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Thread: DANGER on the Upper Kenai

  1. #1
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Exclamation DANGER on the Upper Kenai

    Hi folks,

    [NOTE: 8/4 Map updated to reflect accurate location of logjam. I received this image from one of the people who lost a boat there.]

    I know there will be a lot of rafters on the upper Kenai River this coming weekend and I hope to help someone avoid disaster. This morning Jeff Varvil of Alaska Raft and Kayak told me that one of their customers pinned their rental cataraft in a pretty sizeable cottonwood that has fallen right in the channel of a popular braid on the upper river. I am attaching a map of the area as he described it to me (thanks Google Earth!). The exact location was given to me by someone who lost a boat in there.

    A large cottonwood log is bridging the main channel and there is no way to avoid it by the time you can see it. I have been through there many times and the current smokes along pretty good in there.

    Avoid the back channel altogether and just stick to the main channel on river right.

    Hope it helps! Please chime in if you have more info.

    -Mike
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    Last edited by Michael Strahan; 08-04-2007 at 10:42.
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks for the update, Mike! We might be taking my sister-in-law to go float the upper Kenai tomorrow morning, so this is timely information.

  3. #3

    Default At least 3 boats in the jam

    My friend was one of the unlucky (but very lucky because no one got hurt) boaters that got pinned in the log jam. His was the second boat in and a third boat jammed right behind him. Fortunately everyone at that time was rescued. The lost was boat, motor, and personal effects. Good reminder that even though the rafts are relatively inexpensive to get insurance. He was able to cover most of his investment with the insurance money and already has a new boat thanks to Alaska Raft and Kayak.

    I don't have any updated info on but I know he was trying to get someone to post the entrance to the channel to warn folks.

    Be safe and WEAR A PFD!

    Steve

  4. #4
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Default

    Some people call that rainbow alley. It is the channel on the left just as you past the powerlines. Very very popular for reds back there this time of the year and I know i went through it last week with no problems but as we all know this river can change in an hour. I also fish it for bows in the fall. Last week the boats were stacked up and people shoulder to shoulder there. Im so glad nobody was hurt because it is a very very popular channel to float and fish. Thanks for the update gentlemen
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  5. #5

    Default

    There is also a pretty good log jam a ways down stream from there here is my story this is what I sent to my family after I made it out. This was 6/13/07
    Well fishing was a blast. Austin and I decded to go
    further down the river to fish. The water is alot
    higher so there is overflow channels. We decided to
    go down one and we came around a corner and there was
    a log jam. Austin made it shore and I got stuck in
    the current and when I hit the logs I got turned
    sideways and my raft overturned. I was stuck under
    the water fighting to get to the surface trying to
    grab for anything my hands could get ahold of for what
    seemed like an eternity. When I saw that wasn't doing
    me any good and I was about to take my last breath I
    pushed away and got away from the raft and came to
    surface in between some logs clinging to branches
    knowing I need to get out of the glacier chilled water
    right then. Austin was screaming my name frantically
    I told him I was ok. He tried helping me out but with
    my waders filled with water I weighed twice as much.
    I managed to get some footing on some branches and
    pulled myself up onto the logs. Once I got to shore I
    knew my I had to get my waders off my legs were
    tingling they were so cold. I dumped the water out of
    my waders and was pleasently suprised how warm the
    neoprene kept my wet body. The raft was stuck under
    the logs pretty bad. I was glad to be out and ok but
    knowing that my tackle box rod n reel and 338 win. mag
    were strapped on the raft made me sick. But we needed
    to get out of there. After fighting the current and
    the branches about 40 minutes we got the raft free.
    We put back in the main channell with everthing we
    started the day with minus one oar off of my raft. I
    question god why I made it out but I also thank him.
    I wasn't gonna let my boys grow up with out me! I was
    about 2 seconds away from taking my lungs full of
    Kenai River. Austin said it was the most helpless
    feeling he had ever been faced with he heard me yell
    looked over and saw me flip over faster that all hell.
    He didn't know what to do, jump in or go out on the
    logs. He saw my hand from the wrist up grabbing for
    life trying to get anything in its grip. Yelling my
    name telling me to hold on he is comming. Then he saw
    the unthinkable my hand didn't come back up.
    Thankfully that was because that is when I pushed away
    from the raft and went with the current. We play in
    the great outdoors Summer, Fall, Winter, and Spring
    having the opportunity to things most people only
    dream about. Eventually something is bound to happen,
    thankfully I am here to tell my story. Love always,
    Josh

  6. #6
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default You have a mission, friend.

    Quote Originally Posted by Git-r-done View Post
    ...I question god why I made it out but I also thank him. I wasn't gonna let my boys grow up with out me! I was
    about 2 seconds away from taking my lungs full of Kenai River...
    Josh,

    Your experience brings home a point all of us think about from time to time. The truth is that your experience is a reminder that each day is a gift. I'd be willing to bet that many things you once thought important didn't mean as much, and some things you'd taken for granted meant much more to you right after that situation.

    I am so glad you made it out of there alive, and that your boys still have their father. Rivers are extremely dangerous and often the only difference between a lazy day floating along in the summer sun and complete disaster is a couple of turns of the oars. I see a LOT of inexperienced / unskilled folks on the upper river and the only real surprise is that we don't have more fatalities.

    The logjam I'm talking about in this thread will get someone killed before the end of the year, I'm pretty sure. With that one, experience is irrelevant because you're in it with little notice that it's coming. I've floated that channel dozens of times, and the current is pretty swift there.

    Thanks for the story; it's a great perspective-builder. Hold those boys close and teach them well.

    Best regards,

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  7. #7

    Default

    If this section of the river is literally life threatening why doesn't someone put up a warning sign at the head of the channel?

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    Default I agree Michael

    I take that channel 75 percent of the time Im on the river. A fun channel in the fall to fish. I totally agree with you on your comments. I flipped a canoe on a peninsula lake about 15 years ago with my father. It was about 5 days after the ice went out. We had out float coats and they saved our life. Got us to the shore and we made it to the camper after about 20 minutes in the water. Also the buddy system worked we kept each other going.

    To the last post. I believe they have posted signs. I did not float this weekend but I heard it was trying to be done. I hope they posted them far enough up though. Once your in the current it will take you to the far left and your in the channel.

    I also hope that anyone who gets pulled into the channel or takes it does have enough time to get to the shore or the point on the corner. I have a feeling a few boaters and fisherman might try to get rid of it soon if they are allowed by the Feds.
    Just my lost thoughts.
    Chuck

  9. #9
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default A possible answer

    Quote Originally Posted by Water_Gremlin View Post
    If this section of the river is literally life threatening why doesn't someone put up a warning sign at the head of the channel?
    I don't know the legal reasons but I've been told that if the government puts up a sign once, they obligate themselves indefinitely. Years ago there were questions about this concerning the dangers of the Cook Inlet mud flats, and the answer was that if a sign blew down, the state would incur a liability if someone was hurt out there afterwards.

    All that aside, if a good samaritan were to put up a sign at the beginning of the fork, I doubt that anyone would take it down. Better make it big and simple though- not a lot of time for reading when you go through there, and the print better be large enough to be read from a hundred yards or so!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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    Default Tell you what Michael

    Im not fishing over the holiday weekend but Im going down for the 13-15th for floating with the wife. Im gonna make one and post it. If there are plenty posted ill tuck it in the raft and carry it out. Im gonna make a 3x5 and laminate it and post it just as you round guard rail corner. If i hear the sweeper is gone or like I said plenty of signs posted ill just carry it out. It is the least any of us can do for each other.

  11. #11
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    Default Update Monday 6pm

    I just spoke with a guide on the Kenai. I am told the channel that is blocked it a channel just before you hit windy corner. Left side is correct and as Michael said Domanic told me that there is still a boat and equipment in there. He stated it is very very nasty and to avoid it period. Dont even try to get in there to cut it down. Leave it to the Feds or the pros. Just sharing the info hope it helps
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  12. #12
    Member silencekills's Avatar
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    Default update

    Anyone know if this channel is still blocked? Planning on floating it in my one man cataraft. Thanks in advance.
    JW
    Women never look so well as when one comes in wet and dirty from hunting

  13. #13

    Default Anyone know if this sweeper is still a problem?

    May be running the Upper this weekend and want to know if this is still a hazard. Anyone been down lately?


    -puter

  14. #14
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Yup

    Quote Originally Posted by puterboy View Post
    May be running the Upper this weekend and want to know if this is still a hazard. Anyone been down lately?


    -puter
    Puter,

    As far as I know it is still there. Unless the ice blows it out next spring, or unless someone manages to cut it out, it's there for a while.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

  15. #15

    Exclamation Log Jam Location!

    I've been told by one of the guys that lost his boat in this jam, that the location shown on earlier posts, is incorrect.
    We never really grow up, we only learn
    how to act in public

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    Member TruBluTex's Avatar
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    Default

    I was just on the Upper Kenai 17 July and it was pointed out by my Guide, showing the downed tree and calling it "Rainbow Alley". That jam was more than simply dangerous, it looked deadly...

  17. #17

    Default ?

    I'm confused where this log jam is. I floated this weekend, and didn't see any log jam. Is it at the first Y in the river, when you make a left turn down from the power lines or is it down further ? I saw lots of boats floating in to the left, but I decided to stay to the right. I went through the last left turn at the end that puts you out across from jims and there's a tree laying across the river where you have to oar across in front of it, but nothing I noticed was dangerous.

  18. #18
    Member akriverrat's Avatar
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    Default upper kenai last weekend

    thought id share a couple pictures from last weekend on the upper kenai. these pics were taken about two miles up from skilak lake. my buddy took his attention off the river for a few moments to tend to a fish and this is the result. thankfully no one was hurt and the boat was retrieved with the big inboard after getting the proper permission to do so. the boat sat for a week and had some slime already attatching itself to the bow, some frame damage, and a small hole in the floor. not to mention the submerged outboard but all in all the boat came out pretty well. just goes to show that all the river gods need is a moment to make your day a bad one.
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    Default

    I was planning on floating from cooper's landing to Jim's this weekend.
    Is that run above the log jam?

  20. #20
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Nope

    Quote Originally Posted by dude View Post
    I was planning on floating from cooper's landing to Jim's this weekend.
    Is that run above the log jam?
    The logjam is along the route you are planning to float, but in a back channel that is popular with folks fishing for rainbow trout.

    Look at the map at the head of this post for the exact location, or risk mucho problemo.

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
    CLICK HERE to send me a private message.
    Web Address: http://alaskaoutdoorssupersite.com/hunt-planner/
    Mob: 1 (907) 229-4501
    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
    "I have climbed my mountain, but I must still live my life." - Tenzig Norgay

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