After plunging through the large rapids and reeling in huge fish for three days, I was excited to introduce another encounter in wild Alaska. We took a floatplane to a remote lodge near Denali National Park for the remaining two nights of the trip. The lodge, five miles south of the park, is set in one of the most picturesque settings Alaska has to offer. Towering
mountain peaks jut up from glacier blue lake far away from any road or civilization.
The lodge sits at the south end of the lake with views of the tallest peaks in
Alaska. Even in the middle of summer these mountain peaks are snow covered and
hold the allure of untamed frontier. We arrived at the lodge via floatplane and were
immediately met with refreshments and a hot shower! Oh it felt good. Our night
ended with leisurely sipping wine and reminiscing about our river conquest.
Over a hearty breakfast the next morning, I gave the Charger crew two options for
the day’s adventure. First, boat the lake and fish for lake trout or tackle one of the
daunting peaks that stands guard over at the north end of the lake. Nick was the first one to
chime in by saying, “I didn’t come here to relax, I want to take on that mountain!” I
laughed inside at Nicks go get ’em attitude. Once he threw that challenge out, the
rest of the crew was bound by the venture.
“That mountain doesn’t have a chance,” I heard one of them boldly announce as we stepped outside. Another shot back a witty dare and the smack talk began. The climb looked attainable from the lodge , but I knew as we boated toward the massive giants that the talking would turn to silence.
of intense energy...not this.” Philip yelled from ahead some encouragement and the
train of giants eked upward. The alder trees choked our way for the first 1000 feet
slowing our speed and added another challenge. Up and over, under and through
we made our way above tree line and stopped for a much needed breather. “WOW,
look at that view!” Clary exclaimed, “I didn’t even notice how beautiful it was as we
The break was brief. Too brief. Before I knew, it Billy Volek was rallying the troops
for the final push. Upward we trudged, sidestepping through a mixture of spongy,
alpine tundra and large, boulder outcroppings. The end was in sight.
A fresh mountain stream lay ahead, and I lured the men onward by promising them
it was the purest water on earth! “If there is no stream up here I am going to kill
someone,” I heard one of them threaten from the line. “Man I sure hope that stream
is still running,” I thought to myself.
The final push led us to the stream’s source and arguably one of the most
picturesque views of the Alaska Range. The water quenched our thirst and the
views satisfied our hard work! Clary and Rivers both plunged their heads into
the 40-degree water and we all laughed as they shuttered from the brain freeze. Our
stay on the top was short lived. We soaked up the views, ate our lunch and headed
back down. We had to be back by 4pm for a special evening I had planned.
Without a clue of what was in store for them, the Charger crew loaded into
a floatplane and we flew northwest over Denali National Park towards our
secret destination. We buzzed over Kahiltna Glacier and the mighty Ruth
Glacier. Westward we circled the grandfather of them all, Mount McKinley. Our
eyes were glued out the window as we admired the tallest point on our great
continent. Descending eastward we began to aim towards a small obscure glacial
lake encompassed by glaciers and serrated mountain peaks.
As our plane broke the glassy water the guys began to realize what the evening
entailed. Set up before the mighty, ancient glacier was a table skirted with a white
tablecloth, adorned with fresh flowers and lined with wine glasses. Our cooks were
just finishing the filet mignon and king crab as the men placed themselves at the
table. “I knew something was up.” Philip said, “I knew we weren’t just on a flight
We ate like kings and roaring laughter filled the glacial valley as they reminisced
on the past week of adventure. “That mountain killed me today,” I heard before the
laughter continued. What a week it had been. The trip had been the perfect mix
of conquering new adventures and time to be refreshed. They came to Alaska as
big city, football stars and left as fly-fishing, mountain men. Time in the untamed
wilderness bonded them as friends who will always remember conquering their slice Alaska.
I was proud of them all and consider it one of the best trips Alaskan Ventures has had
the privilege to lead.
Alaskan Ventures specializes in remote Adventures throughout the state of Alaska. Backpacking, glacier tours, heli-adventures, glacial dinners, photography, fly fishing and "out of the box" tours are who we are and what we do! Check us out at: www.AlaskanVentures.com