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Thread: Upper Gulkana-Water levels

  1. #1
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    Default Upper Gulkana-Water levels

    We are suspending our rentals on the upper Gulkana until we see some rain and improvement in the water levels. Out last group down had a very tough time from the Paxon outlet down to the Middle Fork and again under the canyon due to the lack of water. Our last rental took a beating and had serious floor damage due to the lack or water. We are still renting rafts and canoes on the lower section but this may be it for the Paxon to Sourdough section for 2013.

    It is time to start packing up gear for our float hunts in Kotz as well. We have 1 13 foot raft package in Kotz if anyone is interested.

    Shoot me a message.

    Walt

  2. #2
    Member scott_rn's Avatar
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    Sounds like low water is problematic all over. I had to cancel a moose creek float next week due to low water as well.

    Sounds like a bad year to be a float hunter, I will probably be hiking a lot this year.
    My only gear sponsor is the salvation army - Dick Griffith

  3. #3
    Member TWB's Avatar
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    Walt,

    There's a few Boy Scout packs up there now. Any word on them?

    Low water on the upper is part from being blown out. The extra channels and braids made it tough for sure. There's a run on river right that was like a louge in a packraft. Fast n Furious.
    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

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    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Yepper been working with a friend on package options even made the statement I will loan you the kayaks and small raft just to be sure you can run it. If I were going up there at 500 CF I would run inflatable kayaks or mini rafts such a 10ft Trib and go super light. I have been on the walk of shame up there always plan on an extra day when the water is super low.

    As always Walt thanks for sharing.

  5. #5
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    I was contacted by 2 groups today looking for another option for a nice 3-4 day raft trip. We have done the Slana River down to the Copper and take out below Chistochina, That part of the Copper is an easy run and a nice 3+day trip. The Copper becomes larger once you reach the Gakona and Gulkana. Even if you have limited river experience most folks with good gear can run the Slana to Chisto section and really all the way down to Gakona Village with no real danger issues.

    Heck with the way the weather is kicking our buts anymore we just may shift out rental operation on to that section of the Copper.

    Walt
    Gulkana River Raft Rentals
    Northwest Alaska Back Country-Kotz

  6. #6

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    Just got back from Gulkana. We put in at Paxson on Tuesday the 30th late in the PM. Outlet was about 2.3 with about 200 cfs. Took out Saturday the 3rd at Sourdough with flow at about 5.5 and 500 cfs. We had a 14' NRS E series and Traveler II IK. Both loaded fairly light. One person in the raft and one in the IK.

    The outlet was not too bad. I didn't have to get out of the boat until about 2/3 the way down. Got out 3 times but getting unstuck was no problem. The IK did fine. Once to the confluence we really had no problem - slow but no real issues with water level from the confluence to the canyon. The Canyon is pretty different from what I had previously experience. We portaged to get the raft as light as possible and then deflated the IK and took it in the front of the raft to level the boat. The canyon looked more difficult than it was - very rocky but not pushy at all so maneuvering wasn't hard. The 3 channels through the first drop looked pretty knarly. We chose the center shoot - right and left appeared to us to have much more pin hazard. Center channel is narrow but allows a pretty simple entry. The drops below presented no problem. We floated the canyon with one person in the raft and the other on the shore in case the boat did get seriously stuck or pinned. We camped at the bottom (too lazy to reload the boat) and getting to the pull out was a pain but very doable.

    The rock garden below the canyon is tricky but we got through without getting out of the boat. Once through that stretch we encountered a series of slow water and shallow sections. I got out of the boat twice from below the rock garden to the take out. Once for a really shallow area and once to pull the boat around a sweeper that was in the only channel - but with the light boat it did not present a real problem - a minute or two. However, in the stretch below the rock garden and above the confluence there are at least two sharp corners that could be problematic. Both very sharp left 90's into a very narrow and short channel and then into a sharp bank with lots of debris and trees. Boat angle critical to stay off the bank. Not much time due to velocity of water and one must be ready for serious ferry as soon as there is room for the oars. Below the confluence our only problem was wind - and it was a bear.

    Great trip. Lots of fish. We saw beaver, moose, bear, caribou, lots of spawning kings and of course a lot of birds. This is a very doable trip if you have solid rowing/kayaking skills and can read the river to choose the best channel. 6 inches more water would have been great but we enjoyed the trip and based on experience on other skinny creeks - East Fork Chulitna at very low water for example - it presented no real issues. I would caveat this by saying both of us have lots of time in skinny water. Well worth the effort in my opinion. Go as light as you can and enjoy.

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    Great story and sounds like a wonderful trip.

    Gulkana Raft Rentals is looking at making some changes for 2014 by adding the upper Copper to out existing trips. In the past we have stuck to the Gulkana because the Gulkana is a forgiving river and many of our clients and new to back country rafting. This has worked well for us and our business has grown nicely. In 2014 we will start doing trips on the upper Copper from Slana to Chistochina and on down to Gakona. This section of the Copper is not as powerful as the section below the Gulkana and on to Chitna and can be rafted by less experienced rafters. Our goal is to provide a safe and enjoyable trip for or clients and with the addition of the upper Copper to our choice of trips floaters will get to experience the Copper River which is truly a gem or a trip which all should add to the family bucket list.


    We will have the details worked out by spring time in time for summer of 2014.

    Walt

  8. #8
    Member BlueMoose's Avatar
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    Additional water now in the system of course they are calling for more clear weather however after being in in for two days of steady I would say there is enough not to be on a float Drag versus a float trip.

  9. #9

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    Any news on Paxson Lake or the upper river yet this year? Has the ice gone out and has the water started dropping?

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