Thursday, July 07, 2005

It’s a bird.... it’s superman... no it’s Ed and Frances in an airplane!

Our goal for tonight is Talkeetna. This is a small town on a road just off the main highway. It’s about 140 miles from Denali National Park. Again, we stop at several view points looking for Mt. McKinley — still no luck. Once we are settled into the campground, Ed and I headed over to the campground office to ask questions about boat rides and flight seeing. The woman at the office recommended Talkeetna Aero Services and the McKinley Summit Tour. When she called them, they had room on their 5:00pm flight. Oh my god.... we were going flying! The flight was an amazing experience and this is from the person who was very green and had very wobbly legs when she got out of the airplane after the flight. The pilot was a young woman (we’re guessing mid to late twenties) who seemed very competent and appeared to really enjoy flying. Ed happily sat in the co-pilot seat and I sat behind the pilot and the remaining 5 passengers sat in the seats behind me. We flew from Talkeetna airport towards Mt. McKinley gaining altitude steadily until we reached 20,000 feet and were at the height of the summit (we had to put oxygen masks on at 14,000 feet). We circled the mountain a couple of times, had a look at high base camp (used by the mountain climbers) at around 18,000 feet and slowly started to descend. It was an incredible feeling to be flying between the mountains looking at the mountainsides and the glaciers. At one point it felt like the plane was on a stick and was being moved slowly around the mountain. One of the glaciers is 32 miles deep and the top of the glacier is covered in rocks and silt scrapped from the mountainside as the glacier moves. We also flew the base of the glacier where the melting water spurts up starting a glacial river. Before Ed and I went on our flight we drove out to the airport and back to the campground. While we were driving we missed an earthquake. Colin and Margaret were in their trailer when the quake “hit”.... Colin ran out of the trailer to yell at whoever hit his truck and pushed it into the trailer. Of course no one had hit the truck. Later, I heard that the earthquake was 4 on the Richter scale and the epicenter was about 17 miles away. Oh, Colin and Margaret did laundry while Ed and I went flying.

The memorial to Alaskan veterans

OK, you try taking photos, while wearing a headset, oxygen mask and sunglasses!

Mt McKinley showing above the clouds

another view of Mt. McKinley

Other mountains

The Ruth Glacier

Time to return to earth

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