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Amal Ajmi says “Happy Spring!” from Alaska

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Hi all, spring has FINALLY come to the interior and with the lengthening days comes………..you guessed it, SKI flying!!! I am very new to this area of aviation (20 hours), but found a primo tie-down spot this year that allows me easy pull-in and pull-out capabilities. My 5’2” 115 lb., little person frame, (having no issues moving my bird around on tundra tires in the summer) is constantly pondering why I become so weeny during snow season…..it finally dawned me….skis are a little DIFFERENT!

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Anyway, have been able to put more hours on skis this year and just came back from my first weekend trip up north. Figured I would share.

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My friend has a homestead just north of the Yukon River. I have flown in a few times in the summer for a day of fly-fishing or a weekend getaway. This year I decided to try some winter fun. I also thought it might be nice to bring in sweet treats, fuel and some building materials for my buddy, the homesteader, in exchange for past delights from his summer garden here in town.

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First things first, the flying was amazing. Had to wait a day to get in due to low visibility, but both in and out flights were spectacular. Some pictures while I flew about show you my definition of SEVERE CLEAR. The White Mountains were boldly bedecked in sparkly winter attire. It is amazing and humbling to realize while you are flying around, just how small you are……I was always looking for critters, trying to affirm that I was not the only life in that big space, sometimes you forget in winter when things seem asleep beneath the white blanket of snow. Moose tracks here and there, but nothing popped out this trip. I tried to imagine the chickadees and grosbeaks flying around below me going about their lives…Only when I landed and shut the engine down did I truly hear them along with the local gray jays and ravens.

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Landing!!!! Yes, am sure I am not THE ONLY one to make this mistake, but I was fortunate in that it was easily corrected, fun and immediately laughable!!! Laying tracks is fun, and I love doing it. Unfortunately, I have only practiced this technique 2 years running in an empty, lightly-weighted bird. What I didn’t realize was that I was so heavy this time and that the snow was pretty warm…..yup you guessed it, one minute I was floating along, the next, whoomp!!! Hmmmmmm, ok, I shut her down and was immediately grateful it was not worse.

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My buddy was watching me in the nicely stamped down tie down spot he had made for my bird, came over and said “why ‘d you do that?” Speechless, I just said “HI”. Anyway, we dug her out and snow-shoed a nice packed path to the tie down spot. I started her up, moved her over, tied her down, put all her covers on and tapped her cowling to say “Thanks for being patient with me”. It took about 2 hours, and man was I hungry after that! Dinner was chicken, veggies and pasta with homemade pesto that I made for him last fall. Yum-eeee.

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The next day we snow-shoed a nice packed trip for the bird to use when I left. Lots of fun and my buddy’s dogs (he has 35+, yes he is a musher) decided to help out. Another 2 hours and we were happy with the results and then went off to have some fun looking around the  homestead. The packed strip was fabulous the next day when I left.

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There is something so calming about being away from the road system. The quiet is so profound, I hear my heart beat. The world slows down, no phones, no stress, no nothing…… The stars twinkle so brightly, dancing in a deep black sky seemingly happy to have a clean unpolluted canvas to shine in….Sounds travels differently, you can actually hear a jay fly and perch nearby on a branch, watching you, hoping you have some sort of food you are willing to “accidently” drop. You hear wildness; you feel it, if you try just a little…..

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My favorite thing is to wake up in the middle of the night to wolves howling, but I will take a dog team any day. It is so seemingly eerily sad…but a shared contemplation of the feeling lessens the rawness somehow……in that all the dogs engage in this activity…all sing……so maybe it is more a longing. Whichever it is, it is lovely, and the dogs gifted me with 2 nights of it!!!!

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I envy my buddy his seclusion. He has a simple life and I find it amazing. I left the homestead and flew back home, tied the bird down and covered her up, got caught in traffic on the drive home, turned on the lights, took a shower, nuked some dinner and then went to bed…something was absent……I missed the howls that night and woke up to my refrigerator hum turn off….rolled over and dreamed of going back up to the homestead next weekend. :)

Amal Ajmi, PA-11
Fairbanks, Alaska

Amal and Packed Bird

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