One Man's Paradise

One Year Ago Today: #2

It’s been already a year that we stumbled into this little adventure at Purkey Pile?

We had 3 days off. The weather was iffy. We had heard about this remote airstrip near Mt. Russell. Bears, berries, and mountains right outside the tent. The location looked awesome on the map. Our packs were packed. It was all up to the pilot to give it a go. He needed a good 3 hour window and daylight to drop us at Purkey Pile and make it home safely.

There wasn’t much time left when the call came through: “We are going.” Relief, we are going! That relief lasted for a moment. As soon, as we were in the air, I wondered if this was a good idea. Take off was no problem, but as soon as we were in the air, rain drops kept hitting out windshield. No wipers? Our pilot seemed unfazed. Just a few hundred feet above the tundra, below the gray clouds we rumbled West. I could not see any major landmark. Kettle ponds, small creeks, once in a while a big river…

After an hour we circled a crooked gray opening in the tundra that looked like a 4-wheel road from the air… That was our strip? Indeed, Purkey Pile International. From the ground the airstrip looks more like a gravel road, still crooked, for Alaskan bush pilots no big deal.

We unload our backpacks, and wave the plane good-bye. Standing in the rain we try to get a handle on our whereabouts. The sky is gray, in all directions. Where are the mountains. We head towards an abandoned lodge, when we hear the sound of an ATV approaching. Mike, a friendly bear hunter and bush pilot, gives us the lay of the lands. “The lodge is off-limits. The owners are never there, but they don’t like trespassers.” He then points us to a trail that he has bulldozed into the hills. We gladly accept his advice and head into the gray. Blueberries all over the place. Some alders, but thanks to Mike’s trail, we make great progress. We only have to cross 2 creeks, less than knee-high, no big deal.

Before night fall we pick a flat camp site surrounded by blueberries. We have seen only one moose, no bears…


Next morning we wake up to an amazing sight… The storm is clearing, mist is still hanging around the mountains. Very slowly the clouds are climbing, revealing a fresh layer of snow on the mountains.


Too be continued…



One thought on “One Year Ago Today: #2

  1. Pingback: The view from the top | Bearly

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