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Thread: lions head trip

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    Member akprideinvegas's Avatar
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    Default lions head trip

    Hello all, i am looking at rafting lions head between 16 and 29 june. i have a gary king alaska guide series 16 foot kenai drifter. i have been on quite a few trips last year annd one this year but never too much whitewater. ive done eagle river and the lower kenai rapids but want to do a step up from all of those.

    i would like ot know where to get dry suits and helmets to rent. if anyone knows where i can rent these that would be great.

    also on the rafting portion is there anything i need to worry about. i will be paddling off of my frame. any help would be appreciated. vance

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    AK Raft & Kayak rents Drysuits, at least they used to.


    Quote Originally Posted by akprideinvegas View Post

    also on the rafting portion is there anything i need to worry about. i will be paddling off of my frame. any help would be appreciated. vance
    I'm assuming you mean you will have a oar/frame setup on the raft... "Paddling" in my mind refers to everyone in the boat having a paddle, no frame, no oars...

    However, the amount of experience you have related in your post would concern me. Not that you cant learn, but I personally would not run Lions Head blind, without following someone who knows the run. Its a relatively long constant stretch, lots of hole dogging, maneuvering required.. with limited chances for recovery if something happens early in the run...


    Here is flow info for Lions Head http://aprfc.arh.noaa.gov/ahps2/hydr...,1,1,1,1,1,1,1
    Another thing to consider, due to the late spring, it has not exactly come up to peak run-off yet... So that may coincide with your desired timeframe... I've run it up to 4ft, and its raging at that level.. Most of my runs have been more around 3ft..

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Lionshead whitewater

    The whitewater section of the Matanuska River, Lionshead, is much more serious than the other waters you mentioned. Lionshead is about 45 minutes of no-sxxt whitewater. It can eat-up experienced rafters. The water level/volume should be high, especially if the weather is warm/hot, during the time you mentioned.

    Just a few thoughts...How much weight will be in your 16 foot raft? Does the weight, your passengers, know how to "high-side"? Light rafts flip easy on Lionshead.

    Have at least one other companion boat...I prefer two... Have enough throw-bags. Practice your rescue and recovery drills with the entire team on some calmer water prior to attempting Lionshead. (There are those that have flipped and those that will flip.) I've wrapped a few rocks in there, pulled out several rafters with throw-bags in past years...

    I suggest paying for the trip with Nova once prior to doing it on the oars....'cause its a thriller.

    Put in at Caribou Creek. The gentle Caribou meets the Matanuska River and picks up a large volume of water as the Mat curves to the right in a large arc...then on "river right" take out on the last sandbar for a gaterade....when you get back in the boat you will hear the roar of lionshead prior to seeing it.... and its gonna be a "rush X 100".

    We used to take out at either the bridge, or at Hicks Creek, which has a lot of construction going on right now.

    Your gonna have a blast! Think safety!!

    Dennis
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    Member akprideinvegas's Avatar
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    ok well, i have been researching this for 2 years now, and really want to do it. im thinking i will just go with nova to check out the river and then run it after that if i feel confident enough. i would also be interisted in doing a group run later in the year if others wanted to. i do not have any other friends that raft. but thanks for the insight and if i end up going with nova i will report back. thanks vance

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    Ahh yes, Lion's Head. My first roll. I remember it well. -- Not too fondly though.

    You're probably ok if you run it at 3.5' or lower. At 3' there are more rocks and no holes. At 3.5' there are still some rocks to dodge and a few medium sized holes. At 4' the rocks mostly go away, and the holes get big. At 5' it's a no holds barred scream-fest. Wow! What a ride.

    I would recommend riding with Nova as well. Then the next time follow them through. They are usually pretty good about that, and if you get upside down in a hurry they can be very helpful.

    Here's my write-up on that roll I mentioned: http://paddling.jimstrutz.com/page32a.html

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    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Lions Head

    AKPride...
    How did the Lions Head trip workout?
    Dennis
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    Default Lion's Head update 8/3

    Ran Lion's Head for the for the first time today (8/3). Had so much fun we drove back up river & ran it again. Guessing the water level was about 3.7 from looking at the charts this evening. At that level is was fun & pretty straight forward in our big raft. 'Got to go back when the water is higher. First time we put in Caribou creek by turning right after crossing the creek bridge and putting in where Nova does so then took out on the gravel bar just east of the construction area where Nova has all their tents. This was a 1:45 run with no stops. Upon retreiving our trailer the Nova guys very congenially informed us that the put in we used was private property and that there is a public access area by turning left (heading east) just after crossing the Caribou creek bridge. I can see how we missed it because you have to make a hard left turn immediately after the bridge and your eyes much more easily catch the right turn. This public launch was a better option. The second run we took out just upstream from the second bridge accessed by driving down Keith's road. Does anyone know if this is private property and/or if it is OK to use this take-out. There were no signs. This second run took about 1.5 hrs with 3 brief stops. Both runs were great fun and the sun was out. My buddy decided to try his harshell kayak for the first time in a river after the bulk of the large waves passed on the second run. Flipped her twice but his pool practice paid off as he popped right back up. As far as the big raft (18' cat), there were no holes today that gave her any trouble as we hit all the big ones we could on the second run. Again, got to go back when the water is a pumpin'.

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    Default

    River right just above the second bridge is public land, and is the common take out for running just Lion's Head. So you found the right spot. The land surrounding the first bridge is private, and the owner hasn't proven to be very congenial. But the original gauge is on that first bridge. It's on the lower river right corner, and you can read it when floating by, or you can drive down and take a look before going.

    The Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center (http://aprfc.arh.noaa.gov/) has stated that the gauge on the internet is off about 6 inches or so this summer. They don't know how it happened, and are looking for several more observations to get it recalibrated. So if you are running it they would like you to stop, read the gauge scale and report the level and time back to them.

    Anyway, until they get that fixed, 3.7' on the internet scale (http://aprfc.arh.noaa.gov/ahps2/hydr...,1,1,1,1,1,1,1) equates to about 4.2'. A pretty sweet level to run it, and a lot of fun without too much danger.

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