Landing on a Glacier on Mount Denali With a Grizzly Sighitng From the Air… 06/16/17

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Folks, let me warn you… This is going to be a really long post… I have so many amazing pictures, it was so hard to throw any aside…

If you look above you will see how popular #TheDenaliBrewingCompany is in TalkeetnaAK… All the locals wear their t-shirts… They also have a mug club for the #locals out here, which is limited to a certain number a year… What the locals do is pay a one time fee for the year and in return they get a discounted beer with 4 ounces more in a nice large glass mug… Hence the name #MugClub…

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Now, the great thing about being a #bartender and a #erver in #TalkeetnaAK is a lot of the #TouringCompanies either offer an amazing discount or a free #tour all together… Tracey and I tried to get booked on the #K2Aviation plane, which was free but they were fully booked…

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And considering the #weather here is so erratic… Especially on #MountDenali, which has its own weather system, its so huge and mighty…

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Tracey and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity… So, we went with #SheldonAirService, who was a smaller company so they had to charge us half price…

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And half price was worth flying with Sheldon because you got your own little private plane with only four passengers and a pilot… Where as the K2 is a lot bigger company and have bigger planes… Exactly the reason they can afford to give free rides to locals…

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It’s a no brainer why they offer such awesome deals for the residents considering most residents work in the #TouristIndustry out here and they will talk about their experience to the many, 100,000 plus tourists that come through this little #borough every year… #WordOfMouth is the most powerful advertising tool… That’s why behind the door discounts and favors help this industry more than an ad in the paper… And what’s the cost? A free ride… Sounds pretty cheap to me!

This is exactly how some parts of NYC work and when I lived there, I used to get free hotel rooms from the concierges in trade for free tickets to a comedy show… And we all know how much a hotel room in NYC costs! So I built a lot of relationships with all kinds of people in NYC… I would get a lot of favors and handshakes… You get a much larger return for a fraction of what advertising would have cost… The Concierges would send up to 300 people a week to the #ComedyClub I worked at… All just because I am friendly with them and invite them to a show with a big headliner…

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I forget to mention that Talkeetna is not technically a town… It’s actually a borough… they are so #AntiGovernment up here, they don’t even want to be considered a town… lol! God I love the #politics up here! Talkeetna residents live what they preach, which is so rare these days… So, they feel no need to preach to anyone… Just come and see how it works!

If you look above, you will see little skis on the plane… Well, we will definitely be using those considering we are landing on a #glacier…. lol…

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There’s one of the larger K2 planes above… I believe they can fit up to 12 people or something…

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Now, if anyone knows #TheTravelingMac they know I am petrified of #flying… But I couldn’t miss the opportunity of a life time to land on a #glacier… Just as I will go and jump off of a cliff, which is petrifying to me, I will not pass up this amazing opportunity due to fear…

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There’s Tracey above, cramped in the tiny plane… lol…

So, I smoked a lot of #MaryJane before going on this trip, so I could avoid the horrible #AnxietyAttacks I get while up in the air… Well, minimize them at least…

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Then to my surprise I was seated right up front… I was a little up in the air about this… It was nice I could see where we were going but at the same time it was petrifying I could see where we were going… lol…

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This was the first time riding in the front of a plane and I was very nervous… But I wasn’t going to unload the whole plane and embarrass myself anymore than I already have…

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So, today was many firsts… first flight in a single engine plane… First time sitting in the front of a plane… and the first glacier landing…

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It was a lot to absorb and if you can see me there holding onto the dashboard, you will see how irrational my fears are… Like holding onto a dashboard is going to make me any safer! Lol! But yet when I was a kid I would not go to the bathroom on the plane because I was afraid I would fall into the toilet and be sucked out of the plane, when it was flushed… another completely irrational fear yet I would go 7 hours without one trip to bathroom sometimes… My Mother couldn’t believe it!

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But a lot of fears and ocd’s are irrational… So, I try to reason with myself and not miss out on opportunities just because of a fear that makes no sense… I fear the regret of missing such a memorable moment more than any irrational fear can ever scare me…

We were soon heading down the runway… And boy was this plane tiny… I was practically shoulder to shoulder with the pilot… But I have to say, I had a sense of comfort sitting next to him… I felt more secure seeing and knowing everything that was happening right in front of me…

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Until we took off at least… The take off was pretty smooth and was amazing to watch… I found it funny how when I tried to take video of the plane, the video camera could never show the plane’s propellers spinning… when I looked through the camera, it appeared as if the propellers were standing still…

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Well, this gave me a little minor heart attack at first, until I realized it was just how the camera worked… And having a film background, I am aware that a video is just a series of fast pictures… So considering the camera is shooting slower than the propeller is moving, it makes them appear as if they are standing still…

We were soon flying over where the #TalkeetnaRiver, #ChulitnaRiver and #SustinaRiver meet…

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You really get a sense of how massive and wide this #river really is from up in the air… This river is a lot smaller during the fall but in the Spring, all of the rain, melted snow and #MeltingGlaciers create one hell of a body of flowing water… Just tons upon tons of trillions upon trillions of gallons of water flowing down this mighty #mountain every minute… It’s remarkable what #MotherNature can do!

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We had to wear headphones the #plane was so noisy… The pilot would pipe in with some history and facts about the mountain and its surroundings… And if you wanted to ask a question, you just talked into the microphone…

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I couldn’t believe I was up in the air in this tiniest of planes… And honestly, my stomach was ok and I was pretty much relaxed considering…

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The view was amazing… Every direction was just pure magnificent beauty…

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You could feel the pressure in the air… It felt so weird in this small plane because it felt more like you were driving on a road than flying… It was a little bit bumpy and the turns were quick and drastic… you even felt some sort of a breeze coming in… If I closed my eyes and put head headphones on, I don’t know if I could tell the difference, if I was up in the air or on the ground…

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I was surprised at how relaxing this flight was… There were parts where I actually forgot we were flying, I was having so much fun…

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And it was so amazing to see where we lived, from up in the air… It really put a new perspective on everything…

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After awhile, I was feeling so comfortable, I actually put my hands on the steering wheel that was directly in front of me… But I was so afraid of doing something wrong and creating a disaster up here… I just carefully held my hand there and then quickly took a picture…

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The pilot told us about all of the cheap land up here and the many who venture out to live in the wilderness for months without seeing another soul…

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This got my mind doing cartwheels… Especially when I found out you could buy three acres up here for around $5,000… But you have to remember, you will be out in the middle of nowhere and you have to get your own electricity, water and septic installed… which is a huge cost out here considering the seclusion…

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But I have to say its definitely an idea… I could buy land up here and slowly add the electric, water and dump… then I can stay up here in #TheMillenniumFalcon until I get a #cabin built.. What an experience that would be…

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Even though I wouldn’t spend all of my #winters up here, I would still love to come up here for the #summers and go south for the winters… And what a story I would have if I did muscle out one winter up here… It’s a whole different world up here, where a lot of residents live without water and electricity for years… When they came up with the term ‘roughing it…’ places like Talkeetna were definitely in mind…

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It’s funny how we perceive the mountain as one dimensional when viewing it from afar… But its a whole different story when you are flying above and through it…

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And we flew through it folks… We didn’t only go above the mountains… We flew through the valleys in between also… Another first for The Traveling Mac…

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At this point I was very comfortable and so happy I went on this trip… My big mouth will be telling all of the customers at the #DenaliBrewingCompany bar about this trip, let me tell you…

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There was a lot of terrain we would fly over that was engulfed in ice and had little puddles of blue water scattered around…

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Then there would be vast, green meadows with hills that looked like something out of a story book…

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You could see how unpredictable the weather is up here from one location to another by just observing the terrain…

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And how the volatile, unpredictable climate up here creates such peace and beauty…

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The colors were just amazing… And we were a lot closer when viewing this all through the naked eye… For some reason the iPhone makes images look further away than they really are, which kind of takes away from what I am experiencing… The mountain above was so close, you could see the crevices, caves and valleys…

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There’s one of those glaciers below with the blue water in the middle… It looks so tiny up here but if we were to land, you would notice this is one big glacier with a huge blue lake in the center… It’s funny how the blend of different temperatures create such vibrant colors… The reason that water appears blue is basically the same science of why the sky appears blue… It all has to do with the activity of the atoms and electrons due to the extreme temperatures… Basic physics really…

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So what the pilot did was a huge loop around the mountain, showing its massiveness…

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Then he started to enter Mount Denali’s gates, as he flew lower and closer to the peaks…

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We soon realized we were close when we started to see huge, vast glaciers blended in with tons of snow…

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Even though we were well into the summer by now, Mount Denali was still experiencing winter up here…

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Mount Denali is the tallest land-based mountain on earth… with a vertical rise of 18,000 feet and a summit elevation of 20,310 feet above #SeaLevel… making it the highest mountain peak in #NorthAmerica… Wow!

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This is where the fight got really exciting as we made our way down and through these rocky, snowy valleys…

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Your eyes would hurt from the brightness of the snow… I was constantly moving my jaw, trying to avoid painful ear popping…

Then all of a sudden, the pilot started jerking this emergency brake looking thing up and down rapidly right next to me…

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I quickly asked what he was doing, a little nervous about the secrecy of it all… I guess the snow skis have to be manually lowered by hand pumping the hydraulic pump…

Uhhhh….  Wow? I am on a plane where the skis have to be manually lowered by a crude pump? I’m glad I didn’t know this before I got on… It may have been a deal breaker for me… lol! I’m just kidding… But it did scare me a little at first…

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I just kept on thinking of how this plane is going to land… All of the twists and turns… And it can’t be easy landing on slippery snow and ice… I can’t even drive on it effectively… Now this guy is manually pumping down skis and is going to land on a piece of ice, while going 100’s miles an hour from the air… I am so glad I didn’t think about this until now! And let me tell you, I started to get really nervous when we moved towards land…

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And landing was quite the task… As we made our way through mountainous valleys, with clouds and snow all around…

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You could sense the #ErraticWeather in the region… there was a cold pressure up here that pushed on your skull and made you feel a little light headed…

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And as we got closer to our landing strip, the clouds started appearing all over… Scattered in different places…

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It would be foggy and cloudy around one mountain…

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Only to see clear skies above others…

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I could have never imagine the vastness and complexity of this area… The weather alone is a subject in school in itself…

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We really started to get close to the mountains now, as we were preparing to land… Even through the iPhone it appears I could reach out and touch that mountain… If there was an animal walking along the edge of this mountain, we could make eye contact, we were so close…

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Here I caught the whole going around this particular mountain, as the pilot made his way to the landing strip…

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I was amazed to see such open spaces deep within these mountains…

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The pilot informed us that they have to choose different landing strips because after landing numerous times, the snow and ice on the glacier get too soft for the planes…

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There’s a lot more to these tours than meets the eye… I think we take it for granted that we can fly around a mountain and land on a glacier…

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The preparation for such is very complex and can be very dangerous if you are not properly prepared…

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So, a lot of days, there are no flights over Denali… I would even say that 30% of the days out of the summer, there are no tours at all…

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These companies are constantly checking the weather, giving updates to their customers and putting people on standby because they have no idea if they can get up there for the day or not…

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Then to top it off, they have to worry about landing and the safety of their patrons… Not only getting up on that mountain but also making sure the weather permits them to leave…

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Because these flying tour companies do not just cater to the tourists… No, there is a much bigger, more expensive industry up here… The industry falters out a little when the summer weather comes around but in the spring, Talkeetna is swarmed with #MountainClimbers…

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And contrary to what most might believe, these climbers don’t start from the actual base of Mount Denali… That would be ridiculous considering the mountain is so wide, you would be doing more hiking than climbing just to get to the actual mountain climbing…

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So, they rely on these #MountainFlyingTaxis to get them to there drop off point…

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And where we are landing folks is exactly where they get dropped off also… So, these mountain taxis are not just making money off of the tourists, they also have a bigger job, that allows the tours to be an added money making perk…

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For if there was no mountain climbing up here I don’t think the tours could financially sustain themselves with all of this erratic weather… These plane companies seem to have a few different irons in the oven, which helps them achieve a profit at the end of the year…

If you look above, you will immediately notice the landing strip…

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It appears like its just crushed snow that has been trampled on when in reality that is one huge, thick strip of ice that is so massive and stable, we can land a plane on it… WOW!

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It’s completely amazing that we can do this for a few hundred bucks and its worth every single penny of it! I take my hat off to these plane touring companies… I couldn’t imagine the cost and preparation this entails…

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It must be difficult to pull off a profit doing this every year… And one day of dealing with this mountain and its erratic weather, must be a task in itself…

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Now the plane was dropping rapidly as we made our way down to the glacier…

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My eyes were aching from the brightness of the snow…

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Sometimes it was hard to focus on one spot it was so bright…

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The landing was awesome… It was so soft landing on the snow and you could feel the plane sliding back and forth as the pilot navigated it to a safe stop…

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Immediately I noticed tiny versions of those blue lakes in the form of puddles…

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It was definitely a very weird feeling out here… It was chilly yet warm… You felt schizophrenic due to the fact you couldn’t focus on anything for a long period of time or your eyes would get this aching feeling…

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Like it was all too much for the eyes to take in…

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The ground was soft and wet… Your typical snowy ground… We had rubber snow boots over our shoes to keep them dry…

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And as you can see, they have built an operation up here to communicate with the folks on the ground…

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I had a fun time inspecting the plane… I couldn’t believe how crude the skis were… they were held on with tension cables that allowed the skis to be pumped out of the way when landing on solid ground…

The planes are so basic when you look at them… they are amazing examples of aerodynamics… As long as the plane has the right curves and wings, it’s really just an engine with a propeller… There’s not much more to it… This made me feel a little more comfortable flying in these things because if they can master a feat with such a simple machine, then why am I so afraid to fly…

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Now, while I am thinking about all of this unnecessary crap… the pilot is communicating with base to make sure the weather will permit our exit…

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They have to constantly communicate because the weather up here can turn at anytime…

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I have spoken to a few #MountainClimbers at the bar and am enthralled by their stories of adventures…

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I had one young man at my bar who was waiting for his dad… His dad was stuck up on the mountain because the weather was so bad, no one could pick them up to fly them out…

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He was stuck up there for an extra few days, I believe… The son would come in everyday and give us updates while he enjoyed our homemade brew…

I also spoke to a group of mountain climbers that were stuck up there for more than a week… And let me tell you, after climbing Mount Denali, you want to get the hell out there… The climb itself consists of days of #camping and resting…

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Well folks, there it is! The Traveling Mac standing on a glacier…

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And his trusty co-pilot with him…

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I wish we had more time to explore… they do have a #GlacierLanding with a short hike, but it was more expensive and we decided flying and landing would be enough…

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I kind of wish we could have gone for a short walk though… Because hopping out of the plane just to get back in ten minutes later was a lot of flying all at once…

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There ahead, you can see some climbers that have set up camp… I wonder if they are at the beginning of their climb or the end…

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I would love to climb this mountain but you really have to prepare for such… It takes a lot of training and know how…

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But who knows… Maybe the opportunity will arise…

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There’s even confusion over who climbed this mountain first to reach one of its highest peaks… I guess the #SourdoughExpedition was the first to reach its’ Northern summit in 1910, considering they erected a pole there to mark their achievement… they were rumored to do the climb daily with a bag of doughnuts each, a thermos of hot chocolate and a 14 foot spruce pole… That’s well under the equipment requirements today… lol…

But not many believed them until another expedition up the mountain confirmed the pole they erected on the North Summit…

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Don’t you think you can disrespect this mountain like they did back then and get away with it… They were extremely lucky they didn’t hit a major obstacle that has killed many in the past… When people attempt to climb Mount Denali, they come fully prepared…

I mean, there’s always a chance you could make it up there with no problems… but that’s a slim chance and when you prepare, you don’t prepare for the best scenario… You prepare for the worse…

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Hundreds have been killed up here by avalanches, storms, accidents and even altitude sickness… The altitude up here is so extreme, you are required to set camp for a few days to get acclimated before starting your next climb… So, that’s why its so frustrating being stuck on this mountain just for a ride home… These poor climbers have already been through weeks of horrible weather, extreme altitudes and a lot of waiting…

Tracey and I were soon back on the plane… This time I sat in the middle with her, which was not a good idea…

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I guess sitting up front alleviated my anxiety for some reason but when I got back onto this plane, I was not feeling as good as the ride up here… the Mary Jane had worn off by now… For some reason sitting in the middle made me feel cramped and nervous…

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Soon after take off, I was just trying to keep my lunch down…

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And believe it or not, this is when The Traveling Mac goes silent… I try to focus on one certain thing as I talk myself down and keep from going into a full blown anxiety attack… I know I sound like an ass but I can’t help these things… Once they start, its very hard to control them without lying down and trying to let my mind to drift off into peace…

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If you look at those tiny dots above, that’s a camp of climbers or #explorers… It must be so exciting to wake up to this magnificent mountain every morning…

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But I still kept on taking pictures… I was not letting this bullshit destroy my memories of this trip…

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This glacier below was like a piece of art… If I was a painter, I would definitely be painting this complex design… You can see where the glacier has split off due to thawing… Mother Nature is the most talented artist to ever exist on this planet… Then you have the art of the Universe that even blows this away…

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At least the flight back was a little shorter… I couldn’t wait for it to be over at this point… My heart was racing, my head was aching and my stomach was doing cartwheels…

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I just didn’t really give a crap how I felt, I just didn’t want to make this trip a nightmare for others by losing my lunch…

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Who wants to experience that after paying 100’s of dollars?

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The sun hid behind the clouds for our return home, which really brought out the colors in the area…

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And you better bet that #EagleEye was out looking for some #GrizzlyBears! I wanted to see one in its natural habitat so badly!

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I found myself wishing to see one, as I looked out the window, trying to track movement on the ground…

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The pilot said that he hadn’t seen one this year yet… Well, you know Eagle Eye took this as a challenge… And this pilot has never experienced a trip with someone who can detect animals from afar with such pin pointed accuracy… lol…

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AND WOULDN’T YOU KNOW IT FOLKS!!!! EAGLE EYE STRIKES AGAIN!

I noticed a little black dot moving around this huge pond below… Probably looking for something to eat and drink… I immediately grabbed the pilot’s attention and he confirmed it was probably a Grizzly, if not, a #BlackBear…

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But Eagle Eye believes it was definitely a Grizzly because I wasn’t looking for a black bear… so why would Eagle Eye detect such?

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I wish I had some binoculars and I was slapping myself for not bringing them… I even have figured out a way to hold your camera lens of your iPhone to the eyehole of the binoculars, to give a close up picture from far away… And it works folks…

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By this point, I am all scrunched up in the seat, trying not to move but still taking pictures…

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Everyone has left me alone as I battled my own irrational mind… I wish our common sense could destroy these ridiculous anxieties but the only way of combatting them is to lie down and wait for them to pass…

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God, I would just love to take a whole summer and hike this area, camping where needed… After a few months out here, I would be a completely different person coming back…

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If you don’t think you can change in life or improve your predicament, then you need to come out here… There’s a reason why rehab centers are all out in nature and away from civilization… Nature heals you folks! I know I repeat this over and over again but its simple logic…

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The single thing that created you, can calm you… Makes sense to me considering your #creator is very aware of the trials and tribulations you have been through considering the #PlanetEarth has gone through way worse and on a much grander scale than we could ever comprehend…

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The infinity of it all is what heals you because it takes your attention off of the small, insignificant things…

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All of this around you is you folks! We come from this! Everything on this planet has a connection to us in some sort of way… Everything on this earth has crossed paths with Mother Nature…. Even some things are so important to us now because we relied on those same things in some part of our evolution…

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Like antibiotics for example… Why do we react so favorably to these medicines… Well, some theorize that we were reliant on those same medicines in our evolution at one time… Maybe we relied on them for food and nourishment when we were just tiny amoebas… That in turn changed our DNA to favor that nourishment as we evolved over millions of years… Now we are much more complex beings, those antibiotics heal us from infection considering they are a huge part of our make up…

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Sorry folks, this is the crap I think about all of the time… I wish I took a career in #science instead of the arts… Believe it or not, science requires a lot of #CreativeThinking when you are trying to figure out our own history and evolution while trying to understand the Universe around and within us…

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I truly believe that #Marijuana falls under my same theory I have for medicines considering it is a medicine itself…

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It’s our society that portrays marijuana as dangerous and a harmful drug when the benefits Mary Jane provides are astronomical… We are discovering new uses for this plant as we research it more and more…

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That’s what leads me to believe that we were reliant on this plant at some point in our evolution… We even have little things called #cannabinoids in our makeup that absorb the #THC and gives us the psychedelic effects we feel…

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As we made our way back, I kept on thinking about the fact we are probably flying over some #WildernessJunkie who is living out here for the whole season… What a life that must be!

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Like this little community below… They are far from town and I don’t see any roads up here…

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So, that gives me the impression that they travel by #boat, which a lot of these wilderness junkies do… It’s the easiest way to get around this ridiculous terrain…

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I just love how #Nature rules out here! In the real world, they would have found a way to rip a road right through this beautiful wilderness…

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But up here it is not the way they work… They work around Mother Nature and give her first priority…

And they don’t accuse you of being tree hugging liberal for doing such…  You see, the people up in #Alaska have a respect for the #wilderness because they know without it, this place wouldn’t be so magical… And as this world becomes ever more developed, places like these become ever more rare and popular!

I love the respect for the land out here and even if some of these people are #TrumpSupporters, I still admire them… Even though they are completely hypocritical considering the #GOP and #BigBusiness do not respect our lands and stupidly choose short capital gain over the longevity of this ever gorgeous land…

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When we landed, I had to sit in the office and close my eyes for about ten minutes… I looked like an idiot but I had to get rid of this panic attack before I could move on… I felt like I was going to pass out…

On our way back, Tracey and I got some burgers… We headed back to #TheFalcon and discussed our ever #AmazingAdventure…

Even though the end of it was uncomfortable as hell, I wouldn’t take a moment of it back… God, Alaska is beautiful…

I am falling in love with yet another woman… Now the loves of my life consist of Tracey, The Millennium Falcon, Mary Jane and Alaska… Oh what a great life we have created together!

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