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Thread: floating willow creek

  1. #1

    Default floating willow creek

    I have a ten foot single man cat, and want to float willow creek. Is this a very difficult river to float? I've only manned a raft one time in a river and it was on the kenai for short stretches. I've heard of a lot of logjams but I'm not sure what part of the river they are on. And is there any place to put in above pioneer lodge? I have a cabin right next to there so would prefer to put in above there and take out at the lodge or a little lower.

    Remember, I'm a beginner and will be bringing a buddy who has no experience at all floating.

  2. #2

    Default Hey Griff

    Quote Originally Posted by griff View Post
    I have a ten foot single man cat, and want to float willow creek. Is this a very difficult river to float? I've only manned a raft one time in a river and it was on the kenai for short stretches. I've heard of a lot of logjams but I'm not sure what part of the river they are on. And is there any place to put in above pioneer lodge? I have a cabin right next to there so would prefer to put in above there and take out at the lodge or a little lower.

    Remember, I'm a beginner and will be bringing a buddy who has no experience at all floating.
    The willow is pretty well braided. I too am wanting to get out and float it here soon...was going to go today, but, wife is still asleep...her one day off this weekend so I don't have the heart to wake her up. Anywho, I am always looking for folks to float with....

    As long as you stay with main channel you should be fine. That said, the upper willow is different from lower. I generally float the lower, from pioneer down. You can drive up fishhook, and about 5 road miles up, maybe a little less, there are launches. I am hoping that King's will be in up there soon....Rainbow fishing has been slow during the spawn. Let me know....I have a 12' two person Cat....

  3. #3
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    Default Shallow with log jams

    I floated the Willow last fall; and It was an adventure to say the least. The portion that I floated was from Shirly Towne road down to deception creek. I took my 14' Cat down it with two other people. The water was really low and we had to walk my cat the majority of the way down. A little ways above deception creek is a really nasty log jam. The log jam is about 100 yds long and you have to portage through the woods with no real trail. It was a serious pain in the *****; especially, with my 14 cat. Once you get past the log jam the water gets deep, but the creek gets really narrow. It was so narrow that I couldnt even use my oars to steer. That used to be a really fun section to float; however, the flood that happend up there a couple of years ago really messed the creek up. I have never floated the lower section, but I plan on it this summer. Oh yeah, there is a HUGE grizzly that lives right there at the huge log jam.

  4. #4
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    Default

    I floated this section on Friday. Just up stream of the log jam you have a choice of left (log jam) or right. Has anyone gone right? I was told to go left and after portaging ended up pushing the boat all the way to deception creek. The channel to the right was looked narrow and fast.

  5. #5
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    Default Willow from Shirleytown

    I floated this over the Fourth of July weekend and took the tiny right channel above the big log jam(s). I was in a 15 foot Maravia SB, with my wife, a couple of her friends, and my kids (3 and 9). I had done this years ago and wasn't aware of the big log jam (should have been reading this forum more carefully, it was in here).

    In any case, I heard a little more when we were arranging parking with the folks at Willow Resort (who at that time didn't really have good info), and yet more from some folks at the put-in (who had run it the day before, and had good info).

    The river above the log jam was as I remembered -- swift and bony, but easily runnable at the flows we had over the Fourth. It was a great trip for the kids we had; we stopped on a nice island bar for dinner and everything was going great. (But I'm sure the flow is much lower now and one would be dragging a lot up there.) If I had taken out at an easement somewhere near the last house or two, it would have been a perfect capper to a sunny Fourth.

    But we kept on -- first spending some time at the log jam deciding if it was worth the portage on the river left braid, or to go down the very narrow braid on river right. The folks at the put-in had suggested right, but you almost can't quite believe its the right choice. Very narrow, with a guardian sweeper at the top. I bushwhacked down from the "island" in between for a few hundred yards and right looked cleaner so far as you could see, but it was clear that it was going very far downstream before it would come back to the main current (turns out it is at least a mile and maybe more before they rejoin).

    On the other hand, the jam on river left is at least a 150 yards of portaging, and I don't know what might be below that main jam either. I was the only big person on the trip (and I needed my wife to tend to the littlest one), so I thought I would just take a crack at the right braid (as suggested by the folks at the put in).

    They were accurate, the right braid goes -- but it is some serious work. There were at least three portages over jams or river-wide sweepers, all of which were a foot or two out of the water, plus there were dozens of other sweepers that required good skill and lots of ducking (and some people might prefer to portage some of them too). There was not much oar space, and I never stopped maneuvering. By the end of the trip, I had a boat full of spruce debris from smashing under overhanging sweepers.

    It was fun for the kids for a while. Sunny day and all. Dad working hard while they make fun of him. Ducking to miss spruce needles in the face. But eventually it just took a long time, and at the river-wide problems, I had to off load them to safe places while I horsed the boat around, sometimes in deeper than comfortable water. Water temps were okay, but if it had been cold, I wouldn't have been too happy after a while. Surprisingly, it wasn't too buggy either, although we all were wearing deet.

    In a few other places, I had to secure the boat and bushwhack down to scout -- because even though the current was not too swift (gradient is much less compared to upstream), I just don't take chances with my kids. I was being ultra safe all afternoon, which is fine, but it just led to a very long day that wore thin. As we came to what turned out to be the final portage (just before the braid goes under the railroad, but before it had rejoined the mainstem), my three year old wondered "what's the matter with this river?" (His experience on other rivers was limited to carefree trips on the Upper Kenai, Mat, and Eagle River). The answer, of course, was nothing. The problem was with the trip leader, who picked the wrong trip for this crew.

    I think we put in about 4 pm and didn't take out until 9. No way it should take that long -- and if I had been in my solo 12 or 14 cat it wouldn't have. Likewise if we had had 3 to 4 adults in the bigger raft to do some lifting around the portages (all were basically just in-river portages). But this is never going to be a leisurely braid to float, and new wood is is likely to happen in there going forward (its definitely an active alluvial channel).

    My advice is to take out before the log jam if you want the easiest trip (I'm not sure of the easement situation, but I think there are at least two places where "public" seemed to be hanging out that might work). But if you go right, be prepared to work. And no matter which way you go, be safe and leave the little kids behind.

    And here's the irony of the trip. The reason I chose to do Shirleytown was because I wanted to avoid having the kids and my wife help me haul the raft up to my trailer at the end of the Lower Willow float....

    I would be interested to know if anyone has done the portage on the left lately -- and how things were below what you can obviously see at the jam.

  6. #6
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    Default

    I have a 14' Kenai Drifter. After the portage the river was to narrow or to shallow to be in the boat. We had to walk along pushing and in some places dragging the boat until we got to deception creek and when we finally got there we decided to take out and walk along the road to the lodge and retrieve the truck. In a one man it would't be to bad but for a big boat there wasn't enough water.

  7. #7
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    Default

    Floated Willow Creek from Shirley Towne to the Parks Highway today. Water was nearly 2.5' on this guage: http://aprfc.arh.noaa.gov/ahps2/hydr...,1,1,1,1,1,1,1

    I was driving a 14' self bailer with two of us in it, and we had two IKs as well. Took us just over 2.5 hours. We went right at the log jam, and slithered our way through the narrow channel. We did not have to portage anything, but I was not at all sure some of those sections were boatable. Most of the last hour was not fun because of the tight conditions and brush, but we did make it in pretty good time. The IKs were far more suitable for this section, as would be an inflatable canoe like a Soar, even a Pro Pioneer.

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