Travels

The Glenn Highway and the ox that survived the Ice Age

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I am missing fingers to tell the times that I will have opened my mouth to the legacy that our ancestors left in the prehistoric caves. There, great oxen, among other animals, were the object of worship and undisputed protagonists of true works of art. I never thought I could see the musk ox with my own eyes, the same one who lived with the imposing mammoths and woolly rhinos but, unlike them, survived the Ice Age and remains unchanged over thousands of years since that last glaciation. This is just one stop at the Scenic Glenn Highway that transforms our journey into a journey between glacial sites of valleys, rivers and mountains where the Matanuska stands out above all


Before all this, a stop in Anchorage has served us to stock up again. We are ready to face the wildest part of the adventure.

From Seward to Valdez ... on the Glenn Highway

Last night we went to bed with the decision made based on the road and not on the economy (although the ferry is about 320 USD and the gas we will spend around 200 USD). We still have almost 2 weeks to go and we are doing quite well with driving the motorhome. Definitely, we will go on the Glenn Highway from Seward to Valdez quietly.

HOW TO GO FROM SEWARD TO VALDEZ ?: They exist fundamentally 2 ways to get around from Seward to Valdez on your trip through Alaska, either by motorhome or by car


- Road trip (2 days), our decision. It is a journey of 423 miles (680 kilometers) unfeasible to do on a day but highly recommended to enjoy one of the most scenic routes that the country leaves, returning by the Seward Highway to Anchorage and taking the Glenn Highway to Glennallen to then go down to Valdez through the Richardson, leaving behind many charming stops, the Matanuska and Worthington glaciers, valleys, rivers, mountains ...
- Ferry route (1 day). Departing at Whittier (90 miles from Seward) there is a ferry that takes you to Valdez on a journey of about 6 hours. In addition to stopping the previous scenic route, the amounts with a motorhome are high (USD 79 per adult and USD 165 per vehicle, a total of around USD 320 as of this article although it may be a good idea for those who have less travel days More information at Alaska Marine Highway System

Our First night in "complete freedom" has been in a beautiful landscape between mountains, valleys and lakes. We have not missed the electricity (we used the generator 1 hour last night to pass the photos to the computers and the microwave) and we have the motorhome full of gasoline, gas and water, in addition to the gray and black water tanks still quite empty.




Since we left, around 8'15 already having breakfast, the Seward Highway still looks like that beautiful road that draws wild nature with, sometimes, infrastructures that seem impossible to fit in No wonder there is one of the most spectacular train routes around, which goes from Seward to Anchorage.



Today is a long day whose layout forces us to go through Anchorage again where we arrived around 11.40, which we have also appreciated coming back to get some more food at the same Fred Meyer supermarket on the day of themotorhome, supermarket and first kilometers collection Of which we have discount bonuses that were given to us on the first day (USD 66.39), loading gasoline as the cheapest point of our route for it even if the empty tank was not (USD 80.31) and taking more gigabytes of data for the router ( 65 USD) to prevent our entry into the most isolated part. Thus, around 13'00 we have headed to Palmer trying to avoid at times the highway taking alternative routes such as Curious Old Glenn Highway what happens to you by the same Twin Peaks (while the mosquitoes devour you, hahaha)

ITINERARY AND SUMMARY OF THE DAY:

The Seward Highway returns us to Anchorage and from there we take the scenic Glenn Highway that crosses some of the most beautiful places in Alaska (+ Google Maps with all the detailed stops)


Distance traveled: 263 miles
Hotel recommendation (for car + hotel travelers): Antlers Rest Bed and Breakfast

What restaurant do we eat today in Sele? Oh no, we have a motorhome (I had to say it, haha, I'm still in love with this way of traveling -my first time-). Just past Palmer We begin to see the glacier valley of more than 45 miles that leaves the Matanuska and that is certainly impressive. This is a good place to eat something fast and follow the route. It is not the healthiest thing in the world but ...




The great invention that should not be missing in any trip by motorhome, without a doubt, are these plastic covered packs that make our life much easier in this "mega chalet" that could be our house.



Being able to eat quietly inside the motorhome and even take a nap if we are tired (this is not the case since we take turns driving) is for me one of the great added values ​​of this trip.

The musk ox, an animal that survived the Ice Age

It was Christmas 2016 when that trip to Finnish Lapland It allowed us, under heavy snow, to know some of the most extraordinary beings on the planet that survive Arctic temperatures of many degrees below zero. Between them a creature that went completely unnoticed to me and, at that time, I was unaware of the importance of its existence.


The musk ox is not of this era but belongs to the Ice Age, one of the few that cohabited with mammoths, woolly rhinos or saber-toothed tigers but where they became extinct, these imposing animals overcame this glaciation and thousands of years more without undergoing major transformations at the cost of greatly diminishing their population on the planet even if their relatives from Eurasia were exterminated more than 200 years ago. And how do we see them in Alaska? A reinsertion project called "Musk Ox Project" It has the "fault"



We are in a non-profit farm of musk oxen close to Palmer, just 45 miles from Anchorage and already in the Matanuska valley where a visionary named John Teal saw in the 40s the possibility of re-inserting in this inhospitable land some of the barely 50 wild musk oxen that remained in the world, also called Oomingmak (by the natives of Alaska), Musk Ox or Ovibos moschatus



The current project was born in 1954 and is supported annually by a series of volunteers who continue the work that began at the time, in the textile of the animal itself (qiviut) and in the help of guided tours every day from 10 am to 6pm Performed for USD 11 per person, of course, we pay gladly.




The visit lasts approximately 45 minutes and allows to know how they have been recovering the species since barely 34 members who arrived from Greenland to more than 100 today in a very similar way, saving distances, which we could see in the Galapagos Giant Tortoise Breeding Centers where from the 48-50 copies released the first year had achieved the record of 1000 releases in our step in 2015.



Here, these huge mastodons of up 300 kilos of weight and 2.5 meters long that can live 25 years, they form flocks and are domesticated to survive as they have been reintroduced in Svalbard, Norway or Siberia, always under this type of climate to which it adapted to the cold of the glaciations. I could no longer live in another




Prior to this reinsertion, it was only possible to see them wild form in northern Canada and Greenland. Currently there are between 80,000 and 125,000 copies the population in the world with the particular case of the large community of almost 70,000 living on Banks Island (Canada). We will have to go, right?



Here they organize them according to ages and needs. There is an area for babies, another for mothers, another for males ... The most curious of all is that, despite looking like robust and fearsome animals, they are considered closer to sheep and rams than a bull, with its short legs, covered with long wool and its fearful behavior


And what about the name? I have had to look for this. It turns out that it seems that it comes from the smell of musk emanating from his glands. Both your skin and other aspects of this huge Paleolithic ruminant can be observed (and touched) also in the interpretation center of the entrance before or after the visit. They also have a store in case you want to bring a souvenir.

The Matanuska Glacier, one of the most accessible in Alaska

The Glenn Highway is a real show since you leave Palmer until you reach Glennallen. Parallel to an impressive canyon of the glacier valley that leaves the Matanuska, a 27-mile-long ice river can be seen among the Chugach mountains along the route. It is inevitable to stop and stop again




In addition, as if the sun knew our needs, it begins to appear illuminating the scenarios that the road leaves us in its path



It goes without saying that Alaska is prepared for motorhomes with numerous sidings and viewpoints every few miles. However, we have found that where it looks, it is not always the best stop and you get much more inspiring views and places almost in other makeshift sidings.


What you don't expect is to find, in the middle of nowhere, an uncle who speaks Spanish and sells dehydrated meat of elk, reindeer, buffalo and many more (15 USD) Aim, between miles 88 and 89 ... A must stop!



Another thing to keep in mind is to have a thousand eyes on the road. The scare of the day has led a moose that crosses us on the road. Luckily it has been far away but the jump we have already hit near theMatanuska Glacier State Recreation Site at mile 101. Remember, there are many better viewpoints later than in this place that intends to charge you for parking (we don't do it) for a platform to look at the glacier and some paths to get closer.




In the mile 102, for those looking for RV Parks, there is a camping area and private resort (you go down a gravel road where it says "No Glacier Access" but NI CASE, refers to a farm) although we keep moving forward until we get the best view. He Matanuska Glacier is one of the most accessible glaciers in Alaska and, for those who want it, it has one of the most famous trekking in this place that even puts you through a cave or allows you to rappel down a wall (30 USD for free and around 100 USD with agency for crampons and others activities). However, in our opinion (perhaps conditioned because we have done many crampon walks around the world and perhaps contribute less) to add a day we would do it in Russian River better than in Matanuska.


The retreat of the Matanuska glacier has also been impressive and nothing has to do with the current position of the moraine 43 kilometers long by 6.4 km wide with what could have been decades ago. What is beautiful now is the play of bright colors throughout this area. What a goodbye day gift!




Are around 20.10 when we decided to stop past Nelchina in a siding that moves away from the road and, again, makes us feel privileged in the nature of Alaska. It has been a long day in which we have been surprised not to see hardly any traffic on the roads. Perhaps the fact that this whole region is so large makes you find few cars at all times.

DECISIONS ON THE MARCH:

Taking advantage of the evening, we have been reading a little about Valdez. As tomorrow we will arrive with plenty of time, we will take the opportunity to walk, get to know the village and have dinner outside the motorhome for a day since we may not have many more occasions. What yes we have dedicated is to book a tour with a small company called Lullu Bell which has become very famous (the other most used here is Stan Stephens). In Seward we met some Spaniards who worked at the Israeli embassy very majetes and told us that they had loved it. Tomorrow we tell you more

The Seward Highway, Anchorage and the Glenn Highway have been part of a most scenic road trip but it may have been that discovery of a creature from another era, the musk ox, which has been the great surprise of the day. What will the descent to Valdez and this small fishing village bring us tomorrow? Alaska will decide.


Isaac (with Sele), from Glenn Highay near Glennallen (Alaska)

EXPENSES OF THE DAY: USD 248.70 (approx. EUR 226.09)

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