Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Flyin' off the handle...

My neighbor Bert's been planning to build a cabin near a remote airstrip in the foothills of the Alaska Range. Occasionally, he'd call and ask for help and I'd spend a little time over at his place or ride down the road with him to help stock pile the building materials. After he finished moving all the materials out to the cabin site by snow machine, he wanted to fly out to there, so asked if I would to go along . While I'd flown in small planes doing resource surveys years ago, it would be the first time out with Bert. He had completely rebuilt his plane, a Cessna 170, several years ago and it's in immaculate condition. It's set up with a ski conversion for winter flying, since the remote airstrip isn't plowed.
The trip over was uneventful and he made a fine landing on the snow covered runway. After a short time looking at his building site, he asked if I wanted to see anything in particular. Maybe a quick tour of the mountains nearby?
That certainly made the return flight interesting. We flew up a nearby creek, over a low divide and then down a river valley through several narrow canyons. Pretty spectacular.
Once out over the flats, he asked if I'd ever flown a plane. When I said I hadn't, he asked if I wanted to try.  He then gave me a quick lesson and let me take the controls. Terrified, well almost, but it was pretty amazing, after years of flying in small planes, I'd finally gotten the handle on how to fly one, even if only for a few minutes. Thanks Bert!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Last dog run?

April started out warm, but the last ten days or so have been about twenty degrees below normal. This has significantly extended the dog running season. Since we're no longer training the dogs for long trips, such as the White Mountains, the runs are shorter and more leisurely now. We stop a lot to switch dogs around, giving nearly everyone a chance to run up front. Even though it still feels cool out, temperatures near freezing can be pretty warm for these fuzzy guys, so they get longer breaks to roll around in the snow and cool off.  But inevitably the warm weather will return, melting the snowpack and ending the springtime dog runs.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Out to the White Mtns. and a new leader?...

When the weather turned bad at the end of March, blowing and drifting  a bunch of new snow, my friend Bill and I canceled our trip to Ramparts.
We decided to head out to the White Mtns. instead. There's a lot more traffic on those trails and the trailhead's a lot closer to town (White Mountains Trip 3/29/09). Everything went well until the second day. The Beaver Creek crossing, as often happens, was covered with overflow (aufeis). Barney and Spuds, normally very reliable (White Mtns. 4/10/10), freaked out and took us on a wild ride, zig zagging  over the ice covered channel. So the next day, when we had to return over that icy crossing, I thought I had it all planned how to cross. Well so much for planning as it went worse than the day before. While untangling the team out on the ice, I realized a leader change was in order, so put Jabba up with Barney. One of the two year olds we got a while back (Newbies 8/6/11), Jabba'd run up front a few times and seemed comfortable there. Well as soon as I got him hooked up front and lined out the team, they took off and went straight across the overflow with no problems. So he stayed up front for the rest of the run, over twenty miles out to the trailhead. I think we've got a new lead dog now.