We spent a couple of days in the Mat-Su Valley area on the border between Palmer and Wasilla. We went to a reindeer farm located in Palmer. It is a family owned farm that raised them as pets. On the way there, Don asked if a reindeer was actually a deer. We found out that reindeer are caribou that are in captivity (they are deer because caribou are part of the deer family).
They are also quite tame and Leslie got to feed them. They are not capable of kicking with their back legs, their antlers are very tender when they are growing so they do not use them to touch you and they have only bottom teeth in the front of their mouth so they cannot bite you. They can, however, get a little excited over food and many times Leslie was surrounded. The animal in the first picture is an elk. The farm also had a heard of elk. We were not allowed to go in with them as they can hurt you.
The reindeer farm was for Leslie, so we stopped by Arkose Brewery in Palmer for Don to try a few bears (last picture). He liked a couple of them, but they only sell growlers, and alas, there is not room in our tiny RV refrigerator for a growler.
We went to Independence Mine State Historical Park (4th and 5th) in the Talkeetna Mountains. The 4th picture is a ground squirrel that we saw while hiking around the mine site. Gold is what drew thousands of adventurers to “the last frontier”. Placing miners (people panning for gold) found rough-textured gold in the bottom of pans and sluice boxes which hinted at something more: a nearby source, or mother lode. Hard rock (lode) gold was scattered in quartz veins throughout the granite in the Talkeetna Mountains. These veins were created by hydrothermal action that filled fractures in the rock. Erosion loosened flakes of gold, and flowing water eventually washed the gold-bearing gravel into a stream.
Robert Lee Hatcher discovered and staked the first lode gold claim in the Willow Creek Valley in September 1906. Lode mining (or hard rock mining) is expensive because it involves actual mining of the gold. In its peak year 1941, the company that owned the mine employed 204 men, blasted nearly a dozen miles of tunnels, and produced 34,416 ounces of gold worth $1,204,560; today $17,208,000. The mine was ordered to close during World War II. After the war, gold could only be sold to the government for a set price, so it was not as profitable as it once was and the mine was permanently closed in 1950.
The rest of the pictures are from Hatcher’s Pass which is in the Talkeetna Mountains. The lake is Summit Lake. Hatcher’s Pass is an alpine tundra. An alpine tundra is a region that does not contain trees due to its altitude and adverse climate which is too cold and windy to support tree growth.