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Haynes Lake Story

Haynes Lake
in the shadow of Mount McKinley
a heavenly spot on this earth
a natural religious sanctuary

This caption was on a business-type card that Boyd Haynes once gave me. I first met Boyd in the early fifties. He was my vision of a true Alaskan sourdough. He spent over 50 years at Haynes Lake. In his eyes it was the most beautiful place on this earth.

Mostly, he led a solitary existence except when bush pilots dropped in or he made occasional trips to town for supplies. His closest neighbor was the Perky-pile mine some sixty miles east. The only way in or out was by float-plane in the summer or ski-plane in the winter. I was his supply pilot in the early and mid seventies. In the fall of 1977 I flew in his winter supplies, wished him well and told him I would see him in the spring. But, during the harsh weather of mid-winter, there were many times I couldn't help but think about his well being.

So, a few days before Christmas while the weather was clear and calm, I decided to fly out to Boyd's and maybe surprise him with his favorite dessert, chocolate ice cream and also bought some fresh fruit which I knew he would enjoy. I took off from lake Hood and had a beautiful flight through the Alaska Range and on to Haynes Lake.

Merry ChristmasI was a little startled when I first saw the lake. There were ridges all over the area I normally landed in. It could have been dangerous to land so I circled to get a better look. As I gained altitude over the lake I could see the ridges were actually huge letters carved in the snow. Each letter was about a half mile tall. They formed a message that stretched out across the lake for about two miles. Finally when I got high enough to take it all in, I could read MERRY CHRISTMAS. I was very impressed with all the effort that Boyd made to groom this giant message of good will to the world. So, I landed just below the words and sort of under-lined his message with my skis.

When I commented to Boyd about his message he said that maybe some one in a jet airplane flying over the pole would see it and get some Christmas cheer. Or maybe one of those satellites would take a picture of it and give someone a lift.

I gave him the fruit and ice cream, we talked for a spell and I prepaired to return to Anchorage. Boyd offered to pay for my gas, fruit and ice cream. I told him he had already paid for it with his message. When I took off, my skis made the second underline beneath his Merry Chistmas.

Boyd Haynes passed on in 1991, in solitude in his cabin at his beloved Haynes Lake. I love the spirit of Christmas because in everyone's face I always see a little bit of Boyd Haynes.

Merry Christmas to all,

John Cowdery's signature 
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