The vastness of Alaska is practically impossible to grasp, even when it’s right in front of you. One way to describe it is to say that the drive from Anchorage back around to Anchorage via Denali, Fairbanks, and Tok is 1,300 miles. (I’ve done it a couple of times. It’s vaguely equivalent to driving from Denver to Detroit.) Yet that circle looks downright insignificant when superimposed on a map of the entire state. Alaska is just...immense, no matter where you are: on the rivers, in the mountains, or in the interior. No wonder the place enjoys such a mystical, far-away reputation.
In June and July 2017, I spent another month of my life in that great state, doing a reprise of earlier trips I took with my cousin, Mike. With my travel buddy, Margaret, we drove those 1,300 miles, and then we spent 16 happy (if cold) days crossing in and out of Alaska and British Columbia along the Alsek River. On several occasions, I had the happy opportunity of witnessing the land slipping under the wings of an airplane. This blog is dedicated to those varied and artful aerial views. Enjoy.
The first batch of photos is from the flight between Anchorage and Juneau, along the southeastern coast overlooking the mountains, icefields and glacial rivers of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Glacier Bay National Park.
The second batch is from our flightseeing ride from Wonder Lake, 92 miles in the backcountry of Denali Park out to the Parks Highway near the town of Denali. (Our pilot grew up in...Grand Rapids, Michigan, very near where I live!) These photos show some of the terrain of the interior as well as the western view of the Denali massif. Although the mountain itself was mostly withdrawn behind a curtain of clouds, we could sense the enormity of it all (plus, we had enjoyed wonderful views of Denali earlier that day).
Our flight took us over the Muldrow Glacier, which is one of the less-common climbing routes for mountaineers on the big mountain (and the one favored by NOLS, the wilderness education school whose history I was honored to write in 2016).
No matter where you go in the state, Alaska demands a sense of wonder and appreciation for All Things Wild. It is one of my favorite places.