Sunday, September 11, 2016

Denali


Yesterday I had the flight of a lifetime. Stan Steck is a pilot who lives in Anchorage, Alaska, where I'm teaching a 5-day painting workshop. Retired after flying many years for the National Park Service and now a pilot with K2 Aviation, he has his own single engine airplane, called a Maule. Stan offered to take me for a flight to see Denali (formerly called Mt. McKinley). The day was cloudless with brilliant sunshine and no wind. A perfect day for flying.



We drove over the marshland, lakes and tundra which cover the 250 miles of flatland between Anchorage and Denali. Rising to 20, 322 feet, Denali is the tallest mountain in North America. Stan ferries hundreds of rock climbers each year up to a base camp on Denali as well as offering flights to sightseers like me.

I was fairly nervous setting out, with the idea that we might circle this enormous mountain and land on a glacier!

The trip was beyond my wildest imaginings. We flew up glaciers and through what seemed impossibly narrow mountain passes.




We saw a thick glacier where ski planes had left their marks while delivering rock climbers to start their journeys. And we flew into all the nooks and crannies Stan knows intimately, while he reeled off the names of the peaks and passes and glaciers as we passed around and over them.  Climbing up to 12000 feet we crossed over a glacier, still 8000 ft below the top of Denali, to see the mountains that drop suddenly into a valley on the other side.







Two times this year, I've been awe-struck at the magnificence of this world. The first was seeing the configurations of the basalt columns on the far side of the Cape on Skagafjordur, where the Baer Art Center is located. Now this.

Each time, I heard Handel's Hallelujah Chorus in my mind.

















5 comments:

  1. wow janice. You have been allowing in so much awesomeness.
    You must be so excited about the paintings that will come forth over the next few months. xo

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    1. Allowing in so much awesomeness...hey I like that!

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  2. Awesome Janice. You're very lucky. Since you've seen the mountain intimately, can I suggest this "disaster" book, which I read last year (if you're into this type of story): https://www.amazon.ca/Denalis-Howl-Deadliest-Climbing-Disaster/dp/0525954066

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    1. Sort of glad that I didn't hear of this before my flight Art!

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