Glacial Adventure

In Anchorage, getting ready to fly

On my first trip to Alaska to visit my son I fell in love with the state he chose to make his home as an adult. I’m sure several reasons were involved but first and foremost was the fact that he loved the state as much as he loved the state where he was born. Second reason was the spectacular scenery. And on that trip I got a chance to see many scenes and sights that awed me. That awe grew with each visit I made and the special opportunities I got to see sights and places not all visitors might one.

Many of those memories and photos taken on the trips helped me create the Alaskan settings for my book Fireweed which you got a glimpse of in my last post.

Sure, there’s a highway but, flying is faster.

But one special experience is still one I treasure. What might it be you ask?

My first plane ride with my son as pilot. And what a ride we had. Parts of it reminded me of the scene in the first Star Wars movie—now Episode 4—when Luke Skywalker and his group of X-wing fighters drop down into the jagged metal maze in and incredible air duel with the Evil Empire’s aircraft. Since my youngest son—16 years younger than my Alaskan son—watched it all the time, I was quite familiar with the scene. Well, on a portion of that flight I thought I was in something similar though no aerial battle was going on.

How could that be?

Approaching Knick Glacier. Impressive…

Because my son squawked a question over the headphones asked as we approached the Knick Glacier about 50 miles east of Anchorage. It’s located at the northern end of the Chugach Mountain Range. The glacier is quite large and was one of the first I’d seen from the air on this trip.

What was his question? Well, he asked if I wanted and adventure and did I trust him?

Really…what answer could I give. Yes I wanted an adventure and of course I trusted him. Alaskan glaciers are monstrous, imposing and to be respected. This flight was my first up close and personal experience with one. And we got very close. We flew up to it, low over it, followed it up into the mountains and through one of the passes the glacier has formed. My son told me about and showed me the crevasses which can be very dangerous if one falls into them.

Heading into the crevasse.

Above one which was quite wide and deep with glacial melt rippling down the mountain into the glacial streams of the valley below, my son dropped the plane into the crevasse. Down we went deeper into the depths of the ice. I felt the chill, saw the glacial blue striations of the ice so compacted by time it turned color, other striations of black or dark gray from the bits of eroded rock etched away from the mountains by the ice.

When the crevasse narrowed so the wing tips of his small plane nearly touched, he took the plane upward and we flew until we went through the pass the glacial created.

See the blue tint? Sure hope we don’t meet another plane coming toward us.

Then down the other side where we saw herds of mountain goats some climbing down the steep rocky mountain side to graze and others heading upward to safety after filling their tummies.

That trip through the crevasse was my Star Wars experience. I’ll never have another glacier sighting like that one but it’s one I’ll always remember and who knows, maybe someday I’ll find a reason to use parts of it in a scene in a book.

Out of the crevasse above the glacier.

See what happens when I have to go through photos looking for something specific? I found something entirely different and got a chance to remember an awesome adventure with my oldest son.

Above the glacier and into the high pass

Mountain goats feeding

More goats

Heading back to Anchorage

See you next week.

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24 Comments on “Glacial Adventure”

  1. Sandy Says:

    Oh my, what an experience you had, Casey. Wonderful pictures and memories, too. I would’ve been scared to death.

  2. Nancy Kaye Says:

    Love the pictures and the story. That took guts!

  3. Sandy,

    Wasn’t afraid at all because I trusted my son’s skills as a pilot. That adventure was a real turning point in our mother-son connection.

  4. Nancy,

    The photos weren’t the best as I was taking from from the plane. I really would have liked to open the window but that wasn’t possible. No guts, no glory, no trusting in son. Wasn’t happening.

  5. Absolutely amazing. What a wonderful memory and so cool you caught it on film.

  6. Wow, Casey, what an adventure. I’m sure it made your son feel good that you trusted him enough to fly through that crevasse in the glacier. I won’t fly in small planes and won’t go anywhere that cold, so you are my “hero”.

  7. Edie Ramer Says:

    How awesome! I felt thrilled just reading this and looking at the pictures. What an adventure to remember. And all the better because your son was the pilot.

  8. First, love the new background for your site.

    Second, ooh, I’m jealous! I want to go to Alaska. Those pictures are both beautiful and fascinating. 🙂

  9. Edie,

    So glad you enjoyed my experience though my photos didn’t do it justice and that trip through the crevasse was thrilling, scary, and absolutely hands down the most adventurous experience I’ve ever had. And to do it with my first born? Priceless…

  10. Lorna,

    The background came from a photo of a sunrise I took a few weeks ago and I thought the colors were stunning and autumnal. And Alaska is both majestic and beautiful, yet dangerous if one isn’t very careful.

  11. Stacey,

    I took so many photos I found it difficult to choose which to use for this post. Glad you enjoyed them and of course, now I wish I could get up there again soon.

    Hope your presentation/program went well on Saturday.

  12. Gorgeous pictures, Casey, and what a breathtaking experience! I’m afraid of heights, so I could never do it…LOL

  13. Thanks, Casey! For all her nerves, Donna did great, Neither of us tripped over too many words, we didn’t lose any of our thoughts in mid-sentence, and we even sold a couple books afterward. It seemed like everyone enjoyed it and got a lot of information, so I consider it a success.

  14. Anne Parent Says:

    What beautiful photos. I am the daughter of a pilot and I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as these photos taken from the plane your son was flying. What a memory!

  15. Such a beautiful moment with your son, Casey. Our novel The Perfect Seven takes place in Alaska and we’ve always wanted to visit the state, but have never had the means. We’ll just live vicariously through your post. LOL 🙂

  16. Virginia McCullough Says:

    Spectacular post–what an incredible experience and a rare chance to see such a sight. Keep the photos coming!

  17. Anne,

    I learned something new about you, daughter of a pilot. There’s a certain dash and mystique to that occupation/profession, isn’t there? This experience truly was unique and while I have many photos, of which I shared a few, the photos in my mind are most precious. And the fact my son and I shared such an experience.

  18. Donna,

    I’m not afraid of heights, but would never want to get on a roller coaster or get too close to the edge of a cliff. I hate driving across long bridges because I’m afraid of falling. But I think not being afraid during this ride was due to my trust in my son.

    Thanks for stopping by. And congrats on such a great performance for your program on Saturday.

  19. Inion,

    Fireweed is set primarily in Alaska. Better Than Dessert has at least third of the book set there, maybe closer to half. I love WI for many reasons but if I couldn’t live here I’d choose Alaska or a state with mountains and large bodies of water. And seasons.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  20. Virginia,

    Spectacular post? Why thank you! The photos are a bit faded and it’s obvious I was in the plane but I thought those defects lent a sense of reality to the photo experience.

    So glad you stopped by.

  21. Casey … Holy Cow !!! What a spectacular post and thos photos are to die for. That sounded like a grant adventure … and althought he climate and view were different … it reminded me of the plane scene in Out of Africa 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing this adventure with us.

  22. Eileen Doyle Says:

    I loved the trip we took to Alaska, and after reading this I so want to go again. Hope you get there again soon.

  23. Florence,

    Funny you should mention Out of Africa because as we were doing this flight, that scene in OOA where Robert Redford takes MS flying for the first time came to my mind. Of course, our plane was open to the wind, but the thrill MS portrayed in her face at the adventure and the scenery and looking at the world from above I’m sure reflected mine.

    That’s one of my favorite movies.

  24. Eileen,

    I hope you get there again and see other places and do different things. The state has so much that’s off the beaten tourist highways.

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