The Journey Home: Denali-Anchorage-Juneau-Skagway-Whitehorse

On Monday morning we began our journeys home, Cathy and I to Whitehorse and the rest of the group to Toronto and beyond. The weather made it much easier to leave. I read yesterday that the rain turned torrential later in the day – what a day in the park that would be!

Rain at Healy, Alaska

Cute tag for the door at the B&B – “We are out to see the moose”.

We are out to see the moose

I noticed on the way north that a plane I flew in a few years ago has a new paint job, so stopped to get a photo. This is a Piper PA-31-310 Navajo, often called a “Baby Navajo”. The high-viz strips are a great idea – it was tough to see the other planes that were out flightseeing with us that day.

Piper PA-31-310 Navajo N6620L

We detoured into Talkeetna again.

Welcome to Talkeetna, Alaska

The detour was to pick up some earrings that were being made to match a necklace that one of the girls had bought on our last stop. The artist had forgotten to do it, but a couple more purchases were made in the market next door.

Craft market in Talkeetna, Alaska

And we had another excellent lunch at the West Rib Pub, so it wasn’t a wasted trip at all.

West Rib Pub - Talkeetna, Alaska

We dropped the van, and they shuttled us to the Anchorage airport in very heavy traffic. It was quiet at ANC, though – this was shot at 5:45pm.

Quiet at ANC

Our Alaska Air flight to Juneau pulled away from the gate in a light rain at 8:00pm, 15 minutes late. The rest of the group were on a flight scheduled to leave just after midnight.

Leaving ANC in a light rain

I love the swoopy new paint jobs on Era’s planes.

Era Avation

Taking off over Cook Inlet.

Taking off over Cook Inlet - Anchorage, Alaska.

Ninety minutes later, we were on the final descent to Juneau.

Flying into Juneau, Alaska

We called the Best Western Country Lane Inn and they sent a shuttle right over – it’s only a mile away. Pleasant staff and room, but when I asked about places to go for a light dinner that we could walk to, the 2 staff on the desk said there was no place, and the shuttle driver had just moved to Juneau so didn’t know. Cathy and I went for a walk just for the exercise , and there were 3 places to eat within easy walking distance. That’s pretty basic information to screw up, folks.

Best Western Country Lane Inn - Juneau, Alaska

We had a leisurely morning on Tuesday. The free breakfast at the hotel was good, and we caught a 9:30 shuttle back to the airport. Check-in at Wings of Alaska was so friendly and simple – the way flying used to be. No security lines even! Our excess baggage cost $12 – no carryons are allowed so the 50-pound allowable includes everything.

Wings of Alaska - Juneau

The entrance area at JNU is being rebuilt, but there still won’t be any place to watch planes from!

The entrance area at JNU is being rebuilt

We boarded a Cessna 207 and at our scheduled 11:00am we were off, turning over the mud flats of Fritz Cove and then heading north to Skagway.

Departing from Juneau, Alaska

The Eagle Glacier is just north of Juneau.

Eagle Glacier, Alaska

Passing by Sullivan Island, a marine park, at 11:21.

Sullivan Island marine park, Alaska

The Davidson Glacier.

Davidson Glacier, Alaska

Historic Fort William H. Seward at Haines.

Fort William H. Seward at Haines

For the past few days we’d been watching news reports of heavy rains and flooding that had wiped out every highway leading to Whitehorse – I picked up this newspaper when we reached Denali. Hundreds of people were stranded along the Alaska Highway in particular, and food was being airlifted into Whitehorse! The highway from Skagway had been re-opened the day before, so we knew that we could get home, but re-stocking the kitchen could be a problem.

Newspaper headline - Alaska Highway closed due to washouts

Every large river we flew over was a raging torrent – this is the water from the Ferebee River, which flows from the Ferebee Glacier just north of Haines.

Ferebee River, Alaska

Waterfalls everywhere you look!

Waterfall along Taiya Inlet

Our pilot had warned us that it could be rough going into Skagway, and it was indeed. I knew that still photos wouldn’t do it justice so shot this 3½-minute video on the way in. At the head of the first bay you see is the site of the gold rush town of Dyea. Nice landing in tough conditions, Dan!

Getting away from the Skagway airport was as quick and simple as the rest of the process – 2 thumbs up, Wings of Alaska!

After 2 weeks of getting skunked for good bear sightings, Mother Nature sent one final gift just a couple of miles south of Carcross. What a great way to end the trip.

Black bear with cinnamon cub at Carcross, Yukon

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