Wounded Warriors Kevin McMahon (left) and David Guzman pause for a photo before fishing in Alaska.
It’s day five of Nissan’s Project Titan Wounded Warrior Project and the enthusiasm of the vets and public support for them has been fantastic. The day began with the roar of an aircraft engine as Dave Guzman and Kevin McMahon squeezed into the back seat of Casey Long’s Cessna. Soon we were skimming along the surface of Lake Lucile like some speedy skipping stone and then off for a quick silver salmon safari before the events of the day began.
“This is something I’ve always wanted to do,” said McMahon. “I’m loving it.”
Weather for the trip was marginal as rain fell and dense cloud cover kept us close to the deck. In fact, Long signaled that the river for silvers was fogged in, but he knew of another nearby lake for northern pike. The skilled pilot dropped the craft on the water with a landing as soft as a pillow and we were soon casting from the pontoons and small boats stored along the shore.
This was Lake Alexander with fly-in access only. The pike in the small body of water were so aggressive that they have completely eliminated the salmon that used to spawn there. “Game and Fish is netting pike and encouraging the public to catch them all,” Long said.
Guzman was the first to hook up and brought in a small pike while standing on the pontoon of the plane. Aaron Rock, social media director for the Wounded Warrior Project, caught the fish of the day with a 10 -pound pike that was destined for the dinner table.
We had to be back at the lodge by 11:00 a.m. so the fishing was brief, but the adventure high. Casey Long, of Airventures Alaska, donated his services for the trip and the vets were indeed grateful.
The morning’s events were awe-inspiring from the air, yet the afternoon held a quest for a small lake deep in the mountains. Just getting there would be an adventure.
Mike Flowers and a member of the Alaska Four Wheeling Club offered their services to guide the vets to the remote spot and to give the new Titan truck a thorough testing.
Five other members of the club would help transport crew members who filmed the event for a video to be released next month when the project is complete.
I rode in Mike’s super-high 1984 Chevy Suburban (shown here), a rig as functional as it’s awesome appearance. “We’ll use this truck to hunt moose next week. It allows me to cross a river where other vehicles can’t,” he said.
Several of the other four-wheel rigs had snorkels, which allows them to cross rivers and streams with water up to the windows.
The ride up the mountain was like riding a bull for 8,000 seconds as we went over boulders, drove through mud holes, and squeezed between trees. I wondered if the mildly modified Nissan Titan could keep up with these giant rigs, yet it towed its trailer and arrived at the lake first in line.
The exact details of the project will be released soon, but I can add that there was a fish dinner at the end.
You can follow the events of Project Titan on Facebook at the Wounded Warrior Project and Nissan Trucks pages.