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Thread: Sheep creek, anyone done it?

  1. #1

    Default Sheep creek, anyone done it?

    Some friends of mine want to do a trip down sheep creek at the end of may. Two experienced 3 novice all in inflatable kayak's with good gear. Is this a safe trip for us after a few practice runs down willow ect.. Thanks in advance!

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    From the highway to the mouth i'd say is pretty safe, upstream of there the water is fast and choked with sweepers and the like.

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    Member tjm's Avatar
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    upstream of the highway it is skinny with lots of medium sized boulders....I've done it in an 18' cataraft several times...very doable...you won't be very exposed as the water isn't very deep or rough....there are a few log jambs though...nothing like you'll see on the upper Willow....
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    Being that there are several Sheep Creeks in Alaska, could you specify which one you're referring to?

  5. #5

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    Parks Highway.

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    Talking Likely talkin' upper/upper Sheep Creek (Parks Hwy)

    I'm guessing you are planning kayaking the canyons section that is accessible by aircraft on floats into mountain top "kettle-pots" or way back on the ice w/ Supercub on wheels. You could also go by Heli.

    These are the only put in points on the upper/upper Sheep Creek for an exciting whitewater two dayer or more.

    If this upper/upper stretch is your plan... better off to be all experts!

    & NO!!! it's NOT a river for an 18' raft trip!!!

    No more is it for an 18' raft than steeper creeks like the upper/upper Willow or upper/upper Little Su out of Hatcher Pass!!!

    If you are going to float the upper/upper reaches... Anyone "telling" you they are running upper/upper Sheep Creek in any type of 18' raft is likely giving you false info --- boating merely little millage on some of the tame final portion well downstream of the boulder-congested, very constricted, and much steeper stretches up-river. Not saying it can not be done... just saying that most (even practiced experts) will realize that portaging such a lengthy, cumbersome load overland, down steep alder-choked ravine, and so on... or taking any real gear on this trip needing an 18' anything is just not sound planning. To boot, would also overload even the Beaver landing into the tiny, shallow snow-melt lakes. 12-13' is about max for a few hole shots... absolutely surefire thing you'll get hung up hard going bigger or heavier. Logistically - good kayakers 'n good kayaks... that's more like it.

    There are no such log jams in the upper/upper creek either!!! On occasion --- in the final 1/5 of the narrow canyon, whitewater section you may encounter single larger trees "bridging" the river (bank to bank across) and some of these will be limbo at head or boat height. They are mostly above the waterline - not in the creek. The creek is simply too swift in this section to allow much in the way sweeper or strainer to form at or below the waterline for any length of time. Log-jams of any sort are further downstream in the calmer water flats. They can still be dangerous tho'.

    No one has mentioned all the Bears!!! Put it this way... you'll have close "paddling encounters" in the upper/upper section of Sheep Creek. Mostly once Salmon get in the drop pools. I counted 29 brownies in a day. Some could have counted as boulders and movers midst the route finding.

    If you decide that you are up to the steeper very-swift whitewater, technical boulder choked and "super-cold" water... I highly recommend all of you being near expert intermediates (for real) or true experts. IF you are taking inflatable IKs or paddle cats... be certain that you use (at very least) the highest quality watercraft. Use a suitable PFD. Take along 2 top notch paddles w/ the spare strapped in. Strongly suggest full dry-suit, helmet, and gloves!!! Maybe think mouth guard, plastic pro for knees elbows, and shins. Comprehensive Emergency Gear!!! If there is mishap in the canyon there is not any easy means of walking out.

    Years ago mid '90s --- I was the first decent (with a partner) to "raft" this entire creek in an 11' paddle cat converted to oar-rigged (stubby full-diameter Carlisle oars) with a stout welded steel frame and full size locks.

    It's a Pros pick of a trip and a close-by hidden gem of whitewater --- requires the patience and fortitude to forge on down to the creek through thick mosquitoes, biting flies, and entangling alder ravine (unless you get lucky enough to ride an old snow slide or firm snowfield - much easier option early season if safe). When you hit the water... it's runnin' swift, ice-cold, and not much for warm-up. Ya better have your game face on in the whitewater... a screw-up could be serious. The water may not be too deep, too difficult, nor a whole lotta volume, but it is swift enough it'll knock you over if ya wade in just a little over shin deep. The character is physically demanding swift cold clear water with boulder dodging technical route finding (think river slalom). Sheep Creek is a great run because logistics involve only a 1 way fly out... put in and not see a soul - take out on the highway conveniently near the airplane base that got you in.

  7. #7

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    Thanks for the detailed info Brian. Sounds like it may be over my head with the very little experience I have. I like adventure but am not into death or serious injury all that much. I really appreciate your and everyone else's input on this one. Greg.

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    There is an ATV trail/road that will get you to the mid point of Sheep Creek. Maybe that is what tjm is talking about. I have done the upper part of the creek on snowmobile into the snowfield beyond. I bet it's a fast moving mofo in the summer.

  9. #9

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    Yeah I've been up that atv trail and yes the creek moves fast there. We would be dropping off at the very upper river and coming all the way down. I'm just hesitant being inexperienced and not having first hand knowledge of the upper river. I and my friends are fit and athletic but inexperienced in whitewater(3 of the party of 5). I would really like to do the trip, but have heard from several sources that it can be a challenge.Keep the info coming and thanks guys!

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    Smile Sheep Creek "and" Sheep River

    I wanted to give you a better perspective with regards to Sheep Creek's overall character... It is a steeper, technical creek run (but not quite ultragradient) that is pretty much constant very swift & very cold whitewater with big boulder dodging.

    At most water levels... running mostly snow-melt, clear water run-off of the Park's hwy Sheep Creek requires more advanced boating skills, the confidence/practice to run & gun without scouting much, and suitable for light, short, and nimble boats on the upper/upper float as well as the alder/devils club ravine put-in portage just to get in there.

    If you had mentioned Sheep "River" in the same general area,,, then I'd really caution "anyone" if they wanted to put in on the snout of the Sheep Glacier!!! This first stretch is class V+ to VI then into a constant IV canyon!!! Think Talkeetna River like canyon at 5000-8000 cfs estimated... only throw in more turns, walls are mostly mountains, lots of feeder creeks, and it is tighter negotiating most of the descent. Not to mention the first portages can take days even with super light gear + you could get trapped or flushed out in any significant rains.

    Tho' I have rafted the upper/upper reaches of Sheep Creek, I have not rafted the Sheep "River" yet... Made a survey in the mid 90's by air. I would say that two very skilled boaters, armored up, and r2ing it in a mod-cat could make this decent. However, any mistake early on could go very badly.

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    Member tjm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKDoug View Post
    There is an ATV trail/road that will get you to the mid point of Sheep Creek. Maybe that is what tjm is talking about. I have done the upper part of the creek on snowmobile into the snowfield beyond. I bet it's a fast moving mofo in the summer.
    Thank you AKDoug....That is exactly what I am talking about...I've done it many times in my 18 FOOT CATARAFT.....nice half day trip...no false info ever given here....
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    Where is that trail? I can't find it on the maps?

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    No way could you get me to haul a 18' cat down the middle section too many portages there these days, at least 7 in the first 4 miles, far from a half day trip in my opinion but more power to you if thats your preferred method.

    My previous posts were from the middle section not fly in and there are plenty of sweepers and cottonwoods still spanning the river, the spring after the flood we went up and portaged 12+ times we just quit counting. Some of those were only 20 yards but there are a couple long ones still. Im on it several times each season.

  14. #14

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    As far as the trail goes you turn on caswell lakes just before sheep creek lodge, and start taking lefts. Cant remember street names but there is a trail that goes all the way up the mountain, summer and winter.It parallels the creek most of the way. Stop a local and they can probally tell you more. It's a muddy one at times for sure though.

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