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Thread: DANGER on the Upper Kenai- AGAIN!

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

    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; 05-27-2013 at 19:26.
    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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  2. #2
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    Default Sweeper

    Appreciate the heads up. I camped on the bank on the braid over the weekend and floated the channel indicated by the arrow. Must have been cut out? - no hazard present. I wonder if it is the second lower channel. Didn't see anyone take that one....

  3. #3
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default It's still there

    Quote Originally Posted by Thrillseeker View Post
    Appreciate the heads up. I camped on the bank on the braid over the weekend and floated the channel indicated by the arrow. Must have been cut out? - no hazard present. I wonder if it is the second lower channel. Didn't see anyone take that one....
    TS,

    I met one of the guys who still has a boat pinned in there- saw them on Sunday at the takeout at Jim's Landing. The jam is still there! I probably have the location wrong- it must be on the far left channel. When we floated by there on Friday I looked back up the channel from the downstream end but didn't see it either.

    If anyone can give me a better fix on the exact location I'd be happy to post a more accurate map. I'm very concerned that someone could lose their life in there over the 4th of July weekend.

    -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

  4. #4
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    Default Lost our boat June 20

    We lost our drift boat in the sweeper trees on Wed., June 20th. That may be the boat and gear that is still stuck in the trees, unless the current has trashed and flushed the boat out by now. Everyone made it out of the water. We'd fished and floated the river the previous two days, but hadn't taken the back channel.

    We floated down again the day after, staying in the main channel, to see if we could retrieve the boat and/or any remaining gear. We notified fish & game, park service, forest ranger. We'd gotten permission to use chain saws to remove the trees, but it was impossible. The water level had risen even higher. Amazingly, we were able to retrieve a net, a daypack with tackle, and a pair of boots. Couldn't reach anything else, or even tell if anything remained. We also notified the troopers of what had happened, in case anyone reported gear floating downstream.

    The sweeper consists of the big cottonwood and at least six smaller trees beside and underneath it. It's located on the lower section, approximately a mile above Jim's Landing, before the sheer rock face. Anyone who takes the back channel is screwed. You come around a corner, and there it is. With maybe 30 seconds to react, dropping anchor and backstroking are useless.

    We've been on the Kenai River since 1983, and have taken that channel too many times to count. We've floated many other rivers in the state, too, including the Lowe, Klutina, Gulkana, Matanuska, Alexander. This experience ranks, on a scaryness level, right up there with flipping the raft on a haystack on the Matanuska.

    We'll keep checking to see if anything is left...

    Peggy

  5. #5
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default is the map accurate?

    Quote Originally Posted by pspeters View Post
    We lost our drift boat in the sweeper trees on Wed., June 20th...
    Peggy,

    Could you click on the image in the first post in this thread and tell me whether I have accurately pointed out the location of the jam? I want to make sure folks have this dialed in accurately.

    Thanks for posting the encounter you experienced. A harrowing tale for sure; I'm glad you all made it out okay. Could have been much, much worse.

    -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

  6. #6

    Default Wrong channel

    Based on Peggy's description, you've got the wrong channel. Its the next one downstream that gets a whole lot less traffic because its quite small, especially at the end before it joins back up with the Kenai. It joins back up with the Kenai in a very wide spot and there's a rock wall on the river - I think actually on both sides.

    In this very same channel last August, I had two friends with me in their 9 foot cats. One is a very experienced rafter, the other not. We were staying together all day and usually when one guy left a spot, everyone else did. Well this time, the inexperienced guy left and we stayed behind. 15 minutes later we come down the channel and our friend is clinging to the backside of sweeper up against a cutbank, just sort of bobbing there. His eyes were the size of saucers. His raft, minus one oar and w/ a deflated pontoon is doing lazy circles in an eddy behind him. Rope was tossed to this guy, he was pulled in and we took him right across the Kenai, through the woods, and into a warm car. He was done for the day.

    As he relates the story, he went through the sweeper and was underwater for longer than he can remember. He was just about to give up when he popped up. Then it took everything he had to hang on in the cold water. All his gear was a loss except what he was wearing and the butt section of his rod.

    He was wearing a lifejacket.

  7. #7
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    Default The next back channel

    "Could you click on the image in the first post in this thread and tell me whether I have accurately pointed out the location of the jam? I want to make sure folks have this dialed in accurately..."

    The Cleaner is correct. The channel is the next one downstream, the smaller one.

    Peggy
    Last edited by pspeters; 07-06-2007 at 12:11. Reason: Quote marks

  8. #8
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default how's this, Peggy?

    Quote Originally Posted by pspeters View Post
    "Could you click on the image in the first post in this thread and tell me whether I have accurately pointed out the location of the jam? I want to make sure folks have this dialed in accurately..."

    The Cleaner is correct. The channel is the next one downstream, the smaller one.

    Peggy
    Peggy,

    Could you take one more look and let me know if the changes I made are correct? Thanks!

    -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

  9. #9
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    Default

    "Could you take one more look and let me know if the changes I made are correct? Thanks!"

    That looks like the spot.
    We're going to check on it Thurs or Friday.
    I'll report back if there are any changes.

    Peggy

  10. #10

    Default

    Is the bottom line, with the sweeper, that if you stay in the main part of the river, you will miss it. I have been past there a few times last year, but will be for the first time this year, next weekend. Would like to miss that excitement. Thanks for the post.

  11. #11

    Default Map has wrong location

    I was just down there on Saturday recovering my friends raft frame from the log jam. It is a smaller channel down from where you have it indicated on the map. Going down river it is on the left hand side, the entry has a mess of logs at the head but there is still enough room to get down there. The end of the channel comes back into the river just above the large pool upriver from the large rock face.

    The cottonwood across the river is HUGE, we walked back and forth on it and it is not going anywhere any time soon. We were able to recover my friend's motor and raft frame which was in surprisingly good condition. He also got the motor restarted once he got home!

    Be safe and if you are looking for life jackets, Alaska Raft and kayak is having a 2 for 1 sale for $99 on some good NRS jackets.

    Steve

  12. #12

    Default Please post a new picture/map

    If the original picture got edited great. But I am confused between the posts as to what braid the sweeper is in. The picture and the description aren't in sync. Could you post a new message with a new picture (from Google Earth) of the location please. I like to travel those braids and would appreciate missing this one. Thanks to all!
    Thom

  13. #13
    Member AK Tubes's Avatar
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    Question oops

    not sure how to delete reply...
    Last edited by AK Tubes; 07-24-2007 at 15:18. Reason: delete

  14. #14

    Default Alaskachuck

    I got a pm from you about the seat but when I try to respond it says that you do not accept pms. The seat likely belongs to my friend, Mark Laporte 242-3490, if you would like to call him and make sure, he would love to get his seat back. He is also missing his motor cover that came loose while we were getting the motor out. If anyone finds a new mercury 9.9 cover he is all ears.

    Thank you,

    Steve

  15. #15

    Exclamation Log Jam Location!

    I've been told the log jam is located where shown on the attached photo. well down stream from previous posted photo.
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    Default

    I'm drift the upper in about two to three weeks. Is the latest map in the last post acurate?

    Just want to be sure.

    Thanks.

  17. #17
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default updated map

    Quote Originally Posted by larrylur View Post
    I'm drift the upper in about two to three weeks. Is the latest map in the last post acurate?

    Just want to be sure.

    Thanks.
    Hi Larry,

    I updated the map today to reflect the actual location of the jam. Please have a look at the first post in this thread for that map.

    The story on this is that my information came originally from Jeff Varvil at Alaska Raft and Kayak. He told me where the jam was, but the information I had or posted was not accurate. Following that there were several other posts on this, but eventually I ran into one of the guys who lost a boat there (I ran into him at Jim's Landing on the upper Kenai after he'd salvaged his boat). He sent a revised map and that's the one I uploaded.

    -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

  18. #18
    Member AK Tubes's Avatar
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    Default Update?

    Any news on this? Looking to float the next few weekends.
    Thanks!

  19. #19

    Default

    You've got to be kidding about floating? Isn't the river locked in solid ice for most of the upper section? Even with the recent chinook winds?

  20. #20
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default check the dates

    Quote Originally Posted by AK flyster View Post
    You've got to be kidding about floating? Isn't the river locked in solid ice for most of the upper section? Even with the recent chinook winds?
    Flyster,

    The post you're responding to was written back in August.



    -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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