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Thread: Danger still on the Upper Kenai

  1. #1
    Member Heg's Avatar
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    Default Danger still on the Upper Kenai

    I had not read the above thread about Danger on the Upper Kenai, but I wish I would have.

    Strahan wrote, " A large cottonwood log is bridging the main channel and there is no way to avoid it by the time you can see it. I have been through there many times and the current smokes along pretty good in there."

    We were fishing/camping on the Upper Kenai this Sunday/Monday. My 16' cat was loaded with 5 people (4 relatives from Montana) and a lot of gear About a mile or two above Jims there is a side channel on river left; the river was flowing high and there was plenty of water moving through the channel, so we decided to do a little exploring. After about 5 minutes of mellow floating, we all of a sudden had about 20 seconds before we hit the log jam. I pushed hard river right (hoping to get part of my boat on the bank and not on the log) and a couple of the guys on the bow were able to grab an overhanging tree on the bank. We all got on the high side and the boat stabalized. Two guys got out and secured the boat with a "crude" z-drag. All of our gear was secure and we did not lose anything or anyone. We were able to unload the boat, pull it off the log (I was impressed that my NRS tubes were not punctured), and portage it sideways through the trees to the main river in about 30 minutes.

    I have had mishaps on the Upper Willow, Matanuska, and a scary situation kayaking on a Kodiak creek; however in all those situations I was prepared for white water and my boat was not loaded. This situation sucked and could have been a lot worse. It is easy to become complacent when floating an "easy" river.

    Hope this helps someone.

    Heg

  2. #2
    Member Ridgerat's Avatar
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    Wow Heg...glad to hear your group made it out ok.

    The upper Kenai is a pretty mellow float, so its easy for me to get complacent. But this is a good reminder that things can change and EVERYONE on board your boat needs to be prepared and knowledgable about the possible hazards and how to handle them. Right at the last second is usually to late to educate your crew. I love the river, but if would ruin it for me to know someone got hurt or killed because I failed to prepare them for the conditions.

    I'm not sure if anyone has posted it already, but there is another cottonwood down across a back channel in the canyon on the right hand side about half way through the canyon (by the 1st big island that splits the main river). It is a huge tree half in the water and half out. The branches are to high and big to go over it. We ran into it last week end, but fortunately the water was shallow enough to get out of the boats and push them back up stream to the main channel. It is about waist deep there though and if someone were to fall they could be seriously tangled/strained under the tree against the bottom.

    I'll tree to make a niffty google map later if needed.

  3. #3
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Thanks for the update on the upper Kenai!

    Heg- thanks for posting this. I was sorta hoping that someone with some know-how had gotten there and cut that thing out. Someone is gonna get killed in there. Well, at least we know it's still there.

    Ridge- a google map of the other one below Jim's would be most appreciated. Though a lot fewer folks float that section, you could really help folks out if they knew where it was.

    Thanks, guys!

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    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    I floated past the entrance to it on saturday. The water is up and it does look very inviting again. I stopped and put a sign out last fall but it seems to have dissapeared. I dont know why the Feds have not posted anything or done anything about it. Nice to see my launch and parking fees being used for a good cause. Im not heading down for 2 weeks and wont be able to put a sign up untill then. With the water up it looks great and I can see why it is getting run again. Im glad everyone got out ok though. Of course the powerline is fine and I floated through the channel that leads out to the road side of mile 57 hole with no issues. Those briads are fine.
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  5. #5
    Member Ridgerat's Avatar
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    Default Google Map for log jam in canyon

    Ok, best I could tell on google earth...that back channel with the cottonwood across it is 2.3 to 2.5 miles down from Jims, on the right hand side.

    It was pretty hairy. For sure has potential to tear up a raft or worse.

    We were making a kinda late run down the canyon before dark on June 16th. Two of us took that channel and the third boat went to the left. The guy in the third boat said a huge brown bear came running out of the woods from between us and him. Apparently we scared it out of the woods when we were barking orders at each other back there. Getting jumped by a browny in the dark while trying to stay right side up at the log jam would have been pretty stressful.

    Anyway...I hope this map helps.
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    Member Ridgerat's Avatar
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    Here is a larger view of the jam below Jims referenced in the post above.
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  7. #7

    Default Let's Remove the Dang thing....

    Do you think a group of guys could clear this one with a couple of chain saws, come alongs, and other tools of testosterone if the spring floods don't break it up? I thought it might just be possible last summer, but I have not seen it since then. What do you guys think?

  8. #8
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    We are not allowed. From what I understand it is part of the natural state of the river. Fed Refuge too. You need permission to do anything that could alter the state of it from the Feds not the state. There have been offers to get rid of it before. Correct me if Im am wrong folks
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  9. #9

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    I guess someone has asked before and the answer was no. It sure has the potential to be a really bad spot for someone.

  10. #10
    Member alaskachuck's Avatar
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    It has been and still is. Two years ago it had a drift boat and a cat .
    Grandkids, Making big tough guys hearts melt at first sight

  11. #11
    Member AlaskaHippie's Avatar
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    It is off the main routes, and has historically not been an often traveled channel for a couple of reasons. It is bear scary, and it has almost ALWAYS had log jams and strainers/sweepers in it.

    There are plenty of safer alternate channels on the Upper that are just as productive without the associated risks.

    And Chuck is right. It's a big no-no to have a chainsaw party in the Refuge.

    Drove by there last Sat. and the river was open all the way to Guardrail. At that point it was locked up tight with a LOT of big ice pans and no visible water. Should be interesting to see what break-up will do to some sections below that ice jam.
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