Nelchina/Tazlina River float hunt?
Has anyone done this trip in early September? From the Little Nelchina to the Nelchina, then from the Nelchina to Tazlina Lake, and then on to the Tazlina River?
I've read a fair amount on this trip, but nothing that involved hunting or floating in the late summer/early fall. A buddy and I were wanting to take my 16' NRS cataraft on this trip in search of a moose. I'm no stranger to multi-day float trips on class II/III rivers. From what I've read, the Nelchina and Talzina can be both class II/III. We'll have a small 4hp outboard to help maneuver us around the edge of the lake.
I guess my biggest concern would be water levels. So any advice would be appreciated. I just want to have my ducks in a row before floating a new river system.
Never done it that late, but it should be very low water. If there's been recent rain the Little Nelchina should be up, but otherwise you will be dragging your boat in several places. The big Nelchina is probably far less sensitive to rain, and with cooler weather the glacier won't be contributing much, so low and slow. Plan on more than one long day to get from the confluence with the Little Nelchina to the lake. Same will likely be true of the Tazlina.
Rapids should be reduced to some rock dodging on both the Big Nelchina and Tazlina. Normally, the Tazlina has only one section that could be called class III, and only at high water. For the most part the only real hazard is broaching on the occasional rock because you were lulled to sleep. It's a pretty simple float except for the sweepers along the Little Nelchina.
The other issue is the possibility of a glacier dammed lake releasing while you're camping along the Big Nelchina. There is a surprising number of those along Nelchina Glacier.