Cast and Carve in the land of the midnight sun
Alaska! Has a state ever announced itself with such feeling and attitude? Take it a step further, cause you are going to become fast friends and refer to it simply as “AK”!
Heli skiing is the crème de la crème for any skier. It is what we all aspire toward, but until we really know that it is within our skill set, it stays just a fantasy.
The Tordrillo Mountain Lodge is the place where the fantasies of skiers from intermediate to expert become a reality.
You land late at night at the Anchorage airport, which I must say is a taxonomist’s wet dream. Stuffed dead animals abound. The next morning a float plane arrives to take you out to the Lodge. The scenery is spectacular and your face is glued to the window. The Lodge sits on a quiet lake; you land and are greeted by rosy faced outgoing campers being forced on the plane, hating to leave. You are met by the Team which includes Olympic Gold Medalist Tommy Moe and World Class Mountain guides Greg Harms and Mike Overcast. Stars that they are, it is the rest of the team that make you feel like you’ve finally come home after a long absence. The lodge manager, the beautiful Bret Gilleland from Georgia (aka Bret the Bearslayer)(sorry, another story!). She is the sexy den mother of your childhood dreams. Within hours she knows what to put in your coffee and how you take your martini. An FYI, at Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, they only chill Martinis with Glacial ice. Brendan Nolan, the chef, wins you over with the first bite that goes into your mouth. The fact that he is a gregarious guitar playing, singer songwriter doesn’t even come into the equation yet at this point. TML is adult summer camp at its very best. The other great thing is that cell phones don’t work, the internet is scattered, so work must be put aside and you aren’t expected to phone home.
I would call myself a “skier” more than a “fisherchic”, but there is an art form that any woman can appreciate when it comes to heli fishing. First of all, they have the latest and most fashionable waders, cute ones that you can easily accessorize. Next, the team is always there to help with any critical wine selections and lastly, once you hook into a King, you can never go back. And if the fish don’t seem to be biting, there are always firearms to play with.
Oh, and then there is the skiing. Corn skiing is one of my favorite varietals. The guides are experts at the perfect serving temperatures and at what time each slope aspect becomes creamy delicious. This kind of skiing makes you feel like a rock star and a yogi, all at the same time. You are at one with the universe and imaginary fans are applauding like crazy. There is no way to “catch your limit” on turns and you ski to your hearts content. The other amazing experience about skiing in AK is that the sun never sets. Our trip coincided with the Summer equinox, the longest day of the year and we celebrated and savored this night like Gods. We finished skiing just before midnight and found a rock outcropping to make our home overlooking the Alaskan landscape. The girls cracked bottles of Dom and the boys sipped 30 year old Macallan’s. Though our dinner of Alaskan King Crab was more than sumptuous, Brendan felt the need to pack us little treats and goodies to go with our beverage of choice. We basked in the joy of the moment for hours and hours. The absolute perfection of the night will be hard to surpass in a lifetime.
Back campside, there are always activities for the overachievers like stand up paddling around the lake, skeetshooting, jacuzziing, and heli hiking on glaciers.
I promise, after one visit to Tordrillo Mountain Lodge, you will become a camper for life. Oh, and if you do go out heli hiking, please be sure to bring home some glacial ice for the martinis of the less motivated guests!
Photos Courtesy of Greg Harms We set off to heli ski again after dinner to celebrate the Summer Solstice with
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