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Thread: Talkeetna Canyon

  1. #1

    Default Talkeetna Canyon

    Hi all,
    Great forum, great info. Thanks.
    A friend and I are floating the Talkeetna Canyon on 7/9. We are actually being dropped at Murder Lake on 7/7. I've heard all the big talk re: this float and usually get the most animated responses from people that have never run it. I would love to get some first hand knowledge from the people on this board, that have run it. Has anyone floated it this summer? Last summer? Any info will be much appreciated. BTW, we will be in a 14' NRS Rivercat(25" diameter tubes) with drysuits, helmets and all the safety bells and whistles. I have run paddle crews down Class V water and am pretty comfortable on the sticks. I, like all of us, can have my ass handed to me by the water Gods, so I am not over confident or cocky. The big ? for me is: Is the water that big or is the concern more related to its remote wilderness/canyon setting? Anyway, the anticipation is eating me up and any discussion re: this run will make my day at work that much more enjoyable.
    Thanks again, abel6wt

  2. #2
    Member AK Troutbum's Avatar
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    Default Talkeetna canyon

    Ya, I've floated it. The last time was about 10 years ago though. Prairie Creek is a beautiful little fishery and about 10 miles long before you dump into the Talkeetna. The canyon, as with many canyons, can change drastically depending on cfs. Typically in mid summer the canyon wouldn't pose much of a problem for an experienced oarsman/woman, class IV+, but again, during large volume times can be pretty hazardous for even the most experienced. The last time I floated it was in early July, the conditions were perfect and I was in a 12' Aire Wildcat alone. I wasn't alone on the trip, just in my raft. I had no problem and the trip was a blast. As it turned out this was and has been probably the most enjoyable float/fishing trip I have ever had

  3. #3
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    Default

    Here's my write up on it: http://paddling.jimstrutz.com/page12.html

    And here's a story of my first trip on it: http://paddling.jimstrutz.com/page34a.html

    I put in at Murder Lake the last time I did this, and think it is the best solution for rafts or or kayaks. There can be plenty of bears in there, but they are intimidated by the size of the boat with people in it, so they generally give you plenty of room. Carry a can of pepper spray though.

    I would rate it at a class V- at most levels, but I wasn't in a 12' Wildcat. That had to be fun.

    The last time I ran it at high water in two 16' self bailers, and I found plenty of really huge holes that were intimidating, but far from technically difficult. The other raft dropped two people into Toilet Bowl, so I was a bit on edge after that. Turns out I was too nervous going through the Sluice Box and tried to avoid everything possible. That got me into trouble, as I slowed down too much trying to maneuver around a hole that I could not avoid. We surfed the back side, slipped sideways and tipped enough to drop two clients into the drink. They had drysuits on and thought it was fun, but it wasn't in my plan book. It would have been easier to just run down the middle and slow for nothing. Which was what I did from then on. There was nothing in it that would flip a loaded 14-16' boat as long as you were lined up straight. However, a half loaded 14' SB would have made it a lot easier to avoid those big holes to begin with.

    At low to normal levels it's actually quite easy, but requires more maneuvering. The problem is flipping in the Sluice Box may necessitate a long swim, as there are few places to pull over, or swim to, and rescue would be difficult. Sounds like you have plenty of experience to do this, and it is one of Alaska's best raft trips.

  4. #4
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    Smile Talkeetna Canyon part1

    Over the years... I’ve made more than a few runs on this stretch of the Talkeetna River. The Canyon is a pure "class IV" at just about any water level (not a V-) and for the most part can be easily scouted on the river-right cliffs overlooking the more demanding whitewater sections.

    When scouting - break up these sections in your route finding at first - then link them together... not over thinking... not over rowing... simply sticking the line you have premeditated.

    Here are the sections w/ route finding at all water levels:

    Pic 1 "entrance exam"
    ---RUN A CONSERVATIVE FERRY ANGLE (CROSSING FROM SCOUTING LANDING POINT RIVER-RIGHT TO LEFT) ONLY TWO THIRDS ACROSS THE RIVER
    --- SEVERAL BOAT LENGTHS ABOVE THE RIVER-WIDE HOLE CHANGE ANGLE TO DRIVE THE BOAT "FORWARD" AT A 45 DEGREES "TOWARDS THE LEFT WALL" RIDING THE ASSISTING PULSING TONGUE OF WATER AND PUNCH THROUGH.
    --- YOU WILL NOT HIT THE WALL DRIVING TOWARD IT -- THE SMILING SHAPED HOLE WALL TO WALL WILL CAUSE YOU TO SLIP NATURALLY INTO PERFECT ALIGNMENT TO TAKE ON TOILET BOWL.

    The next segment is a doglegged right turn after “entrance exam” within the same canyon. Toilet Bowl or UdiscoDown is really not what most say it’s cracked up to be. It is an irregular distribution of numerous deep-water boils/eddies --- unless for some reason you become in all actuality "impatient" within converging eddy-lines atop boils you won't get up against the walls that could cause wall kissing spins and possible flips. "Feel" the water under you, row ever so "patiently" and "easy-does-it", while maintaining position... believe it or not you'll very slowly progress through and flush out. Do something impatiently drastic to move on through is oarsperson's or paddler's error

    Pic 2 & 3 “sluice box” or “washboard”
    --- HERE IS WHERE YOU MUST STICK YOUR LINE!!! OR IT’S A LONG SWIM.
    ---COMING OUT OF THE TOILET BOWL, USE THE FLOW STAYING CANYON & RIVER RIGHT “GET RIGHT-SIDE” STAYING HIGH OR EARLY (NOT GETTING SUCKED TOO SWIFTLY INTO THE SLUICE) ONCE YOU HAVE DONE THIS, USE THE SMALL FALLS DRAINING INTO RIVER RIGHT TO KEEP YOU RIGHT.
    --- DESCEND INTO THE SLUICE MOSTLY RIVER RIGHT FOR NEARLY TWO THIRDS THE STRETCH.
    --- YOU WILL SEE A MASSIVE EXPLODING WAVE COMING UP QUICKLY MID CHANEL… YET ANOTHER BIG ROLLER SLIGHTLY DOWNRIVER FROM IT ON THE EXTREME RIGHT. BOTH HAVE BOAT-FLIPPING POTENTIAL AND HAVE VERY POWERFUL HOLES BENEATH THEM!!!
    --- YOUR ROUTE IS TO SNEAK PAST TO THE RIGHT OF THE MID RIVER EXPLODER & USE THE TAILINGS OF IT'S MID RIVER SUCTION & BUBBLES (CLOSE HERE BUT NOT TOO CLOSE) TO KEEP ENOUGH DISTANCE JUST LEFT OF HEADING INTO THE RIGHT SIDE ROLLING HOLE.

    The rest of the river is read - run - fun & no big deal.

    For reference... remember this is a Big-Water run! Pictures show the route indeed enough, but it is hard to show the full scale, flow and power of the rapid.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  5. #5
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    Smile Talkeetna Canyon part 2

    Over the years... I’ve made more than a few runs on this stretch of the Talkeetna River. The Canyon is a pure "class IV" at just about any water level (not a V-) and for the most part can be easily scouted on the river-right cliffs overlooking the more demanding whitewater sections.

    When scouting - break up these sections in your route finding at first - then link them together... not over thinking... not over rowing... simply sticking the line you have premeditated.

    Here are the sections w/ route finding at all water levels:

    Pic 1 "entrance exam"
    ---RUN A CONSERVATIVE FERRY ANGLE (CROSSING FROM SCOUTING LANDING POINT RIVER-RIGHT TO LEFT) ONLY TWO THIRDS ACROSS THE RIVER
    --- SEVERAL BOAT LENGTHS ABOVE THE RIVER-WIDE HOLE CHANGE ANGLE TO DRIVE THE BOAT "FORWARD" AT A 45 DEGREES "TOWARDS THE LEFT WALL" RIDING THE ASSISTING PULSING TONGUE OF WATER AND PUNCH THROUGH.
    --- YOU WILL NOT HIT THE WALL DRIVING TOWARD IT -- THE SMILING SHAPED HOLE WALL TO WALL WILL CAUSE YOU TO SLIP NATURALLY INTO PERFECT ALIGNMENT TO TAKE ON TOILET BOWL.

    The next segment is a doglegged right turn after “entrance exam” within the same canyon. Toilet Bowl or UdiscoDown is really not what most say it’s cracked up to be. It is an irregular distribution of numerous deep-water boils/eddies --- unless for some reason you become in all actuality "impatient" within converging eddy-lines atop boils you won't get up against the walls that could cause wall kissing spins and possible flips. "Feel" the water under you, row ever so "patiently" and "easy-does-it", while maintaining position... believe it or not you'll very slowly progress through and flush out. Do something impatiently drastic to move on through is oarsperson's or paddler's error

    Pic 2 & 3 “sluice box” or “washboard”
    --- HERE IS WHERE YOU MUST STICK YOUR LINE!!! OR IT’S A LONG SWIM.
    ---COMING OUT OF THE TOILET BOWL, USE THE FLOW STAYING CANYON & RIVER RIGHT “GET RIGHT-SIDE” STAYING HIGH OR EARLY (NOT GETTING SUCKED TOO SWIFTLY INTO THE SLUICE) ONCE YOU HAVE DONE THIS, USE THE SMALL FALLS DRAINING INTO RIVER RIGHT TO KEEP YOU RIGHT.
    --- DESCEND INTO THE SLUICE MOSTLY RIVER RIGHT FOR NEARLY TWO THIRDS THE STRETCH.
    --- YOU WILL SEE A MASSIVE EXPLODING WAVE COMING UP QUICKLY MID CHANEL… YET ANOTHER BIG ROLLER SLIGHTLY DOWNRIVER FROM IT ON THE EXTREME RIGHT. BOTH HAVE BOAT-FLIPPING POTENTIAL AND HAVE VERY POWERFUL HOLES BENEATH THEM!!!
    --- YOUR ROUTE IS TO SNEAK PAST TO THE RIGHT OF THE MID RIVER EXPLODER & USE THE TAILINGS OF IT'S MID RIVER SUCTION & BUBBLES (CLOSE HERE BUT NOT TOO CLOSE) TO KEEP ENOUGH DISTANCE JUST LEFT OF HEADING INTO THE RIGHT SIDE ROLLING HOLE.

    The rest of the river is read - run - fun & no big deal.

    For reference... remember this is a Big-Water run! Pictures show the route indeed enough, but it is hard to show the full scale, flow and power of the rapid.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
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    Default Class IV-

    Correction of typo: I meant to say class IV- not class V-. It's not nearly that difficult.

  7. #7

    Default Low water on Talkeetna

    Got another ? for those that have some experience running the Talkeetna Canyon. The river is near its all-time low right now and I fly out to Murder Lake in 5 days. I know I need to be concerned about high water. What is your opinion of super-low water? Should I reschedule and if not, is there a section that you would be concerned about during such low water episodes? I know Prairie Creek is going to be a drag, figuratively and literally, I would just like some idea of what to watch out for on the main stem Talkeetna. Thanks for any help. abel6wt

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    Default

    I've done Talkeetna at fairly low water, and it seemed pretty easy. There were a few drops that were quite boney, but they weren't hard to negotiate if you were paying attention. I suspect you will find everything fine except for Prairie Creek. Occasional dragging will likely be in order. Hopefully it won't require more than that.

    Check back in after you get back to tell us how it went.

  9. #9

    Default

    Thanks for the reply Jim. Well, right as I wrote that inquiry the river began to come up. As of this morning it is at a healthy 8500 cfs. I hope it stays right around there but the weather forecast has other ideas. We're expecting a bunch more rain over the next couple days. Since, i'm typing anyway, i'll ask another question.... What level is too high? What level is stay-home-high(in cfs, if possible). Thanks again, Jim.

  10. #10
    Member BRWNBR's Avatar
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    Default

    chances are high you'll have to drag a couple hundred yards between murder lake and where prairie creek actually starts (the fork downriver of murder about four hundred yards) from there on your water level will more than double and i've seen that river jump up 2-3 feet over night with a good rain. be ready to run across some bear carcasses if the fish are actually there yet this year, theres a guide that hunts that stretch of prairie really hard. have a great run!
    Www.blackriverhunting.com
    Master guide 212

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