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Thread: Chickaloon Packrafting Catastrophe

  1. #1
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    Default Chickaloon Packrafting Catastrophe

    Hello whitewater community,

    Yesterday (sunday) some friends and I were thoroughly destroyed due to high water on the chickaloon. We've lost 3 packrafts, including backpacks and paddles.

    In hopes that they are hung up somewhere, we ask that if anyone boating on the lower Chickaloon and down into the Matanuska please keep an eye out for this gear! At this point, it is possible (likely) that they have made it to Cook Inlet....

    All boats are alpacka pack rafts. 2 Blue boats, 1 green boat. The green boat lost it's pack, the blue boats likely still have packs attached (1 red osprey pack, 1 orange dry bag).

    If you see these boats, or able to rescue these boats, we would love to have this stuff back!
    Please call Zach at 907 - 244- 5626

    Thanks!!

  2. #2

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    Ouch....That was an expensive outing.

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    While not low, the mat is not particularly high right now, though the rain has definitely brought it up a couple feet. I'd be surprised if the boats made it much past kings river without getting hung up on a gravel bar. There is also a short braided section a couple of miles below the chick along king mtn that is the first place I would look.

    Sorry for your loss, hopefully some gear is recovered. A pilot with a couple of hours would be useful for gear searching but I can't help you there, sorry. Maybe someone can help though. Ceilings are pretty decent right now.

    Please consider taking the time after you catch your breath to post a write up of the adventure here, missed warning signs, lessons learned, etc. Would be instructive and much appreciated. There's no planning adventures but I am grateful that you seem to have come out with the most important things intact.

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    Seligmanz,

    It sounds like you had a bad day on the river. But it was not a tragic day, and it could have been with the current high water levels. I'm sure all of you were wearing your PFD/Life Vests. Life Is Good.

    You might notify Nova River Runners in Chickaloon about your lost gear. Chuck, owner/operator, has more knowledge about what is going on in the Matanuska River than anybody else. And while it is not a legal necessity, you might notify Mat-Su Emergency Services in Wasilla about your mishap. They may have already heard of your river mishap and lost boats. If so, I'm sure they would like to know that all three rafters self rescued and are safe. And those two organization might know if your boats were recovered.

    AlaskaTrue/Dennis
    Imagine (It's easy if you try)
    …miles and miles of mountains…wide expanses of tundra...remote wild waters…
    (Whisper words of wisdom) Let It Be

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    Contacting chuck at NOVA is an excellent idea.

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    Default Chickaloon higher water warning

    Sorry about your loss.
    The Chickaloon is class II-III if the river left channel at the bridge on Glenn Highway is blue-ish water, and on that side only.

    If it looks full, and is seeping onto the river right gravel bar it is solid class III until about 3 miles above the ledge, when it eases up, until the ledge itself, which should be ran river left.

    If the gravel bar is covered the Chickaloon, while doable, should not be attempted by people who cannot roll a boat, or do not know how to re-flip inflatable crafts on the fly. I have heard of SIX,( yes six), boats being lost in the last three seasons alone. At high water, from the put-in at sixteen mile strip, there are very, very... long stretchs of fairly intense class III-IV- whitewater, few eddies, little rest.

    If you are fairly new to the sport, or cannot roll, stay away at higher water, you heard it. All goes well until a capsize, and the long swim which follows, on these types of continuous gradient streams. A whopping 143 fpm in the steep sections, on this one, pretty steep for a river. It also contains fairly large holes, and lots of awesome waves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by mark oathout View Post
    Sorry about your loss.
    The Chickaloon is class II-III if the river left channel at the bridge on Glenn Highway is blue-ish water, and on that side only.

    If it looks full, and is seeping onto the river right gravel bar it is solid class III until about 3 miles above the ledge, when it eases up, until the ledge itself, which should be ran river left.

    If the gravel bar is covered the Chickaloon, while doable, should not be attempted by people who cannot roll a boat. I have heard of SIX,( yes six), boats being lost in the last three seasons alone. At high water, from the put-in at sixteen mile strip, there are very, very... long stretchs of fairly intense class III-IV- whitewater, few eddies, little rest.

    If you are fairly new to the sport, or cannot roll, stay away at higher water, you heard it. All goes well until a capsize, and the long swim which follows, on these types of continuous gradient streams. A whopping 143 fpm in the steep sections, on this one, pretty steep for a river. It also contains fairly large holes, and lots of awesome waves.
    I'm with Mark on this one, and he's spot on when it comes to the morphing classifications with water levels primarily due to gradient and bottom structures/features.

    I'll also let the original poster know (this should not be seen as advertising - I hope in this case) that part of my services involve recoveries of downed planes that wreck into waters as well as boaters in your situation where some are rescues... however most are fortunately involving potential recovery of boats. This service runs Statewide. Sorry to have the venture go wrong, yet with aircraft and whitewater boating with rescue gear always at the ready... nice to know there's someone to help ya out.

    Sounds as if PFDs were on and likely just bumps/bruises... boats and gear are replaceable... you and others are not. Sorry once again, maybe I can provide assistance.

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    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your prompt, sensitive and informative replies. I learned a lot and will be happy to write up something more informative regarding the events. Everyone self-rescued and regrouped -- of course... extremely grateful that only gear was lost. Brian, do you have a number to be reached at? We'd love to attempt to retrieve some of this gear. Would be happy to talk more.

    Thanks
    Zach

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    Quote Originally Posted by seligmanz View Post
    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for your prompt, sensitive and informative replies. I learned a lot and will be happy to write up something more informative regarding the events. Everyone self-rescued and regrouped -- of course... extremely grateful that only gear was lost. Brian, do you have a number to be reached at? We'd love to attempt to retrieve some of this gear. Would be happy to talk more.

    Thanks
    Zach
    Hello Zack,

    Re-read your post describing boats and gear... Yes - my number is 907-250-2271. I'm glad to hear all re-grouped. An important reason to possibly find your boats is so that others do not think that your still missing out there as well.

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    Hi Brian,

    Agreed. I"ll call you a call later this afternoon.

    Best,
    Zach

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    Any boat recovery success? I will be Onriver later this week and will keep my eyes open.

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    Hi andweav,

    Flew low over the Inlet, the Mat, and the Chickaloon yesterday. Didn't see anything - seems like they could be anywhere. Have fun on the river -- I appreciate you keeping an eye out.

    Just for reference:
    1 blue boat with red osprey pack
    1 blue boat with orange dry bag
    1 dark green boat - non-attached black gregory backpack

    907-244-5626
    seligmanz@hotmail.com

    Best,
    Zach

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    Hello Zach,

    Small stuff like that is hard to find from the air... believe it or not, on some rivers a 16' raft is hard enough to spot given similar circumstances. Often times these kinds of episodes do turn up something and occasionally a significant time later. I'll keep my eyes out... PM or email HIN #s if the boats or you have em'.

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    Zach- floated last night from very lower
    Chickaloon river (hwy bridge) around king mountain to a takeout a couple of miles below Nova bend where river meets the highway right near some cliffs. Didn't see a thing, did glance at a few strainers and things but not much to stop a floating object at these water levels. She's going to be a mean river the next few days.

    Be patient. May turn up on down the road, er, river. Perhaps even during late fall low water. Might also be worthwhile posting a few signs at popular access points, Kings River takeout and old Glenn bridge come to mind as there are lots of braids between the two.

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    Hi everyone,

    Thanks for continued ground support. Got in the air last week and, yes, very hard to see anything!! Looking through binoculars in the 170 didn't help my air sickness either. TWO boats turned up. Much thanks to Scott at Matanuska MadWater -- extremely generous with his time and expertise, helped us recover one boat. Also, may thanks to the folks at NOVA who recovered a second boat and backpack. The third, my boat, is still at large somewhere on the Matanuska. It is a blue, new-style alpacka raft with potentially a red pack attached to it. Two out of three in one week is pretty good recovery - hopefully the third turns up.

    Thanks again.

    z

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