Hint: If a destination is accessible to you ONLY by float plane, it will guaranteed be epic. Consider that a rule of the universe.
Or at least consider that Chris’s rule. It certainly paid off in Alaska.
About 60 miles north of Anchorage is a hidden jewel of the wilderness called Lake Creek. While “Lake Creek” really sounds like someone got lazy when naming it, I can assure you the sanctuary is every bit as spectacular as its name is not.
My wife and I were headed out for the day to Lake Creek Lodge, a phenomenally beautiful place. We left early morning from Anchorage on the plane and passed over the most pristine, untouched woods I’d possibly ever seen. Not a sign of human contact, snow nestled on the piney branches of the evergreens, just like a postcard. When we landed safely on the river, we were basically disembarking right at the front door of the lodge.
…or at least we would have been, if we didn’t get stuck in the middle of the river! The water visibility is maybe 2-3” through parts of Lake Creek, until you hit the proper channel that flows off the Yetna River. Our little float plane got stuck on a sandbar out in the middle of the shallows, and a boat had to come out to pick us up.
And so the adventure began!
We made it to dry land and trekked a short way to the lodge, only to be greeted by the owner, a truly phenomenal guy named Jeff. Jeff welcomed us warmly and told us a little bit about the history of his property and the Lake Creek area, and in the most hospitable fashion introduced us to a few other folks, including our guide, Nate. Let me give you a snippet of these guys, pulled from Jeff Woodward’s Lake Creek Lodge website:
Alaska reveals the world to us like it must have appeared on the first day after creation. Everything in Alaska is oversized and nothing in relation to human measurement.
The state stretches 2300 miles from south to north and 3800 miles from east to west over 21 degrees of latitude and 43 degrees of longitude. If one would like to survey this land at a rate of one square mile per day, you would require nearly 4200 years to complete this task.
How wild is that?!
As crazy as it is to get that perspective, though, remember I was there on a mission — and it wasn’t to survey the land.
Traditionally I like to fly fish, but on this trip I focused on silver salmon fishing, something conventional to pack the cooler and have some meat to take home. In some ways it was more about utility and the payoff than it was about the pure sport.
But the real joy was having my wife with me. It was one of her first visits to Alaska, and with every glance I was reminded again of all the reasons I fell in love with her in the first place. She’s got an adventurer’s heart to be sure, a spirit as wild and pure as the clear Alaskan waters bubbling gently past sparkling snowfields, towering mountain peaks, and sprawling grasslands dancing under unforgettable blue skies. I won’t apologize for a sappy moment now or ever — I saw in her the same emotion and wonder in my own heart. Timeless.
And it is a timeless place, out there on Lake Creek. Everyone comes and goes at their leisure, everyone coexists in ways you just wouldn’t think possible in a typical fishing destination.
Take Mike Miller for instance. The Millers were a couple fishing up the slew where the creek really flows into the river, and by the time we got out there we became one of about 10 other boats from the lodge’s fleet. And it was crowded. We were so close to this other boat, I thought for sure some jerk would come say something or yell at us. If I was having a bad day, I might’ve done just that if I were in his shoes.
But they were the most phenomenal people. A nice couple from Seattle, the Millers welcomed us to the area with friendly hospitality, not unlike our host Jeff had done. Mike told us they had been coming up to this lodge for years and had never had a single issue.
We got to fishing then, and it wasn’t long before they caught their limit. We’d been trading stories back and forth across the boats, nice and relaxed, and I’m pleased to say we were hauling in some pretty big fish, too. Within an hour and a half, we’d caught our limit of silvers as well!
It was such a proud moment, just to be there together and be totally content in this rugged, wonderful part of this planet. And even though my wife isn’t usually a fan of holding up the fish, I got her to show off one of the silvers — a pretty big accomplishment.
I had heard stories about Lake Creek that it could be really hit or miss, but luckily we picked a day that was a huge hit. We headed back to the lodge for lunch and a couple of drinks. We played a few hands of cards sitting there in the warm dining room, admiring the a-frame cabins out the window and the natural beauty of the cabin’s architecture. As the afternoon wore on, my wife decided to take a nap before our departure.
So, you guessed it, I went back out to fish.
Our guide, Nate, took me back out on the water to fish around for rainbows since we’d hit our limit of silvers already. He told me a bit about his home where he was from, back in Maine, and we talked back and forth about the incredible marvel it is to stand there in the Alaskan wild and be a part of something so pure. It wasn’t really about the fishing, that afternoon, it was just about being there.
Or maybe I can just say that because we didn’t catch many more rainbows. Either way though, I felt each minute tick by like it was ticking in my chest. When I closed my eyes, I could hear the bubbling waters trickle over rocks in the creek bed; I could feel the Alaskan sun warm my face even as it began to set towards the Western horizon; a breeze carried the muffled voices of other fisherman past us, out over the open plain. And I felt totally one with all of it.
By 6:00, however, our adventure was finished. We thanked Jeff and Nate for their gracious hospitality and said goodbye to the Millers and our new friends. We’d had our fill, and we loaded the float plane with a big cooler of fish. I couldn’t wait to get back and show our little ones everything we’d caught, and I felt the unique, full contentment of a being a strong provider. Like one of the original pioneers.
Maybe it was the big cooler of fish, or maybe it was a happy heart from the day spent with my wife. Or maybe it was something about that part of Lake Creek that was truly timeless. It’s hard to find the right words. Maybe I’ll have to get back out there and hope they find me.
If you know what I’m talking about, shoot me a note and let me know how you’d describe it. After all, that’s what this is all about .