I headed out for another bout of aerial photography, this time out to Lake Clark National Park & Preserve, just a short flight of an hour or so across the Cook Inlet and through Lake Clark Pass. Along the way over, we passed abeam of a steaming Mt. Redoubt, looking like it was developing a lava dome. It may have also been a rock slide pile; just a bit difficult to tell from our distance.
After flying through the pass, we headed over to Twin Lakes to get a glimpse of Dick Proenneke’s cabin, which I have wanted to see ever since I read One Man’s Wilderness. After passing by the cabin a few times to capture some photos, we headed over to Turqoise Lake and Telequana Lake. Unfortunately, all of the lakes still were completely covered with ice and the light was pretty awful for good images, so this part of the trip was primarily for scouting. Autumn would be a great time to return to the park, particularly this area. After touring the area, we headed to Iliamna to land and refuel, and wait for the sun to get a little lower in the sky.
While we were at the field in Iliamna, we had a trail dinner and noticed that the building at the south end of the runway sported the logo for the Pebble Partnership. The Pebble Limited Partnership is the mining company owned in part by Anglo-American – a British mining firm – that wants to construct and operate what would become the largest copper and gold mine in North America right at two of the main rivers that constitute the headwaters for the largest natural sockeye salmon fishery in the world, Bristol Bay. Despite massive opposition by locals, including fisherman and Alaska Natives (even jewelry companies are against it), Pebble is moving ahead with its plans to build a mine that would most certainly destroy the fishery and leave a permanent footprint on the land. The mine would never fully be reclaimed, and thus, the land and the fishery it supports would never recover.
At about 8:45, we got back into the plane and headed out east-northeast over Iliamna Lake toward Mt. Iliamna, for a route between Mt. Iliamna and Mt. Redoubt – two of four volcanoes within sight of our flight (Spur, Redoubt, Iliamna and Augustine). Once through the mountains, we followed the coast back to Anchorage, observing the oil and gas platforms of the Cook Inlet along the way and avoiding several groups of migrating birds – all of which were fortunately below us. We also passed near that Trading Bay fuel storage facility, the one that some genius decided to put downriver from one of the active volcanoes in Alaska, Mt. Redoubt. The same facility that, when Redoubt was really kicking up a fuss last year, was threatened by a massive mudslide that came dangerously close to the facility.