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What a Way to Fly

Monday, 14 August 2023, Anchorage

This idyll in Alaska has focused on firsts for me, and another couple firsts were on tap. The plane bearing me back to Anchorage was the same 9-seater we'd come out on. This time, though, no other passenger shared the seats. My first-ever private flight!

With clearing skies, I had the co-pilot seat to witness an incredible panorama of Alaskan landscape. As we headed east from Port Alsworth,

we quickly crossed over the shoreline on which I had worshipped nature. There's Little Tommy Island dead ahead!

as well as more islands without names.

On, on, to the end of the lake. Now we gained elevation as we ascended the valley following the chalky-white river carrying rock flour down from the glaciers.

The pilot aimed us true, pointing out a passing waterfall or two.

We rose to views of glaciers hanging high above the valley, cradled by soaring mountains.

The river continued undulating through a wide, green cleft in the range.

Blue skies opened before us.

The peaks gradually squeezed us,

peppered with glaciers crowning their slopes. Up the valley, the pilot approached a pair of lakes nestled above the soaring peaks. Could that be Twin Lakes, where the other four of our Katmai crew had headed for a few days of kayaking?

This park is certainly large enough to support two Heavens.

We crept up to the pass, close to the ground as forested slopes gave way to rocky terrain.

Updrafts from the mountains spiced the flight with turbulence.

Up, up, up. Finally, the chalky river disappeared under a massive river of ice.

Glaciers now dominated the scene

as we continued following that river of ice.

It's time for the pilot to do his magic! Banking the plane over 60°,

he took dead aim at Lake Clark Pass. Once over it, he banked us 60°

in the opposite direction, aligning us with the valley to speed us to Anchorage. We now crossed over a vast pro-glacial lake choked with icebergs that had calved from a new glacier.

We lost elevation quickly as I savored the last views of majestic scenery.

I found us now dropping down another valley, lower, lower, the beauties of nature spent. Finally I could collect my eyeballs that had popped out and were rolling about the cockpit floor.

Absolutely breathtaking, an ultimate scenic flight. I almost hated to see the skyline of Alaska's largest city, knowing it meant the end of my premier Alaskan adventure. On the ground, Ashley awaited me with my stored duffel bag and a ride to my airBNB.

One last time, I would follow her.

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