Flying from Phoenix to Whitehorse

On Friday, my long journey home from Arizona to the Yukon began with a 04:00 wakeup call, and a 04:30 shuttle to the airport with a particularly friendly driver.

By 05:45 when I shot this photo from the departure lounge at PHX, I was ready to get going, hoping for some great photo ops, though knowing that forest fire smoke and/or clouds could eliminate most or even all of them.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
By our scheduled 06:00 departure time, the Alaska Airlines 737 was just about to lift off the runway into the beautiful dawn sky.
Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
The earth soon started to vanish into the murk, and I went to sleep for a couple of hours…
Aerial view of Arizona on a smoky summer morning
…waking up as the smoke started to dissipate in eastern Washington, a few minutes before 08:00.
Aerial view of eastern Washington on a smoky summer morning
Looking up the Columbia River from Boardman.
Looking up the Columbia River from Boardman, WA
West of Yakima, the agricultural area meets the desert hills and then the pine forests.
Aerial view of Washington's dry belt
I thought that this location would really stand out on Google Earth but nope, I can’t find it – near Yakima somewhere.
Aerial view of Washington's dry belt
A much broader view taken just a minute after the photo above shows what has become a series of massive wildfires now called the Carlton Complex and Chiwaukum Creek fires, not long after they started.
Aerial view of the Carlton Complex and Chiwaukum Creek fires
A look at the different worlds on the opposite sides of the Cascade Mountains – cool, foggy valleys on the west while the east side goes up in flames.
Cascade Mountains, Washington
Looking through a hole in the clouds at Seattle Center. The Space Needle has always been special to me, as I won a trip to the 1962 World’s Fair, which it was built for, in a contest among Vancouver Province paperboys.
Seattle Center
I had a layover of just over 3 hours in Seattle, which was okay. I added quite a few new planes to my collection, plus this 1960s Volkswagen pickup that was driving across the service area.
1960s Volkswagen pickup
The best of the aircraft I added was this new Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, JA827A, from ANA – All Nippon Airways.
Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner JA827A

It turned into a rather ugly morning at SEA, with lots of stressed out people because of weather delays (SFO was closed due to fog), mechanical problems and oversold flights. I only had a gate change, though, and at 11:40 was once again taxiing toward the active runway.

While taxiing, I saw this unique tool the Fire Rescue department at Sea-Tac uses – an aircraft mock-up designed for approach, entry and tactics training on the airfield.
Fire Rescue training aircraft mockup at Sea-Tac
Over the San Juan Islands, with Vashon Island on the left and Maury Island on the right.
Vashon Island and Maury Island
There are some impressive mountains on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula.
Impressive mountains on Washington's Olympic Peninsula
We climbed up over a cloud layer for a while, and the next place I could see through a break in the clouds was Wrangell, Alaska. Just north of Wrangell, the 21-mile-long LeConte Glacier flows into LeConte Bay.
LeConte Glacier flowing into LeConte Bay, Alaska
Nearing Juneau at 1:00 pm, this is Taku Arm, with the massive Taku Glacier on the left and the East Twin Glacier in the distance.
Taku Arm and Taku Glacier, Alaska
The captain announced that we were going to make a spectacular approach down Gastineau Channel, then rescinded that because of a medevac plane in our way, then said that the medevac had been expedited and we were back on for the Gastineau Channel approach. It was indeed impressive. Nicely played, Alaska Airlines!
Downtown Juneau from an Alaska Airlines jet
After a couple of days of desert heat, the air in Juneau was soooo refreshing!
Juneau airport
This was the busiest I’ve ever seen the Juneau airport.
Alaska Airlines counter at Juneau airport
I was pleased to see that we’d been assigned a 10-passenger Cessna Caravan for the next leg, Wings of Alaska to Skagway.
Wings of Alaska Cessna 208 Caravan N9481F
We took off at our scheduled 2:30, and 5 minutes later were looking down on the Herbert Glacier.
Herbert Glacier, Alaska
A close look at the Eagle Glacier.
Eagle Glacier, Alaska
I take a lot of photos on these flights, but no photo can really show you what this country is like – it’s something you have to experience. And year after year, I want to experience it over and over again 🙂
Glacier along Lynn Canal, Alaska
Spectacular peaks along Lynn Canal, Alaska
Berners Bay was in the news a lot a few years ago because of protests against a new gold mine, but it’s a name not heard much anymore.
Berners Bay, Alaska
The Kensington Mine that caused all the fuss started production in the summer of 2010, currently has 318 employees and in 2013 produced 114,821 ounces of gold. The gold belt that the mine is on has been mined off and on in small ways for almost 120 years now – the Kensington is by far the largest so far.
Kensington Mine, Alaska
I was surprised to see this small, long-abandoned mine high above and to the south of the Kensington – there’s a helicopter pad, a loader, and an adit going into the mountain has water flowing out of it.
Abandoned gold mine north of Berners Bay, Alaska
More ice, more granite, more waterfalls 🙂
Spectacular peaks along Lynn Canal, Alaska
All too soon, at 3:05, we were looking down on the White Pass & Yukon Route railway’s Shops at Skagway as we made the final tight turn to land.
White Pass & Yukon Route railway's Shops at Skagway
Within a few minutes, I had my bags packed into the Tracker and was headed home. As I drove north of Carcross, the weather changed dramatically. Nice welcome home – thanks loads, Mother Nature!
Rain on the South Klondike Highway

I got home about 6:00 pm, with a lot of catching up to do before my son and his family arrive for a visit in a few days, and a few days after they leave, I’ll be flying back to Phoenix again 🙂


Flying from Phoenix to Whitehorse — 4 Comments

  1. Very, very nice. I’ll have to look at that again when I have more time. BTW, I believe the picture near Yakami that you were looking for on Google maps is I 82 and is in this area… I base that on looking at some of the details in the landscape. It looks like yours was from a little different angle than the on in the map.

  2. As they say “never a dull moment”. You do get around don’t you Murray ! Thanks for sharing and love your pictures as well as the written comments during your flights. Maureen

  3. I endorse Maureen’s remarks 100%. You have enough get-up-and-go to leave the rest of us breathless and now with your home-and-wheels-in-one, your theme song will be “…. wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home …” I have just been having a catch-up of your last few posts, so haven’t taken it all in yet. I concur with your admiration of Frank Lloyd Wright. His home in the desert looks fascinating. Your photos of the glaciers are amazing. You have quite a bit of Summer left, so what and where next, I am wondering …
    Best Regards,
    Marie G.

  4. Thanks as always for the pics and commentary. My son was in Juneau last year for a big adventure trip and I was there 20 years ago to meet my brother for some recreation…it was a spectacular (and hairy) turn and final descent into Juneau that day.