Alaska Peninsula Weekend Trip

I left Saturday morning for Cold Bay and Unimak Island and returned Sunday night.  In other words, I put on about 2200 miles and enjoyed some awesome scenery over the weekend.  I saw some beautiful weather and some not so beautiful weather.  Coastal flying conditions become more and more fickle as the seasons begin to change.  I am happy to be back in my warm bed tonight.  Here are a couple of pictures from the past two days.

A boat crossing Lake Clark.

Salmon in a stream.

Near the mouth of the Egegik River.

Beach Combing.

Crossing for Port Heiden.

Port Moller.

Crossing at Port Moller near Nelson Lagoon.

Trying to get off Unimak Island.

10 miles from home.

On the ground with the birds tied down.  Thankful.

Bent Metal

Well, we found a real fixer-upper today.  This wreck has been here since the 1980's.  It's a real piece of garbage, but one of those cool Alaskan airstrip ornaments.  I've flown over it dozens, if not hundreds, of times but I've never landed.   The brush has pretty well gotten her covered up.  We had a few extra hours to kill today so Mike and I found a spot to land and check it out.  We had to take our pants and shoes off to cross the river in order to get to it.  It was a good day.  Good memories already.

Photos of The Day -- Go Hunting!

We hauled a 41.5" ram out of the Talkeetna mountains this month.  The best part is that we did not even know it was in there.  All we knew was that there were rams in the valley, and we believed they were legal.  These guys stayed and hunted for 7 days and took this beautiful animal as a reward.  

On the other hand, I just picked my brother up from his sheep hunt.  I dropped him in an area where I have seen some nice rams in the past.  We did no buzzing of sheep on the way in, even though we saw sheep.  My brother walked his legs off, and never saw a legal animal, there is nothing wrong with that.  He was in sheepy country, he hunted hard, he glassed numerous rams, and he never squeezed the trigger, but he had an epic experience.  It's called hunting, not killing, for a reason.  We believe in the hunting, and taking of game, NOT spotting, buzzing, landing, and killing.  I struggle to call the latter a "hunting trip".

It is always nice to show clients animals from the air.  It makes them feel good, and it makes me feel good.  But, #1) it's not always possible to find the game on a quick pass and #2) It's usually not the right thing to do, to go buzzing animals in the middle of hunting season.  Airplanes buzzing sheep have spoiled two of our clients opportunities this year already.  It is infuriating to the hunter on the ground when a pilot/wannabe-hunter buzzes a sheep three, four, five times.  These are just a couple of issues that we deal with every day in this line of work.  It's all really fun stuff, but things go sour when people forget that hunting is supposed to be a memorable and enjoyable experience as a whole, not just a kill.

41.5" Talkeetna Ram.

Bull caribou on the ridge.

Happy hunter headed to the plane with his Chugach ram.

Cloudy, beautiful, days.

My cessna 185 departing one of my favorite places.

Another beautiful Chugach ram taken after a full 10 day hunt.

Picking up my brother after an awesome hunt.

8 Pictures From Today at Work

Lots of clouds today.  The fog was in and out all morning, but we finally got to work around mid-day and got 12 people moved, plus a load of freight, before eating a late dinner.  It was 2 goat hunters, 3 caribou hunters, 2 pack rafters, 2 sheep hunters, and 3 gold miners.   The clouds hung in the mountains all day so we had to work for it.  Thankful for the sunshine, fresh snow, and beautiful fall colors.

Pavlov Volcano Eruption June 2nd, 2014

We were working at the base of Pavlov Volcano on June 2nd when it erupted.   We arrived in Cold Bay on May 31st.  Pavlov blew on June 2nd under beautiful blue skies.  Over the next two weeks we never saw the mountain again because of clouds.  Viewing an eruption like this was probably the opportunity of a lifetime.  We were literally right there watching lava shoot out the top, then watching a flash flood rage down the mountain as hot lava melted spring snow.  Pavlov is more than 8200' tall and considered to be one of the most consistently active volcanos in the Aleutian Arc.  

I should have gotten these photos posted sooner, but summertime is just too busy to stop and play on the blog.  I would be out flying right now, but the wind is blowing in the Chugach Mountains.  I just sat down at my computer and saw these pictures and decided it was time to do something with them.

Pavlov Volcano Eruption June 2nd, 2014

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Several Photos From the Last Few Days -- Glassing Rams From the Air Strip

It's bittersweet when a legal ram watches you land.  It's awesome that there are legal rams in the valley, not so awesome that they know you are there.  I thoroughly enjoyed watching these guys through the spotting scope with the hunter.

I found a new spot to land.  Should be some good caribou hunting.

Enjoying the view as always.  Interesting fact ... this lake did not exist just 10 years ago.  I've watched it grow high in the Talkeetna Mountains this lake has appeared at the toe of an unnamed glacier.

Looking down onto the Matanuska Glacier.

A nice 39" ram we pulled out today.  His hunting partner also took a 38+ on opening morning.

A hunter testing the sat-phone before I depart.  Iridium sat-phone service  generally works really well, but this particular valley is so narrow and deep that satellites are not always within view.   Hunters have struggled to make calls with consistency from this location.

Another hunter dropped high in the Talkeetna Mountains.

Photo of the Day -- 2 Pics, Sorta' The Same

Not a bad little view.  This is in the Alaska Range, in the Kichatna Mountains.  I took this picture last month while fly towards Farewell. Every time I fly by this peak I take a picture, and it is seldom disappointing.  My 4 year old daughter could take a picture of this mountain, and it would look great.  I don't think you can go wrong with a camera when the landscape is this extreme.  Here is a picture from the same mountain at a lower altitude.  It's actually one of my all-time favorites, and I have it blown up and hanging on the wall in my hangar.

I took this picture several years ago while looking for sheep.  One of the greatest things about this job is that while the landscape stays the same, the perspective is always changing.

Photos of the Day--It's Been a Good Couple Days

It's amazing how the summer fly's by.  It's August 1st today, which means hunting season is just around the corner.  This time next week we will be hauling sheep hunters into the Chugach and Talkeetna mountains.  This time next month and the leaves on the trees will be yellow and falling.  I love this time of year because it's still summer, but you can feel the change in the air.

The last couple of days have been beautiful.  Yesterday my brother and I flew around in the Chugach all afternoon landing in various places and thoroughly enjoying each minute.  We have been busy flying for the gold mine, and doing NOLS re-rations. This afternoon we flew 15 people off of an strip using the super cubs.  Then we grilled up some salmon and reindeer sausage for dinner.  I do love Alaskan summers and all the cool people we get to meet.

NOLS AKX6 near the Tonsina Glacier.

Taxing for departure.

Zach landing at one of our favorite Chugach strips.

On the glacier.

AK-23 in the hangar this evening.

Alaskan Summer.