North Fork 40Mile
Has anyone floated this out to the highway bridge? I've flown in and hunted on the North Fork and now I'm interested in a nice float to take my daughters on next year. If you've floated it, where did you put in and who did you fly with? Thanks for any info.
I've floated some of the other sections of the Fortymile, but not the North Fork. Here is some info though: http://gorp.away.com/gorp/resource/u...r/ak_forty.htm
And here's a map showing the approximate areas where the rapids are: http://www.blm.gov/pgdata/etc/medial...ge.-1.-1.1.jpg
You will probably need to portage the Kink (class V, and sometimes unrunable from what I hear), but otherwise it should all be good in a raft. Canoes might want to portage the Chute and maybe the Falls if the water is up. The only other section to avoid is the Canyon section of the lower main stem, and then only at very high water. Normally the Canyon is quite easy, but high water makes it dangerous, and there is no way to portage it, and perhaps not even scout it. There have been some changes in that section in the past few years that make it potentially fatal. Just don't go past the Fortymile bridge (on the way to Eagle) if the water is too high.
The usual put in is at Joseph Airstrip on the Middle fork, and float that to the junction with the North Fork. From what I've read in the past the usual air support is from Tok. I'd look for a flight service there. The other options are road access to the Mosquito or South Forks, or to start at the Fortymile Bridge and float to Eagle. They are all very nice trips. I think the Fortymile is my favorite float trip in all Alaska.
Here's my short write up about it: http://paddling.jimstrutz.com/page8.html
And a few of my pictures: http://paddling.jimstrutz.com/images...ile-index.html
Great photos Jim,
Thanks for reducing the size so they don't take for ever to load. Looked like a fun trip. Does that get a lot of traffic during hunting season?
I fell in love with the North Fork on my moose hunt. The area is awesome. I know that 40Mile Air offers a hunt using this route, but it's usually booked well in advance. I'll give them a ring and see what we can do for July next year. If it's a Cub only dropoff it may be too expensive. With a 206 I could afford it.
Jim, thanks for the links. I've read them in the past. You have a great sight and good info.
I doubt the Middle and North Fork get much traffic due to the cost of flying in, and I doubt any powered craft could get up past the Kink, so anyone up there should have the place to themselves, or nearly so. The South Fork, and the main stem (starting where the North & South Forks merge) have several placer miners with jet powered river sleds (and a couple air cushion boats for really low water times). These are the more commonly floated sections too, so you might (but probably won't) see another raft group in there. Other than the occasional mining camp Fortymile has a very isolated feel to it, with some interesting artifact viewing as well.
If there is anyplace in AK that could become a major tourist floating destination, this is it. It has it all: Warm interior weather (and warm water too), (semi) clear water, good fishing, great campsites, a little splash every now and then, interesting history & geology, and the option to make it an international float in conjunction with the Yukon River. All it would take is a good marketing campaign and a way to work within the limits of the Wild & Scenic River designation. Every floater ought to give this river a try some time in their life.
40 Mile Canyon Has Changed
we floated the 40 mile last week in open canoes. the canyon has indeed changed, big time. it appears that 2 landslides occurred at the second "drop" in the canyon. the first "drop", by the pyramid rock at the start of the canyon is unchanged.
the landslides appear to be exactly opposite of each other. the result is that the canyon has narrowed down ~50% at this point. the walls on each side of the new constriction appear to be VERY unstable and i suspect more will be sliding down as rains and gravity permit.
when we got to the canyon gauge was at 74.2' or around 5,000 cfs. we were able to line, with difficulty, on river left. one could also portage, with some difficulty, on river left—lots of lose rocks.
at median (2,500 to 3,500 cfs) water levels i suspect one could run the rapid itself. but, at 5,000 cfs it was right on the edge of being runnable.
with another 2' (maybe less) of water the ability to line/portage the rapid would be greatly diminished if not eliminated entirely. i would HIGHLY advise against open canoes entering the canyon at any water level greater than 75'.
rafts should have no difficulty at those levels. but, at high water—here is a description of rafter who went through last july 2nd (gauge 79.98, 18,400 cfs):
"""""""High water description: The rapid approach comes fast...leaving about 4-5 seconds to pick a line. At the water level
that my boat hit it, (apx. 10-12 vertical feet above normal), this is what I
observed as I rounded the bend. Horizon line/massive pourovers on both
river left and river right. At the bottom of the 'V' was a turbid frothy
hydraulic with a very deep hole. Immediately on the river left and river
right and downstream sides of the hole were 10-15 foot waves that were
curling/breaking on the tops. My first instinct, was this was unrunnable
and I was going to flip. 2 seconds later, I noticed a runnable line on
river right if I could break the laterals on the river right side of the
'V'. There was no obvious run on river left or center. So, I pointed my
stern toward the laterals on river right and pulled like a banchy, barely
passing the river right pourover, but avoiding the frothy hydraulic at the V
point. The river right line against the canyon wall was turbid with strong
eddies and large whirlpool sucker holes, but it was runnable. The 10-15
foot tall wave train continued for apx. 15 waves...all were breaking and
unrunnable...similar to the waves in Hermit rapid on the Colorado River in
Grand Canyon at high water. I would rate this rapid as a 5 to 5+ at this
water level. """""""
i've posted a video clip of the rapid when we were there (gauge of 74.2') on youtube:
I'd be looking to pull out at the highway, so it appears that the Kink is the major obstacle I am looking at.
correct, the canyon is downstream from the last taylor highway bridge. i figured you would be pulling out there, but the canyon rapid has changed so much that i thought i'd make sure that folks on this board are aware of it.
at high water it sounds like it is very very difficult even for rafts—i'm assuming most recreational rafters are not skilled enough to be running class V or V+. dumping at the canyon at those levels could be deadly. (11 folks have died in the canyon in the past, and, that was *before* the new landslides have made the canyon far more difficult.)
i don't remember if you mentioned where you are from. but, if its near fairbanks the best way to get to the north fork is to use Wright's. they have a helio that is ideal for that airstrip at joseph and it carries a great deal more than a cub. (i don't know if they can get a 206 in there now or not. years past it was pretty much only a super-cub strip.)
I was into Joseph in a 206 in 2006 with 40 Mile Air on my way out of my moose hunt. I really want to float the North Fork (even with it's lower water) because I really like the country up there. Thanks for the info.