Not Scenic, but Super Cool, A Bunch of Wolves

I was on a job a few weeks ago and we were looking for wolves.  We found a couple of caribou kills, and then followed the tracks.  We were pretty pumped when we caught 16 wolves climbing up out of the drainage.  I think they were full enough on caribou meat that they were not moving very fast.  The first photo shows 11 of the wolves, but there were 3 more above them and 2 below.  That was the biggest pack I have ever seen, and I've got to admit, I was pretty excited.  

This photo reminded me that a few years ago I was radio tracking dall sheep in the Chugach mountains when we found a couple of wolves camped out on a mountain peak lounging in the sun.  Interestingly, not far below them was a dozen sheep standing very still above the cliffs, trying not to move.  They were probably pretty safe from the two wolves, but I did not envy their position.  Luckily, I managed to get a picture and you can see it here.

Lots of really cool stuff to see in this state, and I have not even begun to scratch the surface. 

Yesterday Sure Was Nice.

I spent the daylight hours airborne.  I never hit a bump and I never saw a cloud in nearly 7 hours.  Denali was huge on the horizon, and the temperatures were a mild 15 degrees.  It may not be much of an authentic Alaskan winter ... but it certainly has it's upside.  

Talkeetna Mountains with Denali on the horizon.

Descending down into The Mat-Valley.

Long shadows on the Talkeetnas.

Denali, with the Talkeetnas in the foreground.

No Snow. No Problem. Fat Bike.

This tradition is at least a decade old, maybe two decades.  It's MLK day, so we celebrate.  Usually it involves skis and guns.  This year, with the lack of snow, skis were not really an option.  So we went Fat/Stud-biking.  I did not fall under the "stud" category, so I tried to slip into the "fat" category.  Not a problem.  My friends were starting on a slippery lake, so I by-passed the lake with the Super Cub and tried to meet them on the gravel bar of the Knik.  I ended up navigating a frozen creek trying to locate them on the ground, and it's a miracle I did not break a hip.  If you've never peddled a bike wondering if ice thickness or traction is your greatest enemy ... you're smarter than me.  Good-times had by all.  Here's the pics.

Thanks Speedway cycles for selling me an affordable fat-bike!

Correction: DSLR Does Fit Out Cub Window.

I took both planes out for a walk this morning.  Ali's been hounding me to go flying so I figured I needed to quit being a bad dad and take the girl up!  You see, this time of year is really slow for us.  Both planes pretty much just sit there, and it's not good for the engines.  So occasionally I will tape the oil cooler off (in order to ensure my oil temps actually reach at least 180 degrees), and then take them out for a cruise.

I took big dog (the DSLR) with me ... and Ali was not impressed when I opened the window.  Cabin temperature dropped significantly, but she is a tough girl.  I also went up the Knik, and was impressed by the utter lack of snow.  Then I came home to my nice warm hangar which I am so very thankful for.  The heated hangar is largely to blame for the lack of photos being posted these days.  I've pretty much had my tool belt on since October 1st.  My only complaint is that I am so excited about my hangar I can barely sleep at night, and I'm getting tired.  I'm very thankful.  Here's a couple pics.

My fingers got cold.

The Chugach.

The "Blue Ice" of the Knik.

Lake George and Colony Glacier.

The Gorge

The Matanuska River, and Palmer's lack of snow.

My Little Buddy.

I'm very fond of this view.

The Hangar.

Family Pictures. No Airplanes.

It was an excellent holiday season.  I love the family time, the cold, the dark, the food (when I wasn't sick).  Christmas is just awesome.  We took every opportunity to celebrate and be thankful this holiday season.  Feeling blessed in AK, now on to 2015, Bring it!!

Pocket Rocket Vs. DSLR. I'm lost.

Here is a random picture from September 2014.  It was taken near our base at Sheep Mountain with the Glenn Hwy. under my wing.  I was looking at this photo thinking how disconcerting it would be to stick my new Nikon D7100 DSLR out the window with one arm.  I'm not even sure it would fit out the window.  I love my little point and shoot $200 canon but I recently decided to take the plunge and purchase my first "real" camera.  I kind of love it and I mostly hate it, but I'm intrigued.  Looking at all the buttons on the DSLR makes me feel smart, but pressing the buttons immediately highlights my stupidity.  I want to learn how to take great pictures with nice equipment and maybe even someday sell my photos, but for now I will walk the line between recklessly shoving my arm out the window of the plane with a pocket rocket, and trying to take an actual quality picture with a $1600 monstrosity.  

Mostly Just Scenic Alaska Pics from This Week

Illiamna Volcano.

Looking South over the TikChiks.

Mae's pet bull MooMoo hanging out in Tuluksak Alaska.

Sometimes I even land to take a break, Tuluksak is nice.

Goodnews Bay, Alaska.

Sunrise near Togiak.

Sunrise near Togiak.

Early Alpenglow near Togiak.

I love early morning flights in Alaska in Late October (still using a headlamp at nearly 10AM).

The Tikchiks.

Sunset on Cook Inlet.

Sunset on Cook Inlet.

Sunset on Cook Inlet.

Sunset on Cook Inlet.

Dusty wind at Big River Lakes.

Northeast end of Lake Clark, at the sand bar.

Near Keyes Point.

The Nushagak river beginning to freeze.

Clouds over the Alagnak River.

Confused islands on Lake Illiamna.

Clouds and light freezing rain near Pedro Bay.

Crossing the Alaska Range.

A Few More Happy Clients, With and Without Game.

These photos were taken during the past 10 days.  It has been very busy, and I have not had adequate time to highlight all the different hunting parties coming through the door.  We have hauled many more people than those pictured below, these are just the ones I managed to get photos of.  We are so thankful for all of our awesome clients and friends who fly with us each year in order to experience Alaska's vast wilderness.  With your help it has been a successful year! 

Picking up a caribou in the Talkeetna Mountains (590 permit)

Currently out chasing caribou and sheep in the Talkeetnas.

Father/Son moose hunting team still in the field.

Mike Mitten with a nice 60" bull.  Taken on a solo hunt, with a recurve bow, from the Chugach mountains.

Hauling out a 60" bull from the Talkeetna mountains.

First caribou taken with the help of friends from the Talkeetna Mountains (590 permit).

A very nice caribou taken by a Father/Son team from the Talkeetna mountains.

This Father/Son team took 2 caribou on a party hunt with 590 permits, and they are from NYC and Pittsburg!.  Awesome job!!

My dad and a long time friend.  Look out Moose!

Happy moose hunter soaring above the Talkeetna mountains.

Father/Son moose hunting team in the Chugach.

Sheep hunters in the Chugach.

Picking up caribou hunters from the Talkeetna mountains (590 permit).

Picking up a solo sheep/caribou hunter in the Talkeetna mountains.  Success with the caribou, none with the sheep.

To book your hunt, call Mike Meekin at (907) 355-6159.  Or email him at

Father Daughter Date, AK Style.

It get's really busy this time of year, and it's hard to squeeze in adequate family time.  But, Ali and I managed to sneak away for a couple of hours and do some exploring.  We landed out on the glacier and I showed her the ice my air taxi is named after.  We even threw some huge rocks down into a moulin and jumped across some crevasses.  She thought she was pretty cool.  We also landed out on the river and picked up a moose antler and Ali tracked a bear.  I don't want time to stand still, because I think that would be weird, but I would not mind if the Alaskan Autumn lasted about 2 weeks longer.  The North wind is picking up this morning and I am afraid the leaves are going to blow away today. 

Well, I've got to go drop off some moose hunters now that my coffee is gone.  And, I hope all you Alaskans are ready for the first Fall storm.  Kings Salmon is already blowing 35 knots, and Palmer is supposed to be at 32 knots by noon ... here we go again.

Caribou Hunting Has Been Good

These critters were hauled in from the Talkeetna Mountains yesterday.  These are GMU 13 caribou, and the hunters that took these are still out chasing sheep around in the hills.  It's been a good year.  We are in the fog and rain now, and the snow continues to creep down the hills...but I'm sure it will be hot and sunny next week :o)