The Mat-Su Valley is a 23,000-square-mile area north of Anchorage that is bounded by the Matanuska and Sustina Rivers. It’s one of the fastest growing population centers in Alaska. The valley is surrounded by three mountain ranges and is known for its world-record size cabbages. This photo shows the Chugach Mountains rising high above the Knik Glacier. The dark stripe down the center of the glacier is called a medial moraine, which is a seam of rock scraped from the valley edges by two glaciers that have merged into one.
Like a fist of rock, the 900-foot Bodenburg Butte rises up in the middle of the flat Mat-Su Valley. We had a terrific view of the Knik Glacier from the top of the butte.
This farmer’s field with its random collection of hay bales caught my eye.
Because of the long, cold winters and short summers, Alaska is not the best place to grow crops. Yet some crops do quite well in these harsh conditions. These include hay, potatoes, lettuce, carrots, and especially cabbage, which can grow over 100 pounds in the 24-hour light of summer.
This bald eagle soared above us while we rested atop Bodenburg Butte.
The Mat-Su Valley is one of the few active farming regions in Alaska. Surrounded by three mountain ranges, the valley is protected from the harshest Pacific Storms but still manages to receive enough rain to support some crops.
Darby rested and enjoyed the view of the pretty Talkeetna Mountains.
The colorful Chugach Mountains are a fixture in southern Alaska. The 250-mile long range of mile-high mountains dominates the skyline in Anchorage, the Mat-Su Valley, and all the way east to Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
The Knik Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in southcentral Alaska. It’s over 25 miles long and averages 5 miles wide.
The weather was perfect for our climb up Pioneer Ridge to a spectacular viewpoint of the Knik River and Glacier. We stopped for lunch on a picnic table that students from a local high school carried up the steep ridge piece-by-piece.