One of my favorite things to do when I’m back home is to go flying with my dad. He’s been a bush pilot since 1970 and over the years, he has shown me the world from many different vantage points. I grew up flying with him to remote areas of Alaska and depending upon the season, we’d land with floats on water, skis in the winter or we’d bump along in tundra tires on a rough, homemade runway in the middle of nowhere. At the time, I didn’t realize how special this was because it was simply what we did — but as an adult living in the “Lower 48” now, I feel especially grateful for such a unique experience. It definitely helped shape my love of travel and flying!
Alaska has multiple mountain ranges spanning across most of the state, but the largest and perhaps most well known is the Alaska Range. It houses North America’s highest peak, Denali (aka Mt. McKinley @20, 310 ft. high) and on a clear day, it’s truly a magnificent sight to see. Last summer we flew around it and landed in the park (photos coming soon), so this year we decided to go slightly east, along the Wood River towards Mount Deborah and Yanert Glacier. Finally, we stopped for a picnic near Gold King, an old Air Force communications site.
After leaving Fairbanks, we flew over the Tanana Flats. (above)
After the flats, we crossed over creeks and valleys on our way towards the mountains.
Taking photos in a small plane is pretty challenging! It’s bumpy; the windows are reflective; there are often wings in the way, etc. Even so, I like the way it creates an almost painterly effect in the images.
The Wood River.
Heading into the range.
It’s easy to feel really small and insignificant amongst these massive mountains.
Peaks for days.
A wider view of Mount Deborah and Yanert Glacier.
Meltwater from the glacier that feeds into the Wood River.
Following the Wood River back out.
Taiga (aka boreal forest) covers much of this area.
A quick stop near Gold King for lunch and a visit with some of my dad’s friends who have a cabin here.
Below is my dad’s Piper Super Cub — a 2 seater, single-engine monoplane.
Flying back to Fairbanks.
On a side note: I found this impressive video about 2 guys that climbed Mt. Deborah last year. I like to think I’m adventurous, but then I see something like this and realize I’ve got a lonnnng way to go… 🙂