The Covid Wild Alaska adventure – Denali Air

I received the first voice mail while in Seward……”Denali Air here….break in the weather…if you are around….good time now…”, but I was kayaking and couldn’t return the call.

The next morning as I was a couple of hours into my journey towards Denali I receive another voicemail from Denali Air….but I’m stuck in a torrential rainstorm. At this point I have foregone any chance of being able to hook up with Denali Air, as the weather just isn’t on my side.

I find that Denali Air Adventures is only a couple hundred feet from the Denali cabins (where I’ll be resting my head for the night). The dark clouds are breaking in the quiet afternoon, and I decide to just pop in to see about a slim chance of being able to catch a flight.

The place is completely empty. I shout “Hello?” and listen for a response. Soon a gentleman appears from the shop out back with a smile on his face and a gentleness to his mannerisms. After I let him know who I am, he gets excited and tells me that a couple from Maryland also want to go, so he places a call to see if he can make this tour of three happen. I’m thrilled to give him the business in this year of Covid.

He leaves to go pick up the couple from a surrounding hotel while I wait around the small airstrip by myself. The dark clouds continue to dissipate. They soon return and just like that we board the small puddle jumper plane and start down the dirt runway.

“I’ll try to find us some smooth air, but be prepared for some chop…..”. I consider myself fairly well versed in air travel, but this was the first time I seriously thought I might have to use the barf bag. I look other at the couple and see the same thoughts are crossing their minds, as they look back at me with ash white faces.

We do find smoother air eventually though, and the sun breaks free to illuminate the National Park below. Nothing like a global pandemic to give one the feeling of having all six million acres to yourself.

Glacial rivers and epic valleys carved from an artist’s tool of a millennia ago appear before us. Small white dots on a mountainside are Rocky Mountain sheep. The largest mountain in North America is unfolding before us.

We hear about different climber’s that have taken on trying to reach the Denali summit as we circle the mighty mountain. You can see the route’s one can take, and I try to imagine myself on that path.

The mountain humbles me in a way that all great and magnificent creations do. I feel simultaneously small and invincible.

Before I know it, we are descending. I feel fortunate enough to have been shown the work of a Great Creator from another World, as if the veil of secrets about our little planet was revealed to me for a split second before being hidden again in the shadows of mystery.

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Wench, bring my ale, what say you?

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