I received a call from a past customer in 2003 who wanted me to give him an estimate on building a new lodge/cabin and repair an old log cabin at Lake Nerka north of Dillingham in the Tikchik Lakes system. No problem, I would fly down, take a look at the site and come home, no problem.
I made arrangements for a jet boat at Lake Aleknagik to take me up the Agulowak River to Lake Nerka or Second Lake as it is called by the locals.
I figured I would leave the home strip at 4:00AM, fly to Aleknagik, arriving at 8:00 AM, taking the jet boat to Agulowak, arriving at say…10:00, look at the jobsite, go back to Aleknagik and be in the air heading home by no later than 5:00 PM, stop for fuel in Illiamna along the way but still arriving home by 11:00 PM or midnight at the latest. A long day to be sure, but doable.
I got in the air by 4:00AM and had flown through Lake Clark pass with good weather until I got to the Nushagak River near the village of Ekwok. The weather here was much lower but I flew on, knowing I was pretty close to Aleknagik. As I got closer to Aleknagik, the weather got even lower and I was getting low on fuel. I didn’t have enough fuel to go anywhere if I got to Aleknagik and couldn’t land so I turned around and flew back to Ekwok and put some gas in the plane that I had brought with me.
I finally landed at Aleknagik at around 9:00AM; Later than I wanted but still not too bad. I asked around to find my jet boat driver and located his office down on the lake. He wasn’t there yet but would be there shortly so I waited for a half hour or so until he showed up. Unfortunately, he was having trouble with his Jet boat so he would fly me to the Agulowak in his Turbine Otter for the same price. That was great! I would make up for some lost time right?
We landed at Agulowak and I was introduced to the homeowner and his friends that were there for fishing and the first thing he wanted to do was take me fishing for Arctic Char, after all, this place is one of the hottest fishing spots on earth. I was on a mission to estimate a job so I really didn’t want to fish at the time. I had several projects all over the State and I didn’t have time to smell the roses, at least not at that time. We went fishing.
The Char were hitting so hard that you couldn’t keep them off your hook. I’m not a sport fisherman so I was really doing nothing to entice the fish on my hook but you literally couldn’t keep them off. I politely reeled in fish after fish, all the while my mind was on getting back to camp to do my estimating.
(to be continued)
"An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest."