A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

Alaska Day 13: Knik & Talkeetna

August 10, 2022
Tyson Sawyer

This is the fourth post from the 2022 Alaska Flying Trip.

Knik River

Today, my father flew home. It finally stopped raining so Isaac, Emilie and I headed out for some flying. The previous evening I had received a call from Denny inviting us to join him on a tour of the Knik River. This was an invitation we could not refuse.

Over at Birchwood, we found blue skies but with some patchy fog that came in with the cool tidal waters. We joined up with Denny in his Super Cub and another pilot in a Cessna 170 and took off to the north as the more substantial fog rolled in over the runway from the south.

Gravel bars on the Knik River

Our first stop was the “Mid-channel Strip”, also known as the Practice Strip. This is one of the longer and easier places to land. I suspect that Denny wanted to check our flying abilities before going further. Emilie was also glad to start at an easy strip since her recent flying had been in gliders.

Next we followed the C-170 for a scenic tour that included an ice cave that had formed at the base of a glacier.

In 1952 a C-124 Globemaster crashed into a mountain above Colony Glacier. Due to weather, the wreckage and remains were never recovered. In 2012 a Alaska National Guard training mission spotted the remains. Recovery of those remains is an on going mission.

After the tour, Emilie followed the C-170 into Mud Strip where Denny was waiting.

We wanted to do the short hike to see Inner Lake George and the Colony Glacier from the ground but Denny and his friends had their own schedule, so we parted ways.

After a hike to see Inner Lake George and Colony Glacier, we stopped at Picnic Table Strip. We had intended to do a little hiking here and also make a stop at Grasshopper Strip, but the clock suggested that we needed to keep moving so that we would make it to the McCarthy area before the weather there turned bad.

On the way back down the Knik River, we happened to fly over our neighbors from NH. By chance, they were on an ATV tour of the Knik on the same day we were touring by airplane. We didn’t know they were there, but they snapped a tiny, fuzzy picture of us as we flew over.

We worked our way around the congested Palmer airspace, made fuel stop at Willow (PAUO) and then headed for a view of Denali and a stop in Talkeetna. This was one of those rare days where not only was the summit of Denali visible, there wasn’t a cloud in the blue sky.

The Village Strip (AK44) provides convenient access to downtown Talkeetna.

In Talkeetna we found lunch and the famous Fireweed ice cream at Shirley’s Northern Lights Gourmet Ice Cream.

Next we flew north of the Talkeetna Mountains along the Susitna River on our way to Gulkana. In Gulkana we fueled up and left a 30 lb box of food we didn’t yet need with our new friends at Copper Valley Air Service.

One of the Copper Valley employees had recently flown herself to a couple of the strips we were considering. She gave us useful advice on cabins and hiking opportunities. We were considering both May Creek (MYK) and Peavine (uncharted, no identifier). Because of the lowering weather, we chose May Creek which was closer and less far into the mountains.

Wrangell Mountains

During our flight down the Copper River, the weather and visibility remained good. Emilie got distracted by trying to find lift under a cloud street. The clouds filled in over the afternoon, but before the peaks were completely hidden, we found a pass with views up to sunny ice fields. By the time we reached May Creek, it turned overcast with some lower layers.

Emilie was in short field mode. The runway at May Creek slopes up a fair bit and the runway is quite long. After landing, she realized that she had a long, uphill taxi to the end where the cabins were located.

Bearhawk parked at May Creek

All Day 18 Photos