Friday, August 20, 2004

August so far

Jake and I have been having some good flying. We went up to the Kahiltna a couple nights ago and landed up near the glacier - real nice spot. I'd never been in the Kahiltna river valley before. Looked like several good landing spots. You can't see it in the photo, but there was a good view of McKinley and I think Foraker? It was overcast up the Kahiltna, but we came back over Skwentna and down the Susitna valley and it was clear, calm and beautiful.
Yesterday we went over to Olson Creek on the Beluga and it was full of silvers. The strip was really rough and it was a long walk (I had to carry Jake across 2 sloughs), and I had to scare off a bear with my .44 but no one else was there and it was full of fish. The bear was weird - I've had them come towards me until they realized what I was and they bolt, but this one was just watching us. We heard a lot of splashing getting to the fishing hole, and I suspected it was a bear so we made a lot of noise and went the long way around so we wouldn't come up on it suddenly. We were yelling so it must have heard us, but it just stared at me until I shot twice near it with the .44. Which I've never shot without earplugs before and my ears rang all day. It's a lot louder than my other one - I think because it's magnaported. Anyway, even then he just ambled off, didn't seem really frightened at all or like he'd had the bad human interaction experience I wanted. I was a little tense for the rest of the time (because I wasn't sure I could outrun Jake in hipboots!), but figured I'd never heard of a brown bear sneaking back up on you after you chased it off. It didn't take long anyway to limit out and I took them back down to the strip to clean out in the open.

Today we went over to the Kustatan and it was slow but Jake limited on some really nice ones and a little Dollie Varden. I only hooked and lost one... which I'm hearing about from Mr. superfisherman. There's been a bear around there intimidating the fisherman and taking their fish, so I took my .375, but of course we didn't even see any bears - not even flying back. There were three other planes when I got there - one guy I worked with, and two I knew through my Uncle. Small world. We saw some Beluga whales on the way down, and flew up next to Mt Spurr (volcano) then real low down the Beluga river on the way back - really pretty trip.
A friend just happened to be at the Kustatan and took this shot of us landing....


Sunday, August 15, 2004

Denali sightseeing

A few days ago Jake and I made a trip I've wanted to try for a long
time. A friend from work had a visiting friend so I took them on the
usual Knik Glacier sighteseeing trip, with an 'off airport' landing,
then the 4 of us headed up to Mt McKinley. We climbed to 11K headed
up the Kahiltna Glacier and then traversed along the base to the
Eldridge Glacier, overflying the Ruth Ampitheater. It was a beautiful
CAVU day - no wind and about 55F at altitude. Really nice. The
commercial guys were all commenting to each other how nice it was.

The plane was still climbing really well at 11K and 100 mph at near gross
weight (I'm not saying which side of gross) which is quite an
improvement over my old Cub. I had the Cub up to 10K once, but this
is the highest I've flown so far. It was fun cruising back to
Talkeetna - indicating 180mph most of the way losing the altitude.

The photo is looking at McKinley about 1/2 way up the Kahiltna. I had
the route mapped out for my GPS with a friends waypoints but forgot to
upload it to the GPS, so I wasn't exactly sure I was at all times.
They have a special map of the mountain with reporting points that
you're supposed to use because there's a lot of commercial traffic and
there was a fatal mid-air a few years ago. I wasn't the only one
reporting "I think" before my position reports, and at least I knew my
altitude. The commercial guys seemed to be using 1000 ft separation
whenever they were near anyone else.