Monday, August 1, 2011

Alaska Range Tour

My Brother Robert had been wanting to go see the Revelation Mountains for some time.  I mentioned that I had wanted to look at the Cathedral Spires, which are fairly near Palmer - in the SW corner of Denali Park.  Somehow I got the two mixed together. I intended to fly over there (about an hour), look around, maybe pop through the Alaska Range to Farewell and then back to Talkeetna for lunch and home.

When I realized that the Revelations were the end of the Alaska Range (a couple hundred miles West of where I thought we were going),  I thought we'd have to do just one or the other.  After a quick look at the map, the internet for a restaurant and a call to make there was $9/G gas available in McGrath, I decided we could do both.

I flew from Palmer to Merrill to pick up Rob, then we flew NW to the Cathedral Spires, through the AK Range, along the Kuskokwim past Farewell and Nikolai to McGrath, then back south along the Big river into the Revelation Mountains, to Lake Clark and back through Lake Clark Pass.  Beautiful the entire way, here's the route:

North through the Susitna valley.

Denali in the distance.

Cathedral Spires coming up.

Spires; check out the finger-like extrusions just right of center.

Coming around the back side of the Spires.

Out of the AK Range, Farewell is just ahead on the left.

Down the Kuskokwim.  Didn't see any boats and just a few cabins.

Skirted Nikolai.


Turn left at Nikolai....

Coming up on McGrath.

I messed up my approach a bit, coming from the other direction I should have landed straight in on the gravel there on my left, but overflew and  went back to land the other way.  It's left traffic so you fly downwind over the paved runway which seemed odd to me. It does keep you out of the approach path, though.

Doesn't look like much, but the Iditarod Trail Cafe was just fine, cute waitress and right across from the plane parking.

Had some concern getting fuel in McGrath.  I had called ahead and asked, but it's the same fuel company in Palmer as in McGrath.  Some young guy on the phone told me "Sure, I'll be here and bring the truck around, just come find me by Forestry".
When we landed I asked some local where the gas was and he said there wasn't any.  I headed towards the Forestry office and couldn't find anyone. I got worried that I was accidentally talking to Palmer, not McGrath because they deliver fuel the same way there - go towards Forestry and find the guy with the truck.

Of course neither of my cell phones worked.  I was headed to the plane to get my Sat phone to call what I thought was the McGrath fuel guy when he showed up (had been at lunch) and everything worked out.  At 9 bucks a gallon.  :-)  And then of course someone calls on the radio and the FSS phones the fuel truck for him - should have tried THAT. :-)

Cute houses right across the street from the river.

Rob in the cemetery.

Dodged some minor squalls out of McGrath, up the Big River.

Up the Revelation Glacier...

Revelation Mountains.

Then back down the glacier and headed South to Lake Clark.

We didn't take any more photos - went back through Lake Clark pass (although it was clear and direct would have worked), then dropped Rob off at Merrill and headed home.

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