Sunday, August 19, 2012

Wasilla/Palmer, AK –The Iditarod headquarters and the Musk Ox Farm and The Matanuska River Campground

Tuesday, July 31st- We left the Centennial Campground in Anchorage and drove up the Glenn Hwy about 30 miles to Wasilla. There, we settled Jade in at the Alaska TLC Kennel, where she would spend a couple of nights while we were off on other adventures.
While in Wasilla, we stopped by the Iditarod Headquarters.
The Iditarod is a sled dog race which runs from Anchorage to Nome, AK. We watched a video and learned more about some of the past winners…..
And we got to meet a few of the newest puppies.
Then, we had an amazing experience of being pulled in a cart by a real Iditarod dog team. The driver of the dog tem is the son of the founder of the modern Iditarod race, and a 14 time competitor, himself.
These dogs were smaller than I had thought they would be. We later learned that the Iditarod dogs are usually smaller than freight hauling sled dogs. Their smaller size makes them faster, and keeps them from overheating as they run 100 + miles in a day. It is hard to believe that the weather can be –20 degrees and the dogs can still overheat…..
Adjacent to Wasilla is the town of Palmer, where we stopped by the Musk Ox Farm. Musk Ox are rather ancient creatures that actually belong to the goat family, not the oxen.
This farm was started with a group of musk ox from Canada, with the purpose of using the soft under fur, or qiviut, for weaving. Qiviut is softer and warmer by weight than wool. The native populations were already using this fiber for its insulating qualities, and this musk ox farm pays the native peoples to weave the qiviut into scarves and hats which are sold at their outlet store.
We were a bit disappointed in our visit at this farm. We were not able to get close to any full grown musk ox, but were able to see these 2-3 year olds. They are strange and interesting creatures which are better understood as just rather large and hairy goats.
In the afternoon, we met up with Nova, an outfit that provides guided glacial tours and white water rafting. We checked in at their office in Chickaloon, (mile 76 on the Glenn Hwy) then drove on up to the Nova staging area at Hicks Creek (mile 96). Our plan - to hike the Matanuska glacier that afternoon…….
Then, spend the night in our camper beside the Matanuska River and, the next day embark on a rafting overnight with Nova on the Matanuska. As far as campsites go….. IMG_8875
You could not ask for a more beautiful setting!

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