Trapped On Matanuska Glacier…Almost

trapped on a glacier surrounded by glaciers

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What started as an enjoyable weekend in Anchorage turned into a stressful afternoon, one that I thought would be my last. Because I was trapped on Matanuska Glacier…

Trapped On Matanuska Glacier…Almost

view of Matanuska Glacier, Alaska.
Matanuska Glacier is gorgeous, but almost being trapped there was scary

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An airfare sale had given me an excuse to visit Anchorage around mid-May.  Since it was early in the season, most of the ice climbing trips weren’t operating.  I wasn’t about to let that deter me and decided to hike Matanuska Glacier, but I only had 8 hours before my flight.

With my flight scheduled to leave that evening, I planned to leave early in the morning, hike Matanuska, and get back to town with a few hours to spare.  But it didn’t quite work out that way.

Matanuska Glacier is only a two-hour drive from Anchorage unless you go the scenic route…

After what seemed like forever, but was only 3 hours, I arrived at the Matanuska Glacier gift shop, paid the $20 access fee and drove 2 miles to the station.

Roads you aren’t supposed to follow are cleverly blocked off Alaska style.

road block in Alaska on the way to Matanuska Glacier.
Fancy Alaskan road block

The path to the toe of the glacier was clearly marked by orange construction cones, and in 10 minutes I was on the ice.  But that’s where the marked path ended and the real adventure began.

The path to Matanuska Glacier is marked.
Marked path

The blue seracs beckoned and taunted me and I was determined to conquer them.

Matanuska Glacier seracs

I could hear the rushing water underneath the ice.  The crunch of fresh ice sounded like gunshots. Every unguided step was a rush of adrenaline – was my footing secure?  Would I plummet through a crevasse?

It took me 1½ hours but I made it.  I was in the heart of the valley, surrounded by glaciers.

In the heart of the Matanuska Glacier valley.
In the heart of the Matanuska Glacier valley

I started back but every glacier looked the same and each step led me back towards the searcs.  I had gotten turned around, had no idea how far I had hiked and had two hours to get to the airport. And I was still on the glacier.

I had hiked out with a couple who arrived in Anchorage that morning.  We parted ways after we reached the valley since they were going to stay out in the glacier longer.  Thankfully, at the point where I thought I would be trapped on the glacier, they came upon me and we made it back to our cars.  But it did inspire 7 tips for a successful glacier hike.

Next time I’m bringing breadcrumbs to mark my path, like Hansel and Gretel. Or maybe going on a group hike to Matanuska Glacier.

Have you hiked a glacier?  Ever gotten lost?

Pin this to your travel, vacation, or adventure board:

Matanuska Glacier in Alaska is one of the few glaciers you can drive to, just don't get trapped like I did.

Book a hike to Matanuska Glacier or other activities in Alaska.

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Debra Schroeder

Debra is a former 12-year travel industry executive and has traveled the world using airline miles and credit card points since 1994. She'll teach you the secrets of traveling well for less.

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