Google Real Alaskan Adventures in the Wild of Alaska

A Wing and A Prayer


WinganaPrayer is an old Bush Pilot term. It's not found in any of Webster's Dictionary versions. In this photo we gotta go east (left) and the pass looks like it might be closed-in around the far corner and there's no turning back and no place to land(we are on floats). We are cruising along about 800'. WE need that much time to properly panic if something sputters!

Times like this you make you dig deep, pucker up a little in various places and hope for the best. THAT'S Winganaprayer at its finest! Did I mention how much fuel we were burning? Did I mention headwinds? These thoughts and many more go through your head as you fly in this country. The only weather reports you get are from other pilots that recently went through these passes and that can all change in a flash! Mountain flying and flying in Alaska are true tests of one's flying skills and for those that do not develop them and continually hone them- well, lets just say they don't last too long here.

That ole Winganaprayer has worked for me for years.

Somebody call Webster, the word WinganaPrayer needs to be there!

            Bush Pilots are not often found in Church BUT pray more than most of You!

Who's Watching Who?

When I came across these Grizzly tracks on a recent hunt on the Bering River I could not help but wonder, "Am I looking at where he was or is he looking at where I am?"

I made tracks to Alaska 30 years ago to escape the Lower 48. To run from pre-conceived notions as to what my life should be and how I should live it. It was strange to me that people picture "what to do with my life" as if it's some plateau you reach and you can stop worrying about it after that. BULLBUTTER!

I think everyone goes through this and I think it has to do with how poorly our education system is structured to ensure children know themselves, their strengths, weaknesses, and Passions. In an attempt to prepare everyone for the "real world", a disconnect forms because they get us ready for what the work force and American government needs from us and not what WE need from LIFE!

I escaped to Alaska to live a life of adventure and after 30 years here, many of those spent as a professional hunting guide, I truly found my "brass ring". I might add, that it took brass balls to do it!

It's now 35 years later, boy do I have some stories to tell. These are stories you won't find in my book, you can read those separately. I want to use this forum to inspire people to be themselves and pursue their dreams. I want to answer questions about Alaska you won't find answers to in the tourists pamphlets.

ALASKAN Hunting, Fishing, Bush life, Sea Life, Survival skills, Bush flying, Whitewater Rafting, Flora, Fauna, Wildlife, Minerals, politics/Outhouses and more are all interesting subject matter that will be discussed. (the outhouse and politics belong as far from the cabin as a cold, dark, freezing night permits!) The gap between smart ass and visionary has narrowed. It takes a certain amount of colorful brevity to get your point across these days. I have no problem doing that!

Your destiny is your duty to yourself!

Two Degrees Above Dead

Bears hibernate and remain in a state about 2 degrees above dead!

These two young Grizzly are no doubt a little late getting to the den this past year but the photo illustrates why they need to!

They head into their dens for months at a time, then they come out in the spring looking a whole lot thinner and hungry for sure! 
They do this because of the scarcity of food all winter. In Alaska our snows are deep and last for many months. The ONLY way they survive is hibernating. Look at all the money we could save on food and diet loss programs if we could do this! We are pretty sure this is true by studying smaller mammals that hibernate because waking sleeping bears to study this is not a good idea!

They do wake occasionally to move around but quickly head back into a deep sleep.

During hibernation, Bears reduce their body temperature to a point that approaches or even falls below the freezing point of water. (Salty body fluids have lower freezing thresholds that keep tissues from freezing) Overall metabolism drops to about 98% — just 2 degrees above dead.

Runways Are For Sissies...

Asphalt runways are not for the Faint-Hearted! 

This is a photo of the Chilikadrotna River in western Alaska. It is designated as one of Alaska's Wild and Scenic rivers and flows out of Twin Lakes.

I see two places I can get the Super Cub down in this photo. (the Cub is on wheels not floats)Wind direction being critical of course. Can you spot them?

No Small Encounter

No Small Encounter

The vehicle pictured here is a Dodge Durango no small SUV by any means. This photo gives you a better idea of the damaged/deaths that can occur here in Alaska in the winter when vehicles collide with our Moose. Winters are the worst as the Moose are down from the mountains where deep snow has accumulated and browse is much easier to find. This also puts them on a collision course with our vehicles.

About 600 are killed on Alaska's roads each year and the number killed by the railroad generally doubles that! Needless to say most of the vehicles are totaled...

Some Alaska Lakes Explode!

Alaska-Some of Our Lakes Explode!

In this photo we are flying out of the small coastal community of Cordova. Cordova is a beautiful fishing community that sits east of Valdez and ESE of Anchorage about 150 air miles. It's best to get to Cordova by one of our ferries the State operates. You can load your pickup, drive on the ferry with your truck and gear then head upstairs for a beer during the 4 hour ride(maybe 6, it depends on the ocean-not always the way to go for those that are apt to get seasick).

The gravel road you see out the airplane window(DeHaviland Beaver) is the end of the line.  All our gear is headed to the Bering River about another 100 miles to the east. This is some of the most demanding and "mean" country  in Alaska, second only to my adventures on the Alaska Peninsula. We'll be landing on Kushtaka Lake. The early natives gave this Lake its name- it means devil's lake. That was their early take on it anyway. It would explode they said! 

Truth be told, in the winter this land and all it's Lakes freeze up. When you fly over these Lakes they are covered with snow and are generally considered big flat spots, great place to land on ski's if needed. I made a flight over this Lake one winter and on the way out saw Kushtaka all covered with snow and frozen.

We went on without thinking any more of it. 

When we flew back over Kushtaka several days later it was wide open with chunks of ice in it everywhere.  You could see the dark blue water???

As time went by and I did a little research I came to understand what happened that day and why the natives called it a devil's lake. In this photo background you can see the southern tip of the Wrangell Mt's. and Copper River lies just out of sight here. Point being, this is copper and coal country. Coal beds produce methane gas and when it is released in a lake bed and the winter ice freezes over the top, something is eventually going to give- "It Explodes"

There are so many unique things about Alaska... been here 35 years and expect to discover more!

Lady Alaska!

Lady Alaska, She's Deadly Beautiful!

In Alaska, when you fly out to hunt or fish you land and unload the plane. After you unload everything and the plane leaves, you realize you are out in the middle of nowhere and ALONE. Better not forget anything! At the same time you can't take everything as there is only so much room in the bush plane. Careful planning, when in the Alaskan Bush, can mean the difference between life or death.

Cold weather, freezing rain, raging or flooding rivers, mountain slides, mad Moose or worse, a Grizzly/Brown bear can all play havoc on your expedition. Granted, you can't "plan"or "pack" to ward off a bear, but knowing them and understanding their body language can help. More about that in another post.

In the photo below you will see the result of flying in a Zodiac raft which had no top. During this trip is rained, and rained, and rained!! So I made one! I used Alder poles(only thing I know that Alders are good for, except smoking Salmon) and a tarp I had brought. I knew it might be necessary but the mfg. poles for the roof of the Zodiac and its small tarp took up valuable space and weighed more than my small tarp. I knew I would be able to make a top if I needed to.

Most folks don't realize how difficult it is to hunt Alaska. We don't have roads to good hunting areas. In fact, we only have three main highways in the entire State of Alaska. We don't have feed plots, tree stands and all those aids that are used by most Lower 48 sportsmen. If you want to get to the best hunting and fishing here, you must fly out to it, along with your gear and food.

I am sometimes envious of the ease by which Lower 48 hunters go about their hunting and fishing. But I know this wild and vast land has had far more adventure to offer as a result its hardships. The fact that you could get hurt out there and no one could help, makes for some hair-raising thoughts alone! What would you do?

Many of my hair-raising adventures were outlined in my first book. Many more will come in my next book and I will post some more of them from time to time here.

Alaska is a grand, beautiful and deadly place...