July 7, 2014
After raining for most of the night, the morning dawned clear and appeared that the sun was trying to shine. At 7:45 we made a call to Talkeetna Air to inquire about the flight schedule for the day. They confirmed that they would be flying today and for us to come on for an 8:30 flight!
Thank goodness we were staying just across the street from the
office and airport. We checked in, confirmed our flight plan, which was a one hour tour to fly the south face of Mt. McKinley and then land on one of the lower glaciers.
Since we were going to land on the glacier, they gave us these
beautiful boots to wear. While we were waiting, the girls in the office called for Bob. They told him they were choosing the four of us for an upgrade...free of charge! So, now, our flight plan included a 2 hour tour that would take us to over 20,000 feet allowing us to experience the dramatic view that only climbers see while flying over the summits of McKinley. And, the glacier landing! We aren't sure how or why we were the lucky ones...maybe they knew it was Bob's birthday today!
By the time, Trent,
our pilot, gave us our flight safety instructions, and showed us how to use the oxygen masks that would be required once we reached the high elevation, our excitement was
Seatbelts fastened, headsets on, we were ready for
We flew up, out, and
over Talkeetna and the Susitna Valley towards the
The Alaskan Range.
We kept climbing and soon were instructed to
put on our oxygen masks.
And, at around 18,000 feet, we were amazed at the beauty
we saw out the window of the plane.
There are no words to explain
the majesty of the mountains. We were able to see
Mt. Foraker at 17,400 ft. and Mt. Hunter at 14,575 ft.
Then it was on to the top of Mt. McKinley, however, today due to the clouds, we saw all but about 1,500 feet
at the top. Even thought there was no summit sighting today,
we did get a good view of the
Wickersham Wall, the 14,000 north face of McKinley, which is one of the largest walls in the world.
Trent flew around for a little while longer trying to give the
clouds a change to clear, but they just kept hanging in. What we saw was still amazing!
When he determined that the clouds were just not going to cooperate, we descended down and through the
gorge, making our
landing on the Ruth Glacier.
What a beautiful
view. And, to think we are standing
on glacier ice that is 4,000 feet deep and 3 miles wide!
All too soon, it was time for us to board the plane...but, not before
a snowball came my way...I took it for you Mary!
Once we were off the
glacier, it didn't take us long to leave the
mountains behind us landing
safely back at the airport.
Thanks Trent and Talkeetna Air for a great flight!
We headed into town for a yummy birthday breakfast at the
Wildflower Cafe. Afterwards, we made a stop by the
Ranger Station in town so the
birthday boy, turned 62, could get his senior National Parks Pass!
We then made one of our now famous 15 minute decisions and took a drive out to the
Talkeetna Lodge, knowing that they advertised a view of Mt. McKinley from their back deck. The sun was now shinning bright and just what if...
we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the summit that we missed this morning!
What an awesome day