Lake Clark Air flying over Little Mulchatna River. (C) Rypix.com

Lake Clark Air Over Little Mulchatna Cabin

Lake Clark Air flying over Little Mulchatna River. (C) Rypix.com

The familiar Lake Clark Air plane makes a landing onto Fishtrap Lake, in Lake Clark National Park, Alaska. Here, it is making a landing through the valley of the Little Mulchatna River as it begins at the legendary spot on Fishtrap Lake. It was here that John Denver penned the famous words from the song “Alaska And Me”:


I was born in a cabin on Little Mulchatna
Raised in hard times but I had a good life
From the first time I flew with my father a-singing
I knew that I’d wind up a bush pilot’s wife....


We sleep near the sound of the slow running river
And wake up most mornings to a drizzling rain
And we live every day like the first or the last one
With nothing to lose and Heaven to gain


Indeed, the Little Mulchatna gets its fair share of rain. The line about winding up a bush pilot’s wife is from the perspective of Wendy Ramstead, who married Stuart Ramstead, a bush pilot. Ramstead crash landed on Fishtrap Lake on Christmas Day, 1964 (or 1963). The wreckage of his plane is still there, today. For two days,he remained near the crash location, setting up a campfire. His family sent a plane out to the location, found him, and he returned home, safely. Later, Stuart returned to the area, eventually homesteading the property. He set up a lodge, known as The Little Mulchatna Lodge, serving visitors for decades.

In the mid-1970’s singer/artist John Denver visited the lodge, and gradually fell in love with the location. Photos of the lodge and lakeside surroundings are in at least one of his tour books. Denver is purported to have visited the lodge some 27 times, and filmed the initial pilot of “Let This Be A Voice” at the main lodge.

In the late 1990’s, John Denver made plans to purchase the lodge from Stuart Ramstead. However, the plans were never finalized, due to Denver’s untimely death from a plane crash in Monterey, California.

Interestingly enough, Denver’s death eventually became the impetus for a new owner to purchase the Little Mulchatna Lodge. Businessman Jeff Schendel, a long time admirer of Denver, found out about the lodge from a PBS television airing of “Let This Be A Voice”, and contacted Ramstead about visiting the lodge. Schendel traveled to Alaska, then to Lake Clark, and to the LML ( Little Mulchatna Lodge), and fell in love with the place and scenic location. The two eventually came to the conclusion that the sale should continue, and that Jeff should be the new owner. To date, Jeff has kept the cabins and lodge current, and the place still abounds with the ever present beauty that John sang about and loved.

Rory Young Photography

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Rory
Rory
Rory Young is the owner of RyPix and a photographer around Denver, Colorado, and the majestic Rocky Mountains. Whether photographing the Eiffel on the Seine, or evading 1,100lb Alaskan grizzlies to capture rugged mountain vistas, he strives to carry quality and passion from the lens to the print. His unique style shows, whether in portraiture, landscape, or event photography.

1 Comment

  1. Hi Rory,
    Just came across your article on social media. Very nice! I wonder if Jeff knows Stu Passed March 3rd. I’ve known Stu and Wendy for the 40 yrs I’ve lived in Alaska. My partner use to do all Stu’s airplane work for years. I have owned the business Alaska Wing Covers for 30 yrs and have made Stu’s covers for years. Tyson and I went to Stu’s Celebration of Life yesterday at Lake Hood in Anchorage. I have always loved John Denver, even though I never got to meet him at the lodge. I was saddened by our loss of him, as well as Stu. My partner Tyson, bought Stu’s Cessna 185 this week. It’s in pretty bad shape and he is going to totally rebuild it, mainly so Stu’s memory can continue to soar the majestic skies of Alaska, and for Stu’s friends, which are Tyson’s as well. I’m sure Tyson will repaint it in the original paint scheme. If you know Jeff, please let him know just in case he hasn’t heard the news. You can go to Alaska Daily News and search his obituary.

    Warm Regards,
    Linda Drummond
    Alaska Wing Covers

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