For Charles & Co

October 1999.

Icy blues and snowy whites

Dear Charles,

For a lover of wilderness in its purest form, Alaska is the perfect destination. I have crafted an itinerary for you with these values in mind, giving priority to opportunities that will allow you to come in contact with unadulterated nature. You will also observe the various ways in which man has engaged with that nature, whether by preserving it or by figuring out truly miraculous ways to travel through harsh and unforgiving territory. Your trip will offer a variety of vistas, flora, and fauna, as you forge your way across America’s arctic outpost.

Day 1: Arrival in Fairbanks

Your companion guide, Marshall, will be awaiting you at the Alaska International Airport in Fairbanks and will accompany you for the duration of your trip. In the late afternoon at the Wedgewood Resort, you will have a formal introduction to the planned activities for the next eight days.

Day 2: Brooks Range

This morning in Bettles, Alaska, you will take float planes to Iniakuk Lodge. The Lodge is a privately-owned wilderness lodge located 60 miles above the Arctic Circle on the southern flank of the Brooks Range of mountains. Adjacent to the Gates of the Arctic National Park, this wonderfully remote environment offers excellent opportunities for fishing, canoeing, hiking, rafting, flightseeing, and wildlife viewing. You will arrive in time for a full afternoon of activity. After a relatively early dinner, you may spend some more time fishing or go on an evening canoe ride at sunset.

Day 3: Wilderness exploration

Charles, today will be spent exploring the beautiful wilderness. You will have the choice of fishing in the Iniakuk Lake, cruising down the Alatna River in a motorboat, hiking through the woods, or taking a naturalist’s walk on the tundra to learn about this fragile ecosystem, whichever the mood strikes. Those in the group who have a fondness for flying can take in the landscape from above and visit a remote tundra lake and stream system to fish. A massage therapist will also be available for those who want to decompress after their adventures.

Day 4: Denali

Depart from the Lodge today in classic Alaskan style, on float planes to Bettles. There, indulge in lunch at Bettles Lodge. Then, in the late afternoon, you will arrive at the Kantishna district Denali National Park. Your evening will be informative and refreshing: a naturalist will share his vast knowledge with you as you hike through this pristine reserve. Just as exhaustion creeps in, you will arrive at your accommodation, a comfortable and rustic spot: the perfect resting place for your well-adventured feet.

Day 5: Wickersham

Your accommodation, located deep in the heart of the Denali National Park, offers views of the Wickersham Wall of Denali, the highest peak in North America and the largest rock mass in the world. Your day will be spent exploring this area. As always, Marshall will provide you with guidance, assistance, insight, and companionship. Activities include canoeing on Wonder Lake, fishing in Moose creek, and bicycling around Kantishna mining district. A picnic lunch will allow you to stay in the wilderness for as long as you please. In the evening, you will return to your lodging for a hearty supper over a flickering hearth.

Day 6: Toward Seward

Weather permitting, you will take a direct flight to Seward, this morning, transferring planes in Talkeetna, where you have lunch and a rest. If you wish, you may take a peek into this scenic little town before continuing on your way. If weather does not cooperate, you will instead return on a scenic bus ride along the only road through the Park, which offers excellent photographic and wildlife viewing opportunities. You will arrive late afternoon in Seward, and have the rest of the day at leisure.

Day 7: Kenai Fjords

Charles, the fjords await today! You will spend a full day winding through Kenai Fjords National Park where you will see wildlife—whales, sea otters, seals—as well as have the opportunity to come close to several tidewater glaciers.

All that winding will open up your appetite, and lunch will be waiting for you ashore. In the late afternoon, enjoy guided kayak trips through this majestic, icy waterscape. If the group feels honing their paddling skills, you can take for kayaking lessons which I’ve tentatively reserved for you, based on our conversation.

Day 8: Farewell

Your trip is wrapping up today. You will make an early departure today by float plane. During the flight, you will pass over the Harding Ice fields and the Chugach Mountains on your way to Palmer, where you will have the opportunity for a tour. Then, you will leave for Anchorage, where your trip will conclude with a final night at the Regal Alaskan Hotel.

Charles, it has been my pleasure to plan this itinerary for your Arctic Adventure. Please feel free to contact me at any time, should the need arise.