Saturday, July 14, 2012

6/19/12 Packrafting Eagle River - Briggs Bridge to JBER

It was my first float on this section of Eagle River; another trip with the meetup group. The water was running a bit high (4.94 ft./1.87 kfcs), but other than the campground rapids I heard this wasn't too rowdy. This river has a different character than other rivers I've packrafted. The murky water hid some of the obstacles beneath the surface, although I got better at picking them out the further I floated. The water was pretty easy until the campground rapids, but when we got there we all decided to portage. I'll wait to run them at a lower level. There wasn't a good risk to reward ratio that day, with a decent amount of water flowing beneath the strainers in the middle of the river. It looked too easy to get hung up on the wood if you flip. The rapids are only 15 seconds of floating anyways.

The water got more fun after the bridge and the class II waves got bigger and more constant. There were a couple spots where the river was churning pretty good. We had a couple swimmers (me included). One fellow swam for quite a ways before letting go of his boat so he could grab onto a log. Luckily we found it in the weir at the takeout. He had to walk 4 miles down the railroad tracks; there was a bit of searching involved but we finally all met up. My flip was pretty uneventful; just a self rescue. Glad I had some recent practice in the packrafting class.

If you want to do this float go the the link below. Resister for a permit and print it out. Bring the permit to the Visitors' Center at the Fort Richardson gate on the Glenn Highway. Show them your ID, registration and proof of insurance. You'll get a visitors' pass for your car. You can check into a particular area online or on the phone. It's best to ask the person at the gate for details.

 Campground Rapids

6/13/12 Packrafting Glacier Creek

I headed to Glacier Creek, with the meetup group this time. I knew the run and tried to hit all the waves, so there was no butt-scraping or getting hung up on rocks this time. We hiked in from the hotel and ended at the airport. It was a good hike to avoid a car shuttle. 0.68 kcfs/26.39 ft.

There was some snow left on the trail even though it's near sea level in June.

Friday, July 13, 2012

6/8-9/12 Packrafting on the Denali Highway - Seattle Creek & Clearwater Creek

The plan was to float Brushkana Creek (off the Denali Highway) and Windy Creek near Cantwell, but when we arrived to the Brushkana Campground the creek looked like a raging torrent; not the splashy class II boulder dodging we'd heard about. We scouted about a mile of the creek and found a high volume of powerful water, big waves, and no places to eddy out. The creek was muddy tan and the rocks were mostly covered. It seems the rain over the past couple weeks made the creeks more than we bargained for, so as a plan B we floated Seattle Creek. It had some fun waves at first, but mellowed out quick. We took time to scout, as there were several strainers. It was mostly flat water once we reached the Nenana, so we had to drink a couple beers to bring the fun level up. We figured Windy Creek would look similar to the Brushkana so we scrapped that float.

I was curious to drive the rest of the Denali Highway and check out future packrafting possibilities. I hadn't been down the whole road before. There was some amazing scenery and I can't wait to get back. Itching to raft some more, I hiked up Clearwater Creek 4 miles and did a solo float back to the bridge. It was mostly class I with a couple class II waves. 

The Brushkana looks scary.

 Seattle Creek doesn't.

 Help! *merly a dramatization

 The Nenana

 Highway on an!


 A calf began following me...

 Clearwater Creek

 MacLaren River

 Tangle Lakes area

5/31/12 First Float on Glacier Creek!

I floated Glacier Creek for the first time. I was a little nervous not having floated it before. I've heard there is a class III wave in the run below the tram, but I didn't see anything above class II. Overall it was a pretty exciting float for some people that haven't seen lots of whitewater yet. There was one significant sweeper we portaged, although it has since been moved or floated away. We played it pretty safe and scouted a few times trying to spot possible wood in the creek. I ended up going around the bigger stuff only to get stuck on rocks. At the current water level (0.68 kcfs/26.39 ft) it's best to hit all the waves. We went from the tram to the Glacier Highway bridge in Girdwood which took about an hour.