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Thread: AKRR/Susitna River Trip Report (pic heavy)

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    Default AKRR/Susitna River Trip Report (pic heavy)

    After canceling this trip in June due to the river approaching flood stage we were able to finally get on the water August 3 & 4. The gauge at the Gold Creek/Susitna confluence http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/hydro...afc&gage=gcsa2 was at 9.7 and trending down. The weather guessers predicted a 60% chance of rain but were fortunately wrong in our favor this time. We only had a few minutes of sprinkles.

    We we left Anchorage at 8:00 am and arrived in Talkeetna just after 10:00am. After stopping by the AKRR depot just outside town to purchase tickets for $24ea for AK residents one way from Talkeetna to Gold Creek on the Hurricane Turn Train we then drove into town where the train was parked to load our gear. The train was parked on a siding and the Engineer directed us to a boxcar. We'd packed at home as compact as possible to help us load/unload as quickly as possible. We had also brought our two dogs that were required to be kenneled or muzzled while on the train. We brought their kennels with the plan to disassemble them and strap them on the back of the raft.

    After a quick lunch in town we dropped off two very confused dogs at the train and then drove down the road to the depot for overnight parking and to load with the rest of the passengers. The train ride alone is well worth the money. The crew was super friendly and helpful. The passengers were a mix of tourists along for the round trip to Hurricane, a commercial raft group for a short float, us, and a couple of homesteaders returning to their cabin.




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    The Hurricane Turn Train runs a 115 mile route that leaves Talkeetna Thursday through Sunday. It's a flag stop train meaning you can get off/on at any point. This is one of the last trains in North America that allows this. The crew explained they'd be making numerous stops for wildlife and scenery viewing along with a planned stop at Curry for a quick historical walking tour (and to allow a southbound train to pass). The train departs at 12:45pm and arrives back in Talkeetna about 7pm if you stay on for the entire journey. We were told our planned stop at Gold Creek would take about an hour running time (2 hours with the stops). You can ride in or between the passenger cars, but we mostly hung out in the boxcar looking at the scenery pass by the open doors.



    Saying goodbye to our ride!



    Just after crossing the Susitna at Gold Creek the train stopped, the Conductor lowered the steps, and we off-loaded the dogs and gear from the boxcar. Come prepared to lower your gear almost 6' from the train to the ground. The tourists wished us well while still amazed that a family of four thought nothing of jumping off the train in the middle of the wilderness, inflating a raft, and floating 2 days back to town. Lol.
    It was about a 200 yd downhill gear hump to the river. An little over an hour and a half later we were on our way.




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    I forgot my gps but it took almost 8 hours of floating to get back to Talkeetna. It's about 40 river miles and the majority of the time the river flows fairly fast. The river slows considerably as you near the Chulitna confluence just before Talkeetna. We planned on floating just past Curry (about 3 1/2 hours) and then making camp. I'd brought a fly rod hoping to find some silver salmon in a clear water tributary along the way. The few creeks we checked out were too small/low for salmon.



    However, there is an extensive fish study taking place along the river for the proposed Watana Dam upstream of Devil's Canyon. Researchers have camps at Curry and Gold Creek along with numerous fish wheels along the river to capture, weigh/measure, insert tracking devices, and release fish as part of the study. There was also a small helicopter flying overhead that we were told was tracking the fish moving upstream. We'd just floated away from a section of riverside track as the train returned southbound so we missed the opportunity to let the tourists know we were still alive & well. Haha



    From the train we saw a black bear on one of the many wooded islands. To hopefully avoid bear problems we elected to camp on an exposed gravel/sand bar. We left the electric bear fence home in hopes that the dogs and normal camping in bear country procedures was enough. It was!



    IMO this is a perfect trip to introduce friends/family to river camping. The rafting is easy, you're never far from the RR tracks if someone in the party is fearful of some type of disaster, and good campsites are numerous.

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    Comfortable camping, good food, and great time with family and friends is a huge part of what river trips so much fun.





    Biscuit topped stew in a Dutch oven.



    No bake cheesecake by Jello with an Oreo crust (made with river chilled water & powdered milk). Yummy!





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    We broke camp early the next morning with a plan to reach Talkeetna by early afternoon. The river slows considerably at it reaches the confluence with the Chulitna that enters from river right. I just took every major braid flowing river left until reaching the Talkeetna. It was an easy cross-current ferry across the Talkeetna to a point about 200yds upstream of the beach at the end of C sreet. From there it's about a 150yd gear hump to the parking lot.



    As we were unloading gear a jackarse jet boat captain with the big, local operator decided to throw a 3' high wave onto the beach. I'm not sure if he was showing off for somebody on the beach, had a beef with a local rafting company and thought I was part of it, or what his problem was? He nearly drowned one of my swimming dogs, swamped a little kid playing at water's edge, and nearly sucked my raft back into the current with the backwash. If 'd had a passenger just unloading from my raft they would have been face-planted onto the beach due to raft being picked up on the wave. There was absolutely no reason he was as close to the beach other than to intentionally do what he did. He was close enough that I began reaching for a baseball size rock. I opted instead to stop by the office on the way out of town. Hopefully the office manager passed on my arse chewing to the owner like she said she would. The potential for someone to have gotten hurt by his actions was huge.

    Other than that incident, it was a fantastic trip. I highly recommend it!

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    Nice report and pictures.. Thanks.. Especially the info on the rude captain! A company to avoid in the future.. Any fishing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Birdstrike View Post
    We broke camp early the next morning with a plan to reach Talkeetna by early afternoon. The river slows considerably at it reaches the confluence with the Chulitna that enters from river right. I just took every major braid flowing river left until reaching the Talkeetna. It was an easy cross-current ferry across the Talkeetna to a point about 200yds upstream of the beach at the end of C sreet. From there it's about a 150yd gear hump to the parking lot.



    As we were unloading gear a jackarse jet boat captain with the big, local operator decided to throw a 3' high wave onto the beach. I'm not sure if he was showing off for somebody on the beach, had a beef with a local rafting company and thought I was part of it, or what his problem was? He nearly drowned one of my swimming dogs, swamped a little kid playing at water's edge, and nearly sucked my raft back into the current with the backwash. If 'd had a passenger just unloading from my raft they would have been face-planted onto the beach due to raft being picked up on the wave. There was absolutely no reason he was as close to the beach other than to intentionally do what he did. He was close enough that I began reaching for a baseball size rock. I opted instead to stop by the office on the way out of town. Hopefully the office manager passed on my arse chewing to the owner like she said she would. The potential for someone to have gotten hurt by his actions was huge.

    Other than that incident, it was a fantastic trip. I highly recommend it!

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