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Thread: Packrafting reports from Eagle River this year?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default Packrafting reports from Eagle River this year?

    I've got a couple of days on my hands and I was thinking of going up past the ford site from the Nature Center and exploring around the terminus of Eagle Glacier. I'm kicking around bringing my packraft, so I was curious as to if anyone here has floated that stretch of Eagle River this year. I'll be solo and I don't have experience on this stretch of Eagle River, so I'm not sure of the wisdom of taking this on without knowing more about the number of sweepers I should expect and such. Any reports or advice would be much appreciated.

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    Member Mkay's Avatar
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    I just took a 2 day PackRafting class, which included basic stuff and running a bit of the upper Matanuska. I held a bunch of delusions about this activity. First, plan on swimming, so you need a dry suit. Second, solo packrafting on any type of river with rocks or fast current appears to invite disaster, who is gonna rescue you? I like to learn, but did not like being taught. What type of packraft do you have? Good luck.
    My child was inmate of the month at Mat-Su pre-trial Correctional facility.

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    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    So I'm a bit confused B. Is a packraft in you're future or not?

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Troutbum View Post
    So I'm a bit confused B. Is a packraft in you're future or not?
    I've already got one - an Alpacka Denali Llama - but haven't used it for hunting yet. As for swimming and such, I've thus far only used it in mild splashy water and find that it is actually amazingly stable when loaded with a bit of weight up front. I plan to take a course or two, but I also want to be able to use it without the dry suit on rivers that are appropriately tame (and have done so numerous times).

    I was hoping to be out the door a couple of hours ago, but this incessant rain has me tinkering around the house instead. The packraft/hunting trip combo is likely out for this weekend, but I'll give it another go soon enough.

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    Man, I do not think it be wise to raft that section of the river without someone there with you. I have seen that section of the river quite a bit from the bank and it looks like a fun gnarly run with some friends.

    Check out youtube and search for "eagle river pack rafting There are some videos on there with some guys pack rafting the river with some nasty fun rapids. Look out for Echo Bend!

    I have never floated above the nature center, but the low water and sweepers on the lower part of the river takes the fun out of it on my one man cata-raft till you get to campground rapids and float down to Bravo Bridge.
    Hate America??....then get the Hell Out!!!

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shoedawg View Post
    Man, I do not think it be wise to raft that section of the river without someone there with you. I have seen that section of the river quite a bit from the bank and it looks like a fun gnarly run with some friends.

    Check out youtube and search for "eagle river pack rafting There are some videos on there with some guys pack rafting the river with some nasty fun rapids. Look out for Echo Bend!

    I have never floated above the nature center, but the low water and sweepers on the lower part of the river takes the fun out of it on my one man cata-raft till you get to campground rapids and float down to Bravo Bridge.
    I didn't end up making the trip, but I certainly appreciate the advice. I'm well aware of the rapids below Echo Bend and would plan on taking out at that point and hiking the last 3 miles to the Nature Center. I've used my packraft quite a bit in the stretch below Mile 7 Eagle River Road and have never had the slightest problem. I know the water is swifter upriver, but from the many reports I've read it's a totally doable section of river other than changing sweepers each year. Still, it's always a good idea to have someone along, no doubt. I used the crazy amount of rain as an excuse to not go, but packrafting an unknown section of river alone was in the back of my mind.

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    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    I've already got one - an Alpacka Denali Llama - but haven't used it for hunting yet. As for swimming and such, I've thus far only used it in mild splashy water and find that it is actually amazingly stable when loaded with a bit of weight up front. I plan to take a course or two, but I also want to be able to use it without the dry suit on rivers that are appropriately tame (and have done so numerous times).

    I was hoping to be out the door a couple of hours ago, but this incessant rain has me tinkering around the house instead. The packraft/hunting trip combo is likely out for this weekend, but I'll give it another go soon enough.
    Oops. I was actually talking to Mkay (first name Bob). Sorry Brian.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AK Troutbum View Post
    Oops. I was actually talking to Mkay (first name Bob). Sorry Brian.
    Ah! Got it. Good question, given his experience in the class.... What about it, Bob? Did the class convince you that you need one, or did it have the opposite effect?

    I just got back from a leisurely afternoon float after a 4 mile hike and a short bushwhack down to the river. 'Twas good for the soul.

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    Default Upper E.R.

    You can do it. However, if you have not taken a structured class, on paddling skills and rescue, don't cheat yourself.

    One of my best investments was a whitewater rescue class I took several years ago with Nova River Runners.

    A couple of folks did make some good points about being alone. I generally boat a grade or two below my ability when going alone, which I do enjoy, but I am proficient at self rescue and have done it many times.
    On the other note, the best advice for a swimmer is this; stay in the river until you have a safe wood free bank to get out on. Never, never, try and get out on those muddy, slick, wood infested banks, this was the cause for the last boater death on Eagle River boater, in class II.
    Personally, the bears up Eagle River worry me more than the river, especially those big brown ones.

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    Member Mkay's Avatar
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    Brian, the class consisted of 4 parts over 2 days. Part 1; orientation and basic stuff on Wasilla lake..doable for me. Part 2, packrafting down the lower Matanuska via Chikaloon crk.. more of a challenge. Day 2, part 3 survival, swimming, and rescue.. in the Matanuska..still dooable. Part 4. packrafting the upper Matanuska via Caribou crk..OK..this is where the sphincter starts to tighten up. Got down Caribou crk OK, then got in the Matanuska about a mile ..OK. tHEN.. NOT SO GOOD. Went around something called the Lion's Head, stopped to scout.. big boulders, fast scary water, I opt out and walk around that part. 2 of 6 students have trouble, one swimmer and one torn raft. I ferry down to an eddy and the pack raft gets fixed. Hour later we head out.. more scary water..2-3 swimmers this time (not me for some reason). More scary water.. me and 2 kids walk around. Back in again..2-3 swimmers. Now 5 of 7 of us are walking. Wondering can we walk out. The instructor says the water gets better..it does..finally out 5 hours later for a 2 hour trip. Sore as hell. Learned a lot. If I buy a packraft am inclined toward a BayLee 2, self-bailer w/rowing frame. Hope that helps.
    My child was inmate of the month at Mat-Su pre-trial Correctional facility.

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Interesting stuff, for sure. I want to take a class and want to know what to do if I get in over my head, but man...taking a basically beginners class through Lion's Head? That's some pretty big water there.

    The self-bailers with frames are certainly nice and have larger capacities, but we were really looking at weight primarily in buying our rafts. If I could have a second one, though...

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    Got my packraft this winter but due to work and family plans I have not even got it wet yet. I was supposed to try Portage memorial day weekend but the snowed in campground sent us back to Eagle River.

    Brian you mentioned the raft being much more stable with weight in the front, how much weight are you talking about? I weight about 180 and picked up the unrugged explorer (also planned to do float hunting with it).

    Steve

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Steve - I weigh about 170, and I find that even as little as 20 pounds really makes a difference in leveling the boat out and making it track better. More weight seems better to me, but if I have an empty pack I'll toss in at least 4-5 decent sized rocks.

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    Default Weight not needed in front

    Move your seat and backrest forward, don't use rocks, this will help..

    Quote Originally Posted by alaskariverguy View Post
    Brian you mentioned the raft being much more stable with weight in the front, how much weight are you talking about? I weight about 180 and picked up the unrugged explorer (also planned to do float hunting with it).

    Steve

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