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Thread: Kenai Canoeing?

  1. #1
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    Default Kenai Canoeing?

    Ok, how many of you have ever canoed the Kenai from Sportsman's (Russian Ferry area) to Jim's Landing? I've done this multiple times with my wife and several friends as well. I have a "well-used" 18' Mad River Kevlar 49. Always wear PFD's and have the basic knowledge of how to navigate a canoe around bends and rollers to avoid sweepers and gravel bars etc.
    I was on a trip this week on my second day fishing for Reds on a gravel bar and a Fish and Wildlife Officer voiced concern for having a canoe on the river. Had "heard about me" the previous day and wanted to ask how I found running the river in a canoe. Seemed worried and nervous. I explained my experience level (not a Whitewater Guide but also not a beginner) and he just said to be careful.
    Needless to say, that encounter concerned the wife.
    Never had any close calls nor felt like it was dangerous but maybe ignorance is bliss. Anyone else have experience or thoughts on this?

    Thanks,
    Beamer

  2. #2
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    I've canoed that same section several times, a couple of times during relatively warm spells during winter. I use a 18' Old Town Tripper. It is an easy section of water--a few fun haystacks, a few downstream V's to line up on, a few sweepers to avoid. Nothing technically demanding. A very enjoyable float.

    So I'm with you...what's the big deal?

  3. #3
    Moderator Alaskacanoe's Avatar
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    Default Kenai river canoeing

    Over the years, many folks have drowned in Canoes on the Kenai, but almost all of them drowned at Naptown rapids area.
    That is the area below Skilak lake.
    The Officer would be concerned about canoes because there are many that have little skill that try to canoe the river.
    Just a few seasons ago, we have two canoes end up.. lost in the river below Jims landing.
    These 4 fellows rented canoes from us telling us they were going to paddle up the mellow slow moving Moose river.
    Later that evening, we got the call from Central Emergency services that these fellows decided to canoe the upper Kenai river from Jims to Skilak. They made it a quarter of a mile down the river, and lost the canoes. One fellow stranded on a Rock in the middle of the river had to be rescued by the CES.
    Embarrassing to say the least, and costly for them, as they had to pay for the wrecked and lost canoes.
    Wildlife refuge officers brought one back to me a week later,,, but it was damaged really badly and was useless..
    I am happy that you were checked out,, and asked your skill level..
    Cold water kills, and has done so ,,,, so many times, that Good caring folks will get involved and ask questions, and offer the most important suggestion and question in the world.... " Do you Have your Life Jacket on??"..
    Please don't be offended if a person cares enough to want you to survive.
    Max
    When you come to a fork in the trail, take it!

    Rentals for Canoes, Kayaks, Rafts, boats serving the Kenai canoe trail system and the Kenai river for over 15 years. www.alaskacanoetrips.com

  4. #4
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    In mid-may we had a party of 8 (4 canoes) launch with us from the bridge. The water was low but the did ok. They floated to sportsman. The did fine in the princess chute and the russian river corner. Would I do it. NO. I do not have that much skill or confidence in a Canoe. I have seen it done to jims a few times but life vests a must and skill would be required. For those of you who can do it Im sure it is fun but Ill just sit in my cataraft and watch. It is fun to see them go by though
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  5. #5
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    Default Funny Naptown Rapids story

    Me and a buddy kayaked the Naptown section head on last summer. The water was raging pretty good right there. 6-7' Rollers in the middle. You can avoid the rapids in naptown if you have some experience. But being the young guys we are, we aimed straight for them. My buddy was 30' in front on me, and ended up rolling his kayak. He had a spray skirt but it was torn off during the roll. He hugged the kayak for another 100 yards to shore. (No dry suits btw). He got to shore, started to strip his clothes off, and started puking from the cold/adrenaline. I got sucked into a small eddy on the other side of the river. I started paddling perpendicular to the rapids to the other side. I made it there fine and gave him my clothes. There just happened to be a small recreational cabin where he came ashore, and a long stairway leading up to a very large house. By now my buddy was shaking vigorously. I book it up the stairs (in my underwear) and knock on the guys door, he answers, says it happeneds all the time, and came down to the cabin. He warmed it up and gave my friend blankets. Fish and game came and made sure everyone was alright 5 minutes after. They were on their way to recover the body of a Californian man who tried canoeing Naptown Rapids. It had been 1 full week of searching for the body. Both the mans drowning, and our little incident made front page of the Peninsula Clarion.

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the input. I would never try to canoe the rapids! We were out for the scenery and the fishing. Just wanted to make sure I wasn't lacking in judgement. I was very glad the officer was concerned, but wanted a second opinion from you all.

    Thanks again,
    Beamerflying

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