Results 1 to 7 of 7

Thread: N Fork Koyukuk float question

  1. #1
    New member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    4

    Default N Fork Koyukuk float question

    My wife & I are coming up in July of '13 for a weeklong float on the Koyukuk from The Gates back to Bettles. We've opted for this route to avoid the expense of having to hire a bush plane twice since we'll be able to float right back into Bettles. I'm sure plenty of others think that is a good idea too which leads to my question. What should my expectations be for solitude? Should I expect we'll be alone for a week, maybe see a few other folks during the trip or will I have to search for my own private gravel bar in the evenings?

    Thanks for any input.

  2. #2

    Default

    i'd be surprised if you see other groups, maybe at most one other party. Every time I've done that trip and the sister drainage to the east (tinyaguk) we've been entirely alone. Nice float, fantastic scenery, excellent river choice for the money.

    spend more time in the first 25 miles to get the most of your scenery, with lots of gravel bars for rock hounding and camping is superb.

    good luck,

    larry

  3. #3
    New member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Thanks Larry, that's exactly what I'm hoping for. I also appreciate the info about the first 25 miles. We'll definitely linger there for a while and make a couple of day hikes before continuing down the river.

    Daryn

  4. #4
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Arlington, VA
    Posts
    18

    Default

    FYI, I just got off of it on the 28th of June and we saw not a single footprint, let alone another party. That's a little earlier than your trip, so not sure if July is busier, but thought you would appreciate a report from late June. It's a lovely float. We took out at the MF Koyukuk gravel bar, but that of course requires a flight. Happy to answer any questions about this year's conditions. Have a great trip!

  5. #5
    New member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    4

    Default

    cpo,

    That's good to know, thanks. My wife & I talked a few days ago about moving the trip up to the 2nd half of June. I had read that July/August was the best time for a float trip and I wondered if the water levels were okay in June. How was the water while you were there?

    Daryn

  6. #6
    Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Arlington, VA
    Posts
    18

    Default

    Levels were fine for floating, no drags at all putting in at Boreal Mtn strip, and we were quite heavy in a 13' bucket boat. But overall levels were on the low side. Then it rained like crazy and all of the south slope rivers were bankful and raging...so it's super hard to predict.

    In general I would say that water would *typically* be higher in late June than in July or August, but a lot depends on the snowpack, runoff, and rainfall. Maybe others with more experience have different ideas, feel free to chime in. This year there was a huge snowpack south of the divide, but then a super hot and dry spring that drained a lot of rivers. Our main targets were too low, so we shifted to the NF....and then of course we had a big dump of rain which would have made our first target do-able if we'd left on a different day.

    The nice thing about going later is you have less bugs, although I find that a headnet and some bug dope pretty much makes them a manageable issue even during peak (usually end of June or early July, but moves later as you go north). Other upside to June is 24 hour sun...although it's not exactly dark anywhere until August. Upside to later is less bugs or maybe even no bugs, beautiful fall colors, maybe a chance at the northern lights if you set your alarm for the darkest part of night (have seen them on Labor Day weekend a few times, even further south than NF). But flying weather is more iffy, delays more likely, and snow can blow as you get later into fall.

    Another factor re timing is aufeis. We did have a tiny bit of aufeis on our trip, but not in the main channel. I suppose some years if you push to mid-June, you could see more of that. Aufeis great for mixed drinks and photographs, and usually quite obvious, but isn't always great for paddling. I don't think the NF is known to have hazardous aufeis as compared to, say, some rivers on the north slope, but it can change from year to year and is a function of a lot of variables like the flow during freeze-up, the snowpack, and the thaw. As fly over en route from Bettles, you can get a good idea.

    Speaking of flying, I get that you are going for a single flight, but one suggestion would be to stay flexible. It will probably work out perfectly, but you never know re levels, conditions, recent bear activity, wildfires, etc., so might want a few targets before you head up. There are other rivers that offer a single flight, too, like the John from Huntfork (or even Anuktuvuk) with a boat tow back into Bettles, or the Wild into the NF Koyukuk (shorter trip tho), as well as floating back into Arctic Village, etc. from the Refuge.

    I hope this helps; happy to share more info if you like. It's a wonderful trip full of discovery, and I love that there are very few resources to detail the rivers of the arctic!

  7. #7
    New member
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Location
    Oklahoma
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Thanks again, cpo. The info is very much appreciated. I really hadn't even thought of having a back up trip planned but the John River float sounds like it would work too if necessary.

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •