Alaska to SC Road Trip: Alaska, Matanuska Glacier

It’s to bad that Rachel and James (James Riley Images) didn’t come to Alaska at a better time. The past few weeks have been nothing more than wet and cold, everyday. It wasn’t exactly the ideal weather for a vacation for either of them. In fact, it broke a record of the most continuous rainfall during a month period. However coming from Charleston, Alaska’s weather seemed very refreshing, sweat didn’t pour down your face the second you walked outside. Visiting Alaska is a grand experience for anyone, especially those coming from a place that is flat everywhere in sight. The mountains of reach far into the sky and the rocky terrain looks as if it had come straight out of the Lords of the Rings film. When I first heard that James and Rachel were coming up, I immediately began brainstorming tons of activities for them to do, quickly I realized that my list became too large, it would have been impossible to get to them all. It was hard to narrow down the few things I would show them. To myself I asked what is the best way for them to see Alaska. Well, the best way to see Alaska is from the sky, so that’s the first thing we did.

On Monday morning, Rachel and James pulled into the parking lot where I greeted them at Land and Sea Aviation, located on Merrill Field Airport, only a mile from downtown Anchorage. We grabbed our bags and walked into the hanger. The smell of grease fumes filled the air and florescent lights casted a green hue on the shiny surface of the airplanes. In the distance stud Joe, our pilot. Joe is my photographer associate, but also, an Alaska adventurist at its extreme. He began with the usual safety briefing explaining the possibly that the plane could crash and we could be stranded for days and hits for the reason of bringing all the survival gear. After nearly scaring them both with the “what if” talk, we loaded up in the plane and initiated take off. Only moments later were we in the air battling the horrendous turbulence from the rough wind. I know this was a horrible day to go flying but it was the only chance we had, not to mention it was the only day that wasn’t pouring rain.

For a brief moment the clouds parted, allowing a quick glimpse of the blue sky that illuminated from above. Meanwhile the winds held strong and James began to feel sick from the constant rocking and jolting of the plane. Knowing that the winds were to strong to continue, we had to take an alternative route than originally planned. The fog began to thicken as we closed in on Talkeetna, a small town two hours north of Anchorage. Thankfully Joe was an experienced pilot and had no trouble landing the plane. It was a half mile walk downtown and to the Denali Brewing Company, this is where we would break for lunch before returning to Anchorage.

The day was still young when we landed and therefore we decided to explorer a few trails at the Eagle River Nature Center. The air was calm and offered a cool temperature that refreshed us as we hiked. The wildlife seemed to be absent, a sense of dead presence surrounded us. Perhaps this was due to our loud voices echoing throughout the forest. We continued down the path engulfed by aging birch and spruce trees, flourishing plant life, and randomly scattered boulders of rock.

The next day we headed out to one last location for me to share, the Matanuska Glacier. It was the official first day of my extreme road trip. The glacier was about 2 hours northeast of Anchorage. Rachel and James followed behind me so I could then continue on after and head toward the Canadian border. Finally, the sun revealed itself from behind the clouds, just in time to light the glacier perfectly as we approached.

I felt the temperature drop 10 – 15 degrees as we descended closer on to the pathway. As a glacier develops it basically carves it’s way down through the valley and cuts away part of the mountain base. Here you can see that rock that has been carved as the glacier melts away.

After a lot of slipping on the ice, we finally made it to a point that was no longer safe to continue. So we headed back talking and singing ridiculous songs aloud that made the moment more fun and memorable. When we returned to the car, we all said our goodbyes and I continued on down the highway.

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