Ultima Thule Alaska Lodge
Sunlight streams in through a wall of glass. You stretch out on a bearskin rug, breathe deep the smell of wood smoke, and gaze out at the vast expanse of water, the mountains towering over Alaska's Chitina river.
Your luxurious cabin is nestled on a hillside alive with flowers and the Alaskan lodge's abundant vegetable garden. A river-rock path winds along the hillside to the next cabin, and up the slope to the main lodge.
After a long afternoon of exploring, hiking, skiing, fishing or flying, you make your way up to the wilderness lodge's wood-fired sauna. The tendrils of fragrant smoke billowing out of the chimney tell you the staff has lit the fire and everything is waiting for you.
Your group dines that evening at the main lodge, in a spacious, sunlit room. A long banquet table is surrounded by tall chairs. Outside the mountain peaks are already gilded pink.
A moment later the windows steam up, and the sky becomes a blur of pink and gold: in the kitchen, Donna has pulled out a rack of fresh-baked bread. “It’s kind of old fashioned,” Donna says, “cooking all day. But I love it.”
Donna and the cooking crew create their dishes from the bounty of the wilderness around you. Every meal features fresh Alaskan game and fish, the harvest of fresh vegetables from the Claus family garden, fresh-baked bread and pastries from the ovens. You drink freshly-melted glacier water from the cistern.
You trade stories and snapshots of the day’s adventures, all the while knowing that right now, you are living the perfect moment. You have been unbelievably – perhaps unexpectedly – transformed by the spectacularness of this Alaskan wilderness .
Everyone at the table has been changed today – each of you in your own way. But you all agree on one thing: no matter how stunning your photos, no matter how vivid your stories, no one who is not here, right now, will ever truly understand what you experienced today.
You turn to Paul. “What are we doing tomorrow?”
He shrugs, smiles, and nods his head toward the windows. At that moment, the moon begins to rise over the mountains. "We'll just have to see what tomorrow brings."
You are immersed in nature. Surrounded by tall evergreens, the smell of woodsmoke, the radiant glow of sunlight on the mountains, eagles and songbirds.
Ultima Thule Lodge is nestled on a hillside between the towering McColl ridge – a 7,000 feet vertical rock face – and a 3-mile-wide stretch of the Chitina River. “The only way to get here,” says lodge keeper, guide and pilot Paul Claus, “is to fly with us.”