenic. The glacier-tour makes up for that though. A NPR-report promises more information:

You may wonder why I am not uploading many of my wonderful pictures... to be honest, because I can't figure it out yet. Every time I choose the "insert image" link, the opening window freezes and I have to log out and back in again - frustrating. So maybe one of you peeps could help me out with that ;-)

Otherwise, ask away if you have questions. I'd love to give you my input on Alaska and its glaciers from the couple of years I lived there.

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