I was able to take a packrafting class over Memorial Day weekend. It's usually a 2 day class but we got an extra day...cool! We started with a video in the morning, and headed up to Byers Lake in the afternoon. We did some flipping and self rescues in the lake; it was a bit chilly with some remaining ice in it.
The next day we floated Byers Creek. It mostly a mellow float, but we scouted and ran a couple sets of rapids, floated through alter tunnels, and dodged many boulders. I even managed to flip my boat unintentionally; I hung on to my gear though.
We headed South to Willow Creek the next day after staying in Talkeetna for the night. We did a run below Shirleytown Bridge and did throw rope drills, practiced swimming, and flipping. This is some really important stuff to practice BEFORE floating whitewater. If you don't know what to do or how to react it's very possible to lose gear and/or get seriously hurt. The final leg of the class was floating Redgate to Shirleytown. It started out class III with the rest being class II. There were lots of fun rapids followed by mellow stretches to recover if necessary. We entered and exited eddys on 90 degree bends and checked out a surfing wave.
It was a great course put on by Jim Gonski of the Alaska Kayak Academy. I'd recommend it to every packrafter. I definitely feel more comfortable in whitewater and my ability to assess when I'm over my head.
Most of us ran this short section of rapids.
Gearing up for Willow Creek.
The group scouting the rapids.
Gates from a slalom race the day prior.