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I woke up early on a clear June day in Anchorage, Alaska, excited for my upcoming tour flight with a bush pilot. I had always wanted to see Mount McKinley, and this was my chance to get up close and personal with the tallest mountain in North America.

I arrived at Lake Hood near Anchorage airport, eager for my tour flight around the glaciers and granite walls of Mount McKinley.

I met the bush pilot, a grizzled man with a thick mustache and a twinkle in his eye. He introduced himself and showed me to his plane, a small floatplane that was moored to the edge of a pier at the lake.

Lake Hood is near Anchorage airport is home to a fleet of floatplanes. We loaded up into a small Cessna, and my pilot gave me a quick safety briefing.

But not before taking my weight... The pilot started the engine. The plane sputtered to life and we taxied out onto the lake. He gave me thumbs up and we took off into the air.

We flew over the sprawling Anchorage. Left behind the Chugach mountains and headed north over Talkeetna and out towards the wilderness of the Alaska Range. The landscape below us was stunning. Snow-capped mountains, glaciers, shallow rivers and some forests.

Seated next to the pilot the pilot he spotted and pointed to me wildlife roaming freely down in the wild - bears, bison and deer. I had the best view with windows to the front and to the side and shot the best pictures I knew how.

I was struck by the awesomeness of the landscape. Mostly barren land. The snow-capped mountains, some forests, and sparkling lakes were a feast for the eyes.

We flew for over an hour at relatively low altitude. Eventually we reached our destination: Mount McKinley. The mountain was more impressive than I had imagined. It is so big that it seemed to fill the entire sky.

We winged around the mountain. I was amazed by the sheer size and beauty of the white glaciers and the black granite walls. It was hard to believe that I was actually flying above one of the most remote and inaccessible places on Earth.

Glacier below in between granite walls

The pilot flew us around the mountain. Then he flew between ice covered granite peaks. I had a too close of a look at the glaciers below and the granite side walls. The walls are steep.

I was afraid. I was scared we would crash into them.

I was scared. I prayed wishing to get out of this wild and bizarre mountain trap. I wanted out of that suspended reality.

Confronting a granite wall

After a while, we landed on a small lake in the shadow of Mount McKinley. We got out of the plane and took a short walk around. The air was crisp and clean, and the only sound was the wind rustling through the trees.

We then took a break to relieve ourselves. There are no bathrooms, so we had to step over the wing of the plane. It was a bit of a challenge, but it was worth it to be able to experience the beauty of this remote wilderness.

Taking a leak over the wing.

After our break, we got back in the plane and flew back to Anchorage. The flight back was just as beautiful as the flight out. I couldn't believe how lucky I was to have had this opportunity to see Mount McKinley from the air.

The entire trip took about five hours, It is an unforgettable experience. I highly recommend a tour flight with a bush pilot to anyone who is visiting Alaska. It is an amazing way to see the beauty of this state and to get up close and personal with Mount McKinley.


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