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Thread: Five Fingers Rapids on Yukon

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    Default Five Fingers Rapids on Yukon

    Has anyone here ever ran the 5 Fingers Rapids on the Yukon somewhere around Carmacks. It's has a 100' wide chute to pass through. It's got to be fast. I've been reading, old time Yukon Steamboats passed through it all the time.
    North61, you know anything about this rapid, or anyone else? Zack

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    It's a cool spot. Very interesting from a geologic perspective. No longer as challenging as it was before the dam was built downstream. Still quick, but not terribly challenging. There are some pretty neat photo's of sternwheelers running it back in the day. It was quite a challenge and lots of boats were lost.
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    Very cool pics. I've looked at it on Google but that is just one dimension, straight down. Can you guess-timate the speed right in there? And, don't diesel tour boats still run it from Dawson to Whitehorse? Zack

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zack View Post
    Very cool pics. I've looked at it on Google but that is just one dimension, straight down. Can you guess-timate the speed right in there? And, don't diesel tour boats still run it from Dawson to Whitehorse? Zack
    Don't know the speed. It's only a few hundred yards long; probably a 3 minute float. Beautiful clear water up there, no silt at all. Photo's were taken Sept, 2004. No tour boats sighted then.
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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Sorry Zack, not awake yet. I posted pics of Miles Canyon, above the dam. 5 Fingers is a ways below the dam; about the same speed and length but a bit rougher (class II or III). Pre-dam, Miles Canyon would have been the most challenging water on the river, but now the fun stuff is about 30 feet below the surface. Sorry for the confusion.
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    Never ran the 5 finger rapids but I have looked them over from the shore several times. About 5 miles down river is Rink Rapids but the largest boulders were dynamited out during the gold days to make easier passage for the stern wheelers. Keep to river right on both and it's a fast clear run with standing waves at the end. Shouldn't be much of a problem. Know a lot of people who have done the Whitehorse to Dawson trip and the 5 finger run is one of the high-lites. Never heard of anyone who keeps right getting into trouble. There have been people who died taking one of the other fingers.

    The dam is South of Whitehorse the 5 finger rapids is the other side of Carmacks (about 25 river miles) more than 100 river miles from the dam.

    Here is a youtube video of someone taking it. The standing waves are the hard part

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8772b-6ZyY

  7. #7

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    Ran it in a kayak in the '90's - Prijon Yukon Expedition (designer was inspired by the Yukon R.).

    This was a 10 day Boy Scout trip. Nine Scouts, with prefabbed catamarans assembled on the beach, each built of two Grummans, plywood deck, and sail rig. Four adults, three in kayaks (two of which were folding), and one adult that rode alternately on the cats.

    We had a couple of folks very, very knowledgeable of the river. I was a bit apprehensive of Five Finger Rapids, that being my first time on a kayak trip of such nature. Seems to me we went thru between the 2nd and 3 rocks from the right. Check to verify.
    The standing waves were large enough that one needed lift the paddle overhead to not end up catching a blade and getting sideways - then paddle like heck to the next. The river was near flood level at the time.
    Boys did just fine powering their canoe rigs thru, as well. Basically paddling hard and keeping straight ahead. We had a great adventure on the river.
    Five Fingers was exciting, required attention - but very doable when you know what to expect.

    Gold rush histories do indeed have quite a bit of print on Five Fingers.
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    When you get to Whitehorse go to Fireweed books downtown and buy a guide book. I like the one by Rourke. It says, "Over the years the right hand channel was widened and dangerous rocks removed by blasting". It goes on to say to keep right at five finger and below the rapids keep to the right of the big island.

    Lots of history in this book will make for a more interesting trip.

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    Quote Originally Posted by North61 View Post
    When you get to Whitehorse go to Fireweed books downtown and buy a guide book. I like the one by Rourke. It says, "Over the years the right hand channel was widened and dangerous rocks removed by blasting". It goes on to say to keep right at five finger and below the rapids keep to the right of the big island.

    Lots of history in this book will make for a more interesting trip.
    Solid advice.
    Enjoy the journey if you go, Zack - there are some nice grayling in the upper river just out of Whitehorse.
    "Punish the monkey - let the organ grinder go" - Mark Knopfler

  10. #10

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    Ah, no guys, I'm not going. Too old for that kind of adventure. I live in the midwest anyway. I have heard Five Fingers Rapids referenced in several books and thought I'd see what any of the the local to that area (North61) folks had to say about it.
    Nope, my canoe adventures these days amount to running my square stern Osage canoe up a local river in search of channel catfish. Thanks for all the replies. Zack

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zack View Post
    Ah, no guys, I'm not going. Too old for that kind of adventure. I live in the midwest anyway. I have heard Five Fingers Rapids referenced in several books and thought I'd see what any of the the local to that area (North61) folks had to say about it.
    Nope, my canoe adventures these days amount to running my square stern Osage canoe up a local river in search of channel catfish. Thanks for all the replies. Zack
    Well, then I guess it would have been OK to mention the story of gold seekers being required to stay a day to bury the dead that didn't make it through. But, I bet you have read that.
    Ha
    "Punish the monkey - let the organ grinder go" - Mark Knopfler

  12. #12

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    Yes I've read about the gold seekers having trouble in that run. Call Of The Wild comes to mind. I've heard reference to Five Fingers several times through the years. Seems like Jack London mentioned that they were trying to shoot the rapid with out making any way, (no control) but I haven't read that particular book in years. From what I've seen on U Tube and Google it doesn't look that terribly bad. But, I guess it was for them. I can imagine a group of gold fevered miners with little river experience cobbling together anything that would float, then overloading it with all their stuff; then taking off and hoping for the best and relying on providence.

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    Member Lvnthdrm's Avatar
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    Get hold of a book called "A Land Gone Lonesome" awesome recounting of his trip from Dawson to Circle in a old Grumman with lift. Fascinating reading and a great listing of important and interesting things that occurred in that area. (at least I enjoyed it)

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    Member Yukoner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zack View Post
    Has anyone here ever ran the 5 Fingers Rapids on the Yukon somewhere around Carmacks. It's has a 100' wide chute to pass through. It's got to be fast. I've been reading, old time Yukon Steamboats passed through it all the time.
    North61, you know anything about this rapid, or anyone else? Zack
    Hi Zack
    Five Finger rapids is not an issue. There are some standing waves, and if you are asleep, you could get into trouble. Hundreds of complete neophyte canoeists run it every season and have no trouble at all. Every few years, someone gets into trouble there, but these are such a small percentage of the total.
    Anything really specific or water levels, give Scott at Kanoe People in Whitehorse a call.
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    you both get dirty;
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    Stay to the right, you'll be fine. Been through there many many times, including with groups of gr 7 kids with minimal
    experience.

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