I'm planning a family cataraft ride in June from Joseph to the Taylor Highway bridge. I would be grateful for advice about the number of days we should allow to reach the bridge and for any other comments on that stretch of the river. Is there an alternative to Forty Mile Air for the fly-in?
Thank you in advance for your help.
Last year I saw Wright Air from Fairbanks drop off folks at the Joseph creek strip. I was told that you have to do one portage before the bridge.
Yeah, you have to portage The Kink. Well, you wouldn't have to I guess, but it is a class V drop, and I don't do those with a loaded boat. It's a short portage though, and from the pictures I've seen, it looks like you could line a mostly empty boat through it.
I have only done the road accessible sections from mile 76, past the Fortymile Bridge (Taylor Highway near Eagle) and on to Eagle. I haven't done the section from Joseph Creek to where it joins the South Fork, but I have talked to a few that have. As I recall, they talked about this as a 7 to 10 day trip depending on water level. It took us five very full floating days to go from mile 76 bridge to Clinton Creek, if that is any indication.
What I recall is the water level fluctuates a lot, and at low water the creek becomes very low and slow. What should be swiftly flowing areas becomes a series of slow pools to paddle through, connected by short swift shallow sections. The catarafts tended to get hung up in the shallows more than round boats. I would travel light if the water is low.
The three times we did it, we found that the water was relatively high from snow melt in early June, but by the 15th it was over, and the creek was drying up fast. By the end of June, if it didn't rain, the creek was pretty much impossible to run by anything but hovercrafts (there are some miners that use them for this), or at least impossible keep any kind of reasonable schedule. These were dry years though, so perhaps my experiences are not the norm.
The last time we did it, water levels were about like before, but then it rained hard one night and the water level changed from very low to moderately high before the day was over. It continued to rain on and off for a few more days, and by the end of the week the canyon section, below your take out, was considered too high to run. The point is that water levels fluxuate enough that is impossible to tell you how long to expect the trip to last. I think I would plan for 10 days, and just slow down and camp more if the water is high. A GPS is a great way to calculate each days floating schedule to keep you from a final day marathon.
I have a short two page write up about our first two trips here: http://www.paddling.jimstrutz.com/page8.html
Pictures are here: http://paddling.jimstrutz.com/images...ile-index.html