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The Immortal Beaver – DeHavilland DHC-2

One of my all time favorite planes! There’s nothing better than getting dropped off in the middle of the mountains and watching it fly away – leaving only the sounds of the mountains around you – knowing that’s the last mechanical man made machine you’ll hear for days… but then when the weather goes total Alaskan, there’s nothing better than that same Beaver coming back to get you with a world-class bush pilot grinning ear to ear and laughing knowing what kind of shit we just went through for the past several days.

It’s raining, there’s a frigid wind coming off the Harding Icefield – chilled to the bone, feeling extremely grateful – we climb in the Beaver after daisy-chaining our packs from the beach to the back of plane. Soaking, dripping wet, smelling like a dog that was on walkabout for a month, and dreaming of cheeseburgers and birthday cakes. The immortal Beaver takes the waves and and the wind like they’re not even there. Feeling the rumble of the rotary fire breathing engine in your seat like a drag car at the line.

We’re off. Looking down over the mountains and glaciers we trekked across for days on end. Spanning the distance in mere minutes that took us days of rewarding exhaustion to achieve. The Beaver lands back on the lake we left from, the sun is shining, humans are wearing t-shirts and smiling. We all look at each other with glossed over eyes wondering where the hell we are. In a matter of about an hour we left pure Alaskan mountain weather at its finest example of what Alaska can deliver to a perfect Kenai Peninsula day of warm sun and blue skies.

As we scramble out of the Beaver with soaked though, steaming GoreTex, onlookers look at us wondering where the hell we came from as we all kinda feel like we’re from different planets. An exchange of high-fives, bear hugs, and some laughs we shed the rain gear and reminisce about the amazing adventure we just had. The reality of the frontcountry is slowly setting in as you suddenly hear all these crazy sounds of the industrial world.

Our clients are stoked, they’re still processing the mountain download they just received. Us guides look at each and say we’re ready to go back. In some cases it’s enjoyable to leave, only because of the easily accessible cheeseburgers and birthday cakes, but I always find myself wanting to be right back in the mountains. Roaming, wandering, exploring, learning. With the Beaver we get in and out of these places by the means of highly-skilled, Alaskan bush pilots – people I’m honored to fly with.


~Keep adventuring

Kyle McDowell