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Thread: Camping on Skilak Lake

  1. #1
    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    Default Camping on Skilak Lake

    I'm thinking about floating the Kenai this weekend, putting in at Cooper Landing and taking out at Upper Skilak Lake campground. The idea is to get in some fishing, some fun rafting, and having a family overnight campout.

    My read of the KRSMA regs is that no camping is allowed within the KRSMA except in developed campsites. That's not what I'm looking for, as I want the primitive camping that you get with a float in Alaska. So, thinks I, what is the boundary of the KRSMA? Thankfully, the State of Alaska was kind enough to spell that out here. My dangerously-not-a-lawyer brain has determined that as long as I am in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge on land that is not owned by the State, then I can camp in an undeveloped area (consistent of course with KNWR requirements.

    Does anyone have firsthand experience with camping on Skilak Lake near the inlet? Am I off the mark or do I have a grip on what is and is not allowed?

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    Opened your link. About as clear as mud to me. They should simply provide a colored map. You'd need a surveyor with you to understand all that.
    Hunt Ethically. Respect the Environment.

  3. #3
    Member hoose35's Avatar
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    Plenty of camping to be had in the lake near the outlet into the lake. Land on the beach just past the outlet. Lots of bears around
    Responsible Conservation > Political Allocation

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    Member Birdstrike's Avatar
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    I'll second the caution on the bears. I floated it several years ago with a group of boats and Boy Scouts with the plan to camp at the outlet. Due to the actively fishing bear at the outlet and the amount of sign we opted to continue on to the Upper Skilak Campground.

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    Member Ken R's Avatar
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    I wouldn't worry too much about bears. I've camped at the outlet probably a dozen times over the past 3 years and never seen a bear--I know they are there as I've seen plenty of tracks--mostly black, but never had any encounters. As for camping--I don't know about rules, but there are multitudes of semi-developed sites at the outlet and always people camping at them. Just come out into the lake and hang right--lots of sites. There is also a trail--Hidden Lake Trail, I think?-- to the right (past the little creek feeding in) that will take you back to Skilak Loop road--in case the Lake is too rough to make it to the upper skilak campground. If it is rough--use it! I flipped a Traveler on there a few years ago when I thought I could make it around the corner--I was wrong and will never try that again if it is rough. It is only a ~2 mile walk out to the road.

  6. #6
    Member cod's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Ken R; I flipped a Traveler on there a few years ago [/QUOTE]


    Please.... Do tell. Sounds exciting.
    Your sarcasm is way, waaaayyyyyyyy more sarcastic than mine!

  7. #7
    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the input. I did contact the KNWR folks and they said I can camp anywhere along the lake. Will keep an eye out for bruins and select camp site accordingly.

  8. #8
    Member Ken R's Avatar
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    Tinkerer--we'll be down Saturday night--if you see a group of four in a green Aire Cat and one green levitator (no more Traveler after my earlier reference) that'll be us! Feel free to stop in for beer.
    Cod- it was a crappy day on the lake, but I thought I could motor over to the trailhead and hike out. I was wrong--waves ended up killing the motor a few times and at the mercy of wind/waves we ended up (2 of us) out about a mile from shore. Motor swamped and while I was trying to start it another came and flipped us. I managed to turn it back over and the wind picked it up and flipped it over a couple times. I had my waders on and couldn't swim fast enough to catch it and couldn't see my buddy. Pulled off the waders to keep from sinking and was looking for my buddy when I realized how far out we were. I didn't think we would make it, but figured I better try. While swimming I couldn't help but think of how pissed my wife was going to be about me dying and if I did live how I would explain it to my bud's wife/daughter. Somehow, as I neared shore I could hear my buddy yelling encouragement and knew he was OK and that I would make it. But, hypothermia had us pretty good--couldn't stand or think. Finally remembered I had emergency stuff strapped in the boat about 100 yards from where I beached. Finally got a fire going and thinking straight. Scary trip--definitely woke me up to the danger on that lake. Keep your vests on and don't push your limits!

    PS--sorry for the long story. Can't tell it much shorter--at least I can't...

  9. #9
    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    Ken,

    Heh, that was a short story. Didn't even start with "It was a dark and stormy night..."

    I'll be in a red Aire Cougar. Hope to see you there.

  10. #10
    Member ChugiakTinkerer's Avatar
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    What an incredible weekend. The weather could not have been nicer. OK, maybe the 20 minutes of rain we could have done without. But then we wouldn't have seen the rainbow.

    Took wife and kids through the canyon. My first time through. It was fun, but when you're on an 18' cataraft even the big waves don't seem so big. We did get some white water on the deck of the boat but that's what dry bags are for. We got a late start, so opted to put in at Sportsman's Landing. There was a guy there reporting about a capsized drift boat in the canyon that spilled all its gear. Kept our eyes open but didn't see any gear.

    Camping on the lake was absolutely gorgeous. It's a popular area, as there were half a dozen power boats camped along the north shore. Breakfast wasn't so leisurely, because the two teenagers were getting antsy to back in their connected world. My 4.5 hp Suzuki puttered us across the lake to Upper Skilak takeout at about 5 -6 mph. The lake was as untreacherous as it could look, almost mirror smooth. Truck was waiting at the lot thanks to Wildman's service and $60. Hadn't gotten any salmon so we swung by a friend's place at the Kenai Keys and fished some there, with marginal success.

    Thanks Ken for the encouragement, it was a fun trip and great to meet you on the river.

    Cheers,
    Earle

  11. #11
    Member Ken R's Avatar
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    Yep, it was a pretty epic weekend to be on the lake/river and great to meet you and your family (although, I still might be the worlds worst fisherman). We had a motor issue and had to row back, but with the nice weather and a few leftover beers, we made it in about 2.25 hours. wouldn't want to row when it's blowing, but yesterday was no issue. Maybe we'll see you down there again...kr

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