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Thread: Talkeetna River Prairie Creek

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    Default Talkeetna River Prairie Creek

    I am considering hunting near the confluence of Prairie Creek and the talkeetna river. I am looking at doing a fly in, drop off and float out using an inflatable 16' cataraft. I have never floated this river and am looking for information. I have canoed rapids on the henry's fork and bear river in idaho. I have done a guided whitewater rafting trip on the Ocoee River in Tennessee. It will be just my 11year old son and me. Has anyone on here done this trip? Would doing this put me in over my head? no pun intended. How bad are the rapids? What other water related hazards should I expect? Is there somewhere I can get some training? Thanks

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    The Talkeetna Canyon consists of close to fifteen miles of steep gradient, non-stop, continuous Class IV whitewater, with little room to maneuver. People do it, but you really need to be on your "A" game. If that's you, it could be lots of fun. Otherwise, you're headed for an "out of boat experience". You might talk with some of the commercial operators up that way.

    I'm not a whitewater guy, but some of our members are. They might chime in on this...

    As to the hunting aspects of that, I don't know what you're hunting but if I had to guess I would say moose prospects are probably not that great, and moving that kind of load on that kind of water... not a good idea. Especially in a 16' cat. You'll be way overloaded. Might find a bear up that way though.

    -Mike
    Last edited by Michael Strahan; 03-11-2016 at 12:03.
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    Can't say if you'll be over your head or not, you'll have to do some research and soul-searching to make that call yourself. I don't consider the rapids "bad", I'd say they are pretty good. The Canyon isn't all continuous class IV. Much is class III subject to water level of course, but there certainly are some class IV moves to make in there. A 16' cat is a solid boat for this run as long as there is some rocker in the tubes and is designed/setup for running solid big water rapids. Not recommended to do solo, as in a single boat. You'll want to wear dry suits. As Mike stated you have to be on your 'A' game and some training on the oars is prudent. I'd say if you can comfortably row lions head section of Matanuska or the Nenana canyon, you should be OK rowing the Talkeetna canyon.
    "The North wind is cold no matter what direction it's blowing"

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    Thanks for the replies. I have the dc590 tag and will be hunting caribou. I would also take a bear or moose if the opportunity presented itself. I would be hunting the south side of the river as I know the river is the unit boundary.


    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    The Talkeetna Canyon consists of close to fifteen miles of steep gradient, non-stop, continuous Class IV whitewater, with little room to maneuver. People do it, but you really need to be on your "A" game. If that's you, it could be lots of fun. Otherwise, you're headed for an "out of boat experience". You might talk with some of the commercial operators up that way.

    I'm not a whitewater guy, but some of our members are. They might chime in on this...

    As to the hunting aspects of that, I don't know what you're hunting but if I had to guess I would say moose prospects are probably not that great, and moving that kind of load on that kind of water... not a good idea. Especially in a 16' cat. You'll be way overloaded. Might find a bear up that way though.

    -Mike

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    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcnejs View Post
    Thanks for the replies. I have the dc590 tag and will be hunting caribou. I would also take a bear or moose if the opportunity presented itself. I would be hunting the south side of the river as I know the river is the unit boundary.
    You need a bigger boat. If you want to run a cat, I would advise an 18' boat. It hauls about what you'll get in a 14' bailer. Your 16' cat will haul the same load as a 12' bailer. If you were floating really slow Class I you might manage it, but with that whitewater, you're probably going to have serious issues with maneuverability. One moose will load up about 600-800#. Caribou about 250-300#.

    You might check on the caribou situation in there too. If you're putting in at Stephan Lake, you might be able to hike to them, but I don't know if Prairie Creek is floatable. Down at the confluence I'd be surprised to hear caribou would be that low and in the timber.

    -Mike
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    The book "River Rescue" by Bechdel and Ray, and the American Whitewater Association online review of rescues and losses plus some runs with a group of experienced boaters might help. There was an online video of that run somewhere. As a relative scale a guided trip on the Ocoee is not much help. A full moon Ocoee run backward and solo is the right skill set. Most river losses are first two hours with new boat and untrained boater so asking about training shows good sense on your part.

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    Thanks for taking the time to interact with me on this. I was looking at getting dropped off about 5 miles upstream of Prairie creek on the south side of the talkeetna river. I would have 12 days and was planning on using that area as base camp to hunt. Once all the hunting was done we would travel down river with all our gear and meat.


    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    You need a bigger boat. If you want to run a cat, I would advise an 18' boat. It hauls about what you'll get in a 14' bailer. Your 16' cat will haul the same load as a 12' bailer. If you were floating really slow Class I you might manage it, but with that whitewater, you're probably going to have serious issues with maneuverability. One moose will load up about 600-800#. Caribou about 250-300#.

    You might check on the caribou situation in there too. If you're putting in at Stephan Lake, you might be able to hike to them, but I don't know if Prairie Creek is floatable. Down at the confluence I'd be surprised to hear caribou would be that low and in the timber.

    -Mike

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    Quote Originally Posted by upstreamV View Post
    The book "River Rescue" by Bechdel and Ray, and the American Whitewater Association online review of rescues and losses plus some runs with a group of experienced boaters might help. There was an online video of that run somewhere. As a relative scale a guided trip on the Ocoee is not much help. A full moon Ocoee run backward and solo is the right skill set. Most river losses are first two hours with new boat and untrained boater so asking about training shows good sense on your part.
    Anyone looking for a copy of "River Rescue" can find it in our store AT THIS LINK. Perhaps the best book out there on the subject, and one most float hunters would do well to read.

    -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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    I'm not sure that you were asking about rafting through the canyon below Prairie Creek. But if you were asking about it, don't think any more about it.

    a 16' cat with any load would probably make it through the canyon in low water with an experienced boat captain, but not with 50% its load capacity.

    That idea has disaster all over it.

    I've rafted the canyon below Prairie, and it aint for the hunter-minded boater. Loads and 15' wave troughs are a deadly combo.

    But if you're asking about the section from Prairie Creek upstream...it's mild and flat water.

    Hope this helps.

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    The problem isn't the rating of this section, it's the potential water level at the time of the run, how much weight you have (drag and loss of maneuvers), and your skill level matched against fatigue levels. The error of getting forced into a "hole" or trough where you would otherwise squirt right past safely would mean entering a hole that is nearly as deep as your boat is long. The force of such a current will sober the mind in a way that few things on earth do with such speed.

    I guess I'm speaking from an experience I had on that river was pretty freakin scary. Sometimes you just can't avoid the force and become a consequence of hydraulic force. Bad things can happen quicker when you've got extra weight on a rig that is flowing at 10-12 mph with seconds to maneuver to an open route...some of which is guess work when the trough depth takes you below the horizon of the river itself. It's a strangely humbling experience.

    I'm normally airing on the side of liberal but in this case conservative is commanded.

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    Better plan a drop camp type hunt somewhere else in the unit. You'll have a better & much safer hunt. If you have the extra coin to spend besides the hunt book a trip on the Talkeetna with Nova River Runners. You'll have a blast and be under the safety of a guided/experienced group. I'm not associated with them although I've been on 2 of their trips and both were well run and a ton of fun.

    http://www.novalaska.com/alaska-wild...river-rafting/

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    Thank you all for the information. I was originally looking at fly in and out type hunt. I saw that I could save half the airfare by possible floating out on the Talkeetna. This would save some money and add another element of fun for my son on the trip. However after reading the comments on here it is clear that the risks far out weigh the rewards. I will just do a fly in and out type hunt and ditch finishing the trip off with a river float idea. Thanks again everyone.


    Quote Originally Posted by Birdstrike View Post
    Better plan a drop camp type hunt somewhere else in the unit. You'll have a better & much safer hunt. If you have the extra coin to spend besides the hunt book a trip on the Talkeetna with Nova River Runners. You'll have a blast and be under the safety of a guided/experienced group. I'm not associated with them although I've been on 2 of their trips and both were well run and a ton of fun.

    http://www.novalaska.com/alaska-wild...river-rafting/

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    My daughter had that tag last year and I fly that area constantly. You would do well to listen to everything people are saying. The upper talkeetna is an amazing place and that tag and hunt is a very good one, but there is no chance I would try and float the canyon with a load unless the water levels were ideal... And the risk even then is pretty significant. If it were me and you wanted to raft it, I would get dropped off as close to the headwaters as you can get a ride to, and then raft to an area somewhere above the canyon. Or do like we did and pick a spot for base camp near where we landed, and just hunt all around it. And then in your case, get picked up from the same strip. There are lots of big bou in that unit, but they are generally spread out and sporadic and often way up high. My daughter took hers at almost 6000 feet elevation and the river was 2300 in that area... Good luck and have fun!



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    That is a very nice caribou. I have given up on floating out. I will likely fly in set up base camp hunt from there and fly out. Thanks for the information.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hunt'N'Photos View Post
    My daughter had that tag last year and I fly that area constantly. You would do well to listen to everything people are saying. The upper talkeetna is an amazing place and that tag and hunt is a very good one, but there is no chance I would try and float the canyon with a load unless the water levels were ideal... And the risk even then is pretty significant. If it were me and you wanted to raft it, I would get dropped off as close to the headwaters as you can get a ride to, and then raft to an area somewhere above the canyon. Or do like we did and pick a spot for base camp near where we landed, and just hunt all around it. And then in your case, get picked up from the same strip. There are lots of big bou in that unit, but they are generally spread out and sporadic and often way up high. My daughter took hers at almost 6000 feet elevation and the river was 2300 in that area... Good luck and have fun!




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    The Talkeetna is a super fun run, but you should definitely have your stuff dialed. Last summer, I provided raft support for a group of kayakers and packrafters. The flow was on the lower end of medium, and you were able to sneak around most of the gnarly stuff. With that said, most of these sneaks were done in packrafts and not a fully loaded raft. I got surfed pretty good in Toilet Bowl when I abandoned safer line choices and followed my rowdy kayak buddy into the meat. The group before us flipped a fully loaded raft in Entrance Exam and lost a bunch of gear. There is a lot of time to recover a flipped boat after the top two rapids if you know what you’re doing, but once you get down into the “nonstop stuff” it would be a challenging to recover a fully loaded raft and reflip it, especially if you had a caribou in it.

    Here is a rough video I made of our trip that will show you the character of the river. I secured my GoPro to my helmet with Duct Tape (shaky footage). Also, the Lego movie was a topic of discussion while drinking beers on Prairie Creek, so I apologize for that too.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sk3itWhfSCg

    Start getting that cat out on more rivers and build up your skillset with your boy, mcnejs. I also have an 11-year-old, and the time we spend on the river together is special

    -Josh

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    Thanks for posting the video. That video was ... Awesome!!!

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    ****.. When are you going? Take my 16 foot round boat and a sat phone. When you get your meat I'll fly in and row you out. That looks like a good time.
    Chris

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    Thanks Chris! I also have a Delorme satellite communicator. I private messaged you. I was planning on going in on evening of September 2nd and trying to be home by the 12th. I could leave earlier.

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    If you've never been on a class IV/V whitewater guided trip I strongly recommend it. It's always better to have seen bigger water than what you are willing to row yourself. It gives you a new perspective and respect regarding the power of rivers. It will give you a better understanding of a class III/IV River like the Talkeetna. Plus...it's a ton of fun!

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    I'm relatively inexperienced in rowing big water, having just done a few float hunts on pretty tame rivers. I can attest though to the huge difference you get in responsiveness when your boat is loaded full. I think your revised plan is the best way to have a successful and memorable hunt, with the good kind of memories. But for anyone wanting to push themselves on a new river, your training should include running comparable rapids in a heavily loaded boat. Fill up the water jugs and toss in some sand bags until you've got way more weight than a reasonable person would put on their raft. Then you'll probably be close to how much a moose and camp gear will sink the tubes. With that kind of drag, a simple ferry across that you can usually accomplish in a couple of strokes now requires you to be rowing like mad. Experienced expedition-type floaters know this without even thinking about it, but for us inexperienced guys it's a good way to learn how different a river can be when the raft is submerged in it instead of floating on top of it.

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