Thursday, June 12, 2008

Outhouse With A Million Dollar View

Alaska is known for its sheer size, you have to pull out all the superlatives to desribe what many view as nature on steroids. A beautiful rugged land with many personalities.

We found our way to Talkeetna, a charming town several hours outside of Anchorage full of charm and character.
One of the draws in this small town is the Moose Dropping Festival held in the month of July. Now--all you animal activists do not need to get alarmed by this festivity--for its not Moose they drop--but Moose Poop which resemble Milk Duds that fell out of their box.
They number and shellack about a thousand of these lil' turds. Tickets are up for sale at your shot in the Raffle. They scoop the poop up in a net and is hauled up in the air and dropped on a target. Prizes are for both closest and furthest away.
If you crapped out and lost, dont fret, you can still stop by one of the quaint shops and purchase your very own Moose Poop earrings, or perhaps a hat for the man in your life.
On to Talkeetna airport. It was a lovely afternoon--Mark and I were eagerly awaiting our turn to board our charter flight with Talkeetna Air.
We were booked on the Grand Denali tour and added a glacier landing cuz we were trying to squeeze as much adventure outta Alaska before returning to the Lower 48. Most sightseeing tours involving small planes with skis are usually quite expensive. But I tell you this today that flying around Mt. McKinley, or "Denali" as the locals call it is worth every single dollar!!!

The dramatic views are to die for!! Pictures and words fail to portray the immense beauty of the magnificent Alaskan Range containing over 6 million acres of tunda,wildlife,glaciers and mountains.

Soaring between the peaks of Mt. Foraker, Mt. Hunter, and the "Big One" at 20,320ft. Hovering around the rivers of the icy glaciers as they twist and turn around the granite spires, viewing the numerous icefalls.

As we navigated our way around Kahitna glacier we got to see the Kahitna base camp where climbers begin their ascent of McKinley.
Our plane began its descent, flying low over the 40 mile long Ruth Glacier which flows through the mile deep Great Gorge at the base of Mt.McKinley. Its ice is almost 4000ft thick--which makes it deeper than the Grand Canyon. We see hundreds, maybe thousands of crevasses and lots of sky blue pools of melted glacier ice.

Soon our 5 seater plane glided on the surface of this massive glacier on a nature-made runway in a nook in the mountain.

click on this pic for a closer view of the barely visible runway. It appears as a faint U in the nook of that mountain. 2 planes appear as small dots
This was called the Don Sheldon Ampitheatre named after the famous bush pilot. Setting foot outside the plane i nearly fell to my knees.

I can honestly say that it definitely was one of the most breathtaking and humbling experiences of my life.

I felt like a grain of sand on a vast desert. So tiny and insignifcant standing among the surrounding mountains such as Moose's Tooth, Rooster Comb, Mt. Dickey, and the Shield.
As I look around, something catches the corner of my eye, I glance over and something i wasnt expecting. A small brownish wood building on top of a rock outcropping. What the heck is that. Turns out to be an outhouse of all things! And hidden a little further past the outhouse just out of view except for the metal chimney poking out was a small rustic cabin. This is the famous Mountain House I've heard about but never paid no mind as to where exactly it was.

Click picture for a closer view of the Outhouse & Cabin

And it WAS in the middle of nowhere! Literally. To get here obviously, was by bush plane. Our pilot told us that you can rent the cabin for about $130 a night. Its small, holds about 4 people and you must have all your gear flown in including firewood. Sometimes you have to book it several years in advance. You are required to bring more provisions than your actual stay--in the event you get "weathered" in, the planes cant come pick you up. As far as the outhouse goes---it truly has a million dollar view. Can't think of a more beautiful panorama while your taking a crap.
This truly was an experience of a lifetime that I would recommend that everyone should make an effort to see.
A future trip in the making---Mark and I plan to come back one day and stay over in the Mountain House. Check out more info on the Don Sheldon Mountain House by clicking on my favorite links, its got some pretty good shots of the interior

1 comment: