Saturday, May 30, 2009

Remote and Abandoned in the Wood River Valley

Just 30 roadless miles east of the Parks Highway lies an abandoned lodge that once flourished with fly-in tourists and vacationers. Martin talked about flying me out this way for months now.. so we finally did it with my sister Patty in stow! The weather was looking a little sketchy for flying, since winds were fairly high through the range, but Martin having flown for the majority of his life, was not concerned. It was up to us whether our stomachs could make it, and both Patty's and mine could. (barely.) We got quite the view of moose from above, a rollercoaster-like flight (updrafts and the like), and a random little adventure.
Where's the moose? Do you see them? We saw at least 15.... they lost their novelty after a short time. :)
I was pretty pumped by the time we got into the mountains. The flight down into the mountains was a lot of flatness through the Tanana Flats (imagine that.)
Patty loves more than anyone I know, to do jumping pictures. Though I can't take the credit for the idea, I'm glad that it makes a lot of extra smiles looking back at the pictures.
We got to the formerly known as Alaska Wilderness Lodge and peeked around a little. In this photo Patty took below, I was talking about how I'd like to move into this sunroom. The view's a little bit better than my cabin. ;)After exploring the abandoned lodge and cabins area, playing a round of ping pong on a dusty table, and taking some jumping pictures, we hiked down to a nearby lake. At the lake, we found a canoe sitting there.......moments later, my joking comment about taking the canoe out for a spin turned into reality (this is how most random things unintentionally start). Sitting in the middle of the lake, we scanned for bears and wolves, but none to be seen. There were tracks around but no wildlife. That is ok - I can do without bear encounters. I got over wanting to see them after the first summer I was up here after finding some of the best bike trails along salmon running streams. That is another big gold star on why I love winter.. the bears are sleeping.
A photo with the Piper Martin took us up in.Martin caught Patty saying earlier how she always wanted to be a pilot growing up, and he let her steer. Personally, I was partially frightened of my sister flying our airplane, but she did a fantastic job keeping us level.
Our little adventure could not last forever as we had to attend to things back in town, but had what I think was one of the most fun trips I've done in recent times. It was not "epic" by any means, it wasn't tens of miles of hiking or biking and pushing the limits, but it was really random and fun and getting to show my sister this part of Alaska is something that made the trip one of my favorites. There is something about getting out in remote land that can't be explained in words, and I know how lucky I am to experience it. The gross part is, the more of it you see, the more you want it. I haven't figured out if that is a good thing or a bad thing. But sharing it man, that is the really cool part.
Back home in the 'Banks.


Al said...

I'm so jealous!!! I'm glad you and Patty had such a good time :)

DustyLester Ross said...

My adopted Dad built this lodge.I grew up there from the age of 5 till 14. My adopted parents divorced when I was 15,then I lived in Fairbanks. I saw firsthand how the entire lodge and surrounding cabins and even the airstrip was built from the ground up. My adopted dad died in one of his planes in the early nineties. Unfortunately the lodge is in disarray. It's for sale for a million.