3,789 miles. As I sit here typing, I am 3,789 miles from home sweet home Embry-Riddle. I’ve found myself in Talkeetna, Alaska for the summer, working as an intern for K2 Aviation, a company that performs flightseeing tours around the Alaska Mountain Range in Denali National Park.
It has now been one week since I packed my bags and, accompanied by my mother, boarded an Alaska Airlines flight from Chicago to Anchorage.
We spent three days in Anchorage before making the 113 mile drive to Talkeetna. On the third day, I had the honor to visit to Lake Hood Seaplane Base and spend time flying a 1944 Grumman Goose, a multi-engine flying boat. It was as incredible as its sounds. With Goose expert Burke Mees in the right seat, we departed one lake for another, doing steep turns and stalls along the way. I could, and probably should, do an entire post about that flight, but for now I’ll simply say that my time in N703 is by far the most interesting entry in my logbook I have to date and will likely hold that title for years to come. I would encourage anyone visiting Anchorage to do an hour long flight with them, or at least take a look at the historical plane. If you are interested, more information can be found at www.goosehangar.com.
The arrival of Thursday meant my first day of work with K2 Aviation. My position for the summer is being a part of the office staff team doing customer service. It means I’ll be doing anything from answering calls and questions of people interested in the flightseeing tours to assisting mountain climbers get all their gear prepared for their attempt of climbing North America’s tallest peak.
Oh yeah, did I mention that Denali, formerly Mount McKinley, is the tallest mountain in North America? It stands at 20,310 feet above sea level and is accessible for only a small margin of the year running from around April to July. As someone who doesn’t claim to be the least bit in shape, I decided to take the easy route of getting to the top and boarded a plane.
Aboard a deHavilland Beaver I experienced the most amazing flight I have ever been a passenger on (most amazing flight overall being the Goose). Seeing the summit of the continent’s tallest peak poking above the clouds, flying between cliff walls thousands of feet high, cruising just hundreds of feet above a 44-mile long glacier, and touching down on the snow bank in the middle of a National Park combined for an experience that still makes my jaw drop when I look back on it.
I don’t pretend to have Alaska figured out yet. I still get confused when I call my friends after my shift for them to groggily answer that it’s 2:00am and it better be important. I still struggle to get in bed when I look out the window at a beautiful sunny day even though the clock says it’s 9:45pm (and it stays brighter later every day!). But what I have figured out is that this is going to be a summer of adventure. Adventure that will take me all over Alaska, on many modes of transportation, and deeper into the wilderness than I truthfully want to go.
While I probably won’t accomplish all the adventure goals I’ve set for myself, I promise to make sure you enjoy reading about the ones I do. So stick around, bookmark this page, and check back often because the Grumman Goose, glacier landing, and Denali summit tour was only week one. We’ve got 12 more to go.