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Thread: Upper Gulkana in Three Days?

  1. #1
    Member Cody77's Avatar
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    Post Upper Gulkana in Three Days?

    Three days, two nights. Is this doable? Paxson to Sourdough.

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    Yes it is. It is going quick but I've done it in three days and two nights.

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    Cody:

    I put a lot of rafters on the upper Gulkana and here is what I tell them. Plan on 4.5-5 days on the river. This allows you to fish the outlet for Lakers, the Canyon to the wet Fork for Rainbows and not knock your self out. My rule of thumb is like this...11-16 miles per day is very doable. You can hammer 20ish if you have to but it makes for a very long day on the river, but why?

    Many years ago I did a fly in on the Squirrel River in NW Alaska. My kids were at the sitter and I planned on 3.5 days. My pilot dropped me off and we were enjoying the sights when I had a bad feeling about the drip site. I pulled my Topo out and realized the pilot had dropped our group 22 extra milled up river than we had planned on. The extra 22 miles made a good little raft trip into a slog. I had planed on 38 miles and the trip was now 60 miles. Doing the math you see that each day had to produce 18+ miles and it was 10 pm of day 1 when we finally had all the rafts inflated and ready to go.

    So yes you can do the Gulkana in 3 days, it is only 48 ish miles but once again why? 2.5 hours across Paxon (no wind please!) 1-2 hours portaging the canyon and wait until yo hit the switch backs!

    Have a good trip but add an extra day and enjoy your float?

    Walt
    Gulkana River Raft Rentals
    907-259-4290

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    3.5 Kicker skip the dead water and 3 days is enough time to float and have a productive fishing trip. However I am with Walt 4-5 Days is much more fun.

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    Member cod's Avatar
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    I wouldn't think of floating it in 3. It can be done and has by many. There would be little enjoyment in such a rushed trip.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    We've always done it in 4 days 3 nights even when our kids were 3 and 5. There has been many trips we wanted to stay a day longer, but quick trips are better than no trips. Walt what is the ice situation like on Paxson Lake? We had a trip planned for the 14th, but we also planned on a warm and sunny spring.

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    Member cod's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chano View Post
    We've always done it in 4 days 3 nights even when our kids were 3 and 5. There has been many trips we wanted to stay a day longer, but quick trips are better than no trips. Walt what is the ice situation like on Paxson Lake? We had a trip planned for the 14th, but we also planned on a warm and sunny spring.
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    Bushwack Jack - Paxson Lake is not open yet. I was down there this weekend ice fishing. Still 30-36" of ice. Almost needed an extension on the auger. There is a little bit of open water at both the inlet and outlet and few spots along the shore.


    FROM ANOTHER THREAD.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

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    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Yep sorry to say lots of ice! :-( buddy sent me a picture of sourdough landing on Sunday water is nice an high coming down I was thinking score and then he sent me a picture of Paxson lake and AWWW! Shucks.

  9. #9

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    I agree with Walt. You could do it in a looooooong three day weekend if you had to, but why? Personally, my family and I like to take about 5 or 6 days from Paxson Lake down to Sourdough. That allows us to stay a night at all our favorite fishing spots. The Gulkana has way too many good spots to fish to just blow through in a few days. Take your time and enjoy yourself.

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    Member Cody77's Avatar
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    Not everyone has sweet 4-5 day weekends like you guys.....that's why. Not trying to prove a point here, just like being on the river and am looking to do more than the day trips on the kenai. I have a three day weekend. That's the longest one for months. I did the entire Talachulitna in 3.5 and the chulitna in three. Not because I wanted to, I had to. Either I do some rowing or I stay at home.

  11. #11

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    Cody, I've done it and it is a fun trip, is four better yes but like you said you take what you get. I'd get after it and enjoy yourself beats staying at home.

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    What are the rules for a kicker on the upper river?

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    I don't recall a motor restriction on the Gulkana, and I was on a trip where one was used. It does speed up some of the really slow water. We had the motor to speed the crossing of the lake, but it was quite nice in a couple spot of the river too.

    On the other hand there is a mile or so of very slack water that has been eliminated by the natural removal of one big oxbow. Couple of times with small craft I hoisted my boat and self over the top to pass up my buddies. Now it's all gone.

  14. #14

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    If you use a motor for the lake and doldrums... row the rest, stay in the fast water, don't portage anything, and don't fish, then yes it is completely doable in three days. If you had a ten horse set up for shallow water, I bet you could do it in two. I heard a story of Bobby Knight leaving a very expensive fly rod at a camp years ago on the Gulkana and two of his guides did the river in two days to get it. But why???? That's a trip to enjoy, not hurry. If I were you, I would find something shorter for now and take some time to enjoy it later.

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    So yes you can do the Gulkana in 3 days, it is only 48 ish miles but once again why? 2.5 hours across Paxon (no wind please!) 1-2 hours portaging the canyon and wait until yo hit the switch backs!

    Have a good trip but add an extra day and enjoy your float?

    Walt
    Gulkana River Raft Rentals
    907-259-4290[/QUOTE]

    Walt:
    Is it 2.5 hours across the lake without wind with a kicker or paddling?

    Thanks

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    We did it in about an hour with a 2.5 hp motor on a 14' self bailer. Had a headwind

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    Anyone else run it between July 4-7?

    Curious on what you consider the current water conditions. Also the 47 miles isn't 47 with the new channels. My GPS logged 57 from the outlet

    Water was clear but man was she rippin!
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by TWB View Post
    Anyone else run it between July 4-7?

    Curious on what you consider the current water conditions. Also the 47 miles isn't 47 with the new channels. My GPS logged 57 from the outlet

    Water was clear but man was she rippin!
    I floated it this past weekend. Nice trip! A little busy but still an enjoyable trip. The flooding changed the river quite a bit below the canyon. I had to be on the oars a lot! The water was lower than my other trips down the river. Caught a lot of fish so can't complain!!! The row across in the headwind on the fourth was a little rough though....

  19. #19
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    We ran it in packrafts. Was an intense ride below the canyon for sure! I had a sweeper take me out on the lower end as the terrain opened up.

    The gauge at Paxson was 3.1cfs when we left and historically 2.5ish is considered low. Is the current condition considered low?
    We do not go to the green woods and crystal waters to rough it, we go to smooth it. We get it rough enough at home; in towns and cities; in shops, offices, stores, banks anywhere that we may be placed

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by TWB View Post
    We ran it in packrafts. Was an intense ride below the canyon for sure! I had a sweeper take me out on the lower end as the terrain opened up.

    The gauge at Paxson was 3.1cfs when we left and historically 2.5ish is considered low. Is the current condition considered low?
    I would consider this water level moderately low. It is the lowest I have made the trip in. However, with the flooding that took place I would consider the float was more difficult than my other trips down the Gulkana. Quite a few more sweepers and such. I could see that section being a little difficult in a packraft.

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