The Cost of Doing Business in the Wilderness of Alaska

Running an Alaskan Fishing Lodge

“OUCH!!!! HOW MUCH?” I say at the fuel delivery pilot as he hands me the bill. Everything coming to Talaheim Lodge has to be flown in by small aircraft…gas is no exception. We’ve been having most of our fuel flown in by a local air carrier who owns a very large fuel tank, which he sticks in his plane….a flying bomb. When I fly out my Cessna with a light load, I usually top off the tanks and syphon 50 gallons from its tanks into a 50-gallon drum. Remember Mark, two short sucks or you’ll be burping up aviation fuel for a week. When busy, we can burn between 50 and 100 gallons of aviation gas per day…the cost is $7.50 per gallon….do the math…another ouch!

Talaheim Lodge is "off the grid." No roads, no electricity, no nothing! BUT, nothing is actually something as it means that Talaheim Lodge is in the wilderness of Alaska, a special place for visiting tourists. We must supply everything that the standard business in the US expects. We’ve run miles of electrical wires, a mile of water lines, sewers, built a runway, not to mention nine buildings and much more.

Traveling back 75 years ago before aviation, people used to venture across this part of Alaska in the winter over snow and frozen rivers. Due to the many swamps and major river systems, traveling by horse was impossible. Our long time neighbor, "Trapper Jim," walked 15 miles to see the nearest beautiful young lady…a journey that took about 14 hours. Youthful desire paid off…they’ve been married now for 35 years and raised four children. In this busy fast paced world, air travel is the only sensible means of travel for our business.

Running a first class Alaskan fishing lodge in the wilderness is expensive. Talented hardworking experienced guides, cooks, and pilots don’t come cheap. An Alaskan fishing lodge owner always wants to see his clients get the best fishing possible and for this reason Talaheim Lodge owns two helicopters enabling us to fly clients to local tributaries inaccessible by other means of transportation. Helicopters are very expensive to own, operate, and to maintain. You certainly don’t wish to be dropped off in the wilderness by a helicopter with a "Wal-Mart" maintenance schedule.

Try this experiment. Travel to a favorite vacation destination. Stay in a hotel serving three great meals a day, along with complimentary wines and draft beer in the evenings, then fly out each day in a helicopter on some sort of tour. Check out the costs, then multiply this cost by our wilderness faction and see what price you end up with. Talaheim Lodge might seem like a bargain?

Visiting an Alaskan fishing lodge in the wilderness is not for the weak in wallet. A first class fishing vacation in Alaska is worth every dollar.

Enjoy.

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