Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 5

August 23rd, 2010 by David Leland Hyde Leave a reply »

Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log: June 14-September 14, 1971 by Ardis Hyde

(Ardis, David and Philip Hyde in Their Camper. Continued from the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 4.”)

A Preview of Future Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Logs…

Introduction and Preview of Blog Posts To Come by David Leland Hyde

Looking Back At Johns Hopkins Inlet, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, 1971 by Philip Hyde. A further preview of coming blog posts in the series Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Logs 1971 by Ardis Hyde: Ardis, David and Philip Hyde were dropped by float plane on the spit below Reid Glacier on an arm of Glacier Bay called Reid Inlet where they camped in their orange tent in the heart of the vast Alaskan wilderness near the Reid Inlet cabin for two weeks without any sign of civilization except for a few distant passing cruise ships…

(See the photograph full screen Click Here.)

The other day in my storage in Dad’s darkroom, I found a business card size “license” fallen down into my childhood postcard collection. It is yellow with a black border and a gray watermark behind the lettering. The watermark says “I. P. A.” across the middle and around the circle it says “International Puddle Jumper Association.” Across the top of the card are these words, “Official PUDDLE JUMPER Pilot License” and under that, “This Certifies That ‘David Hyde’ (Pilot’s Name) is licensed to fly PUDDLE JUMPERS and learn all flight skills. Licensee and his/her craft may be called upon to defend the country against extraterrestrial aggression.” Below that is a line that says “Pilot’s Signature” under it and my signature. All of this will be explained in a future Alaska Travel Log blog post…. (On his blog “In the Field” Richard Wong also has an excellent series of blog posts on his recent travels to Alaska. For example see his blog post, “Wildlife Photography Ethics.“)

Part Five: Wrangell to Petersburg, Alaska by Ardis Hyde

June 26, 1971: Glad to see some breaks in the sky and faint sunlight early in the day. Bought a half pound of fresh pink shrimp from the cannery right from the man loading them into cans to be frozen. Philip was taking 2 ¼ photographs of boats, talking to harbor employees and a boat owner and fisherman. We hiked along the breakwater again while David walked on the top of the wall all the way to end and back. Next he built his own rock breakwater in the upper beach while Philip took photographs of the colorful lichen on the rocks. Previously he had taken a picture of a grown-over rock wall that was perhaps a tomb wall. There was a tombstone nearby with a low relief Indian design carving.  It was “to a niece of an old chief.” We noticed Chief Shakes grave earlier as we drove by it. The fun of this town lies in the surprise reminders of the “old days,” Totems in surprising places. One by the Standard Bulk Distributor’s place, one at the old cemetery. David and Philip took me back to the City Park to show me a Totem pole they discovered nearby of the “One Legged Fisherman” prowling around in the undergrowth. From there we came across headstones and rotting wood grainy fences. Further on we came to a most eerie scene: moss hanging from broadleaf trees, a few big spruce and in stages of disintegration were suddenly several fenced graves, some with wooden headstones, some with stone headstones. Philip made photographs and we continued on to find this part of the cemetery adjoined the part seen from the highway, but appeared to be older. This area had been allowed to grow over with trees and undergrowth. All the wooden grave markers were molding and rotting into the wet ground.

Back into town to buy ice cream for dinner desert. Looked at books at the drugstore. David seized on the idea of buying me a gift, which was a secret between he and Philip. They bought me a toothbrush and David presented it to me when we returned to the camper. Parked out on the filled ground between the mill and the main dock for dinner. We watched the Princess Patricia come in to dock. The high school band was again playing a big fanfare welcome. Numerous children lined up as vendors of seashells, garnets, and knick knacks. The cruise ship passengers  descended and bought up the children’s wares. Then it was time to check in for our ferry. While Philip drove to the docks, I visited the local museum one last time. The old Wrangell photos were the most interesting. The ferry Taku came in right on time and by 9:15 pm we were under way. David was already sound asleep and Philip carried him up to the sleeping lounge where he continued to sleep uninterrupted until we arrived at Petersburg about three hours later. Philip and I stayed up. Philip showered, then we talked with a young man on his way from Ketchikan where he had worked in the Georgia Pacific-FMC Pulp Plant. We stayed up and out on deck for most of the Wrangell Narrows which we passed through from 11 pm to midnight. The locals call it “Pinball Alley” and we found it was aptly named as the Taku slalomed through the red and green lights. The land was close but the features were not clear in the twilight. Arrived at Petersburg about 12:30 am. Into the dark over a gravel road to Sandy Beach Recreation Area which allows camping.

Sunday, June 27, 1971:  We woke up to the sounds of birds, especially ravens in great numbers…

Continued in the blog post, “Denali National Park, Alaska Travel Log 6.”



  1. Steve Sieren says:

    David, you had the pilot license?

  2. Hi Steve, thanks for clarifying that. The beginning of the post is a little chopped up. I have cleaned it up now. Yes, I had the “pilot’s” license, wink wink.

  3. Richard Wong says:

    That sounds like quite the trip, going to Denali for three months. Have you been back to Alaska as an adult?

  4. Hi Richard, thank you for the comment. The whole trip was 3-3 1/2 months or so. I forget how long we were in Denali National Park, probably 3-4 weeks. That trip in 1971, when we celebrated my 6th birthday in Alaska was the one and only time I have ever been up there.

  5. pj says:

    Once again, an interesting read. I love the abstract patterns in the water.

  6. Thank you, PJ, for Mom on the writing. Regarding the photograph, a number of people said that they have never seen water boat wake patterns like that in any water “landscape.” The light reflection and patterns go different directions and create a light-dark reversal. A large print of this photograph is enthralling to examine carefully.

  7. Steve Sieren says:

    It’s a good a good the Russians didn’t invade Alaska because that would of been more likely to happen before any aliens showed up.

  8. Hi Steve, I guess I was only “licensed” to defend against aliens from outer space and not those from across the Bering Strait.

  9. Derrick says:

    Love that pic…. and the stories are always enjoyable. What’s the schedule on that book!?

  10. Uh oh! Um, er… thanks for asking Derrick. That is a good question, asked with a leaders’ mindset. I will answer as soon as I wrap up the portion of the book that is dependent on other people. Right now, among 7,000 other pressing issues, I am in a race against time to interview as many of the people who knew Dad as I can, regardless of where they fit in the book. This portion is finishing up. Once I get it done, I will set up a schedule for the writing, several chapters of which are already complete. Also there were several other major factors I have been working on, the very biggest of which just today fell into place. We settled a complaint I filed against the University of California regarding Dad’s archive. The matter has been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties and that is all I am allowed to say. It will remove a huge drain on my life. As you know, I make regular blog posts here that will, in many cases, become parts of the book too. The wheels are in motion. I have had several offers from publishers, but I also have a friend who represent writers in Hollywood and has already introduced me to a top New York agent. Please keep fingers crossed. It is not a photography book that also happens to have text. It is a MEMOIR with photographs.

  11. Derrick says:

    Sounds great, best of luck on the project. It sounds like a fitting memorial to your dad.

  12. Great article. That picture of your dad’s is wonderful. It is now one of my favorites.


  13. Hi Sharon. I can see how you would like the wave photograph. Thanks for reading.

Leave a Reply