That day, riding toward the glacier,
it appeared like a strip of ice glowing blue in the distance. Most of the
wildlife remained invisible, as it did
throughout most of my trip. The Walking Horses frisked and flat walked in
the cool temperatures.
I rode in an Alaskan-made riding
skirt that kept my legs warm and
dry, even when it rained or when the
horses splashed through creeks rushing with snowmelt. Bald eagles soared
overhead and a flock of trumpeter
swans with 8-foot wingspans crossed
the riverbed above our heads.
With no roads or marked trails, few
people make it out to this remote
backcountry. There’s nothing but
wilderness (and GPS coordinates) for
hundreds of miles.
I stayed in a private cabin at Butte’s
Bethel B&B, a five-acre organic farm
with the owners’ horses on the property, just outside Palmer, Alaska.
The area is a gateway to hundreds
of miles of beautiful and electrifying
wilderness, including the nearby blue-hued Knik Glacier and the Knik River
Recreation Area and the Plumley-Maud-Lazy Mountain green belt.
There’s a range of accommodations
available in the area from homey
B&Bs to the fancier Knik River Lodge,
along with local restaurants, like
Turkey Red on South Alaska Street
in Palmer, that serve fresh, local food
like salmon and abundant and warm
fresh-baked breads. Alaska Horse
Adventures and Alaska ATV Adventures are a half mile down the road
from Butte’s Bethel, rounding out all
kinds of adventure options.