Alaska Sept 15-22

The cast of characters: John Alexander, Ajay Anand, John Avalos, Bill Baker, Narinder Bajwa, Nikhil Bhambi, Brij Bhambi, Jacob Cohen, Rohan Khanna, Dinesh Khanna, and Manoj Mittal.

Site: Tikchick Narrows Lodge.

Manoj and Jacob were the first to reach Anchorage. The rest of us assembled in Seattle and flew together to Anchorage. The flights followed the schedule, and the luggage arrived with the travelers. After a quick trip to Costco to hunt for travel “essentials”, the group gathered at Kinkade restaurant for dinner. The menu was reasonable but sadly lacking in Sabel.

The next day, a minor glitch in the itinerary created a rush to the airport. We were saved by the bell because the charter had only us as the passengers. The flight took 90 min to reach Dillingham; the propeller made up in noise what it lacked in speed. A 40-minute van ride took us to the float(water) planes. The “bush planes” are single-engine Beavers engineered for short take-off and landing(STOL), an effective transport tool in remote areas. It’s fascinating to watch the bush pilots take off and land in rivers and ravines. The engine is loud and cruising speed of around 120 miles/hr. Our fascination for rides in the bush planes grew thin quickly as we discovered them to be noisy albeit utilitarian taxis that packed us like sardines but transported fairly reliably. The float planes being our primary mode of transportation at the lodge, demanded a quick tutorial. 

We enjoyed the ride to the lodge, feasting on the pristine Alaskan wilderness, lakes, rivers, and waterfalls. 

The landscape is decorated by the glistening lakes that have islands within, embroidered by the changing fall colors, and many islands within the lakes have little lakes within. The serpentine rivers merge and diverge, highlighted by hordes of trees standing sentinels to the gushing waters embracing the Fall colors.

It’s a mesmerizing spectacle that captures nature’s hues on nature’s clues.

The lodge is beautifully located on the banks of two lakes. The accommodations were comfortable, and the staff was extremely hospitable. We saw a pair of bears across the lake, and a bald eagle flew by on our first day.

Sept 17th was the first day of fishing and the group was divided into four locations: Togiak, Kulukak, Agula Pak, and Shadow Bay. We rotated these locations and fished in the lakes and rivers adjacent to the lodge.

Togiak and Kulukak(Clock) had an abundance of silver salmon. The easy fishing cultivated a false sense of competence, but we were humble in our pride. On Kash Creek, Togiak; guides cooked freshly caught salmon, giving us a memorable meal and an unforgettable experience.

Agula Pak was easily the most beautiful river. It has 20% of the entire population of the sockeye. At this time the sock eye is nearly moribund, having finished spawning. We fished Char and Rainbow Trout flanked by two bears on either side of the river banks, a surreal sight. It’s a fantastic experience to watch the bears in their native environs eating salmon, totally unconcerned by the humans fishing some 40 feet away. 

Back at the lodge, we were able to catch more Char and a rare Grayling.

We enjoyed sharing fish stories at breakfast and dinner throughout the entire stay. 

We had Sabel for our last dinner and headed back on 9/21 after making unbelievable memories.

Back in Anchorage, on the way to dinner, we got rear-ended by a couple of distracted young men and survived a minor whiplash. 

Trip back to Seattle afforded incredible views of snow-peaked mountains and glaciers glowing in the dawning Sun. 

From Seattle to Burbank, the plane traveled eerily close to Mt Renier and also had an enchanting look at Half Dome with Nevada and Upper Vernal Falls in full view.

A time capsule of memories keeps us chained to nearly spiritual experiences. 

So long friends, till next time!

– brij

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