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Thread: Forty Mile float

  1. #1
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    Smile Forty Mile float

    I recently finished Mr. Strahan's "Float Hunting Alaska's Wild Rivers" and was very interested in taking the Forty Mile river trip suggested in it for moose this fall but will probably try a scouting trip earlier with my wife. Unfortunately, we don't have a raft, only a canoe, and the only information I've seen about the trip are on the rafting forum so I am posting here to get some help.

    In the book the trip is described as Class I-II and ok for all boats. In searches in the forums that I've done, some of the replies in the rafting forum describe a rapids area just PRIOR to the take out at mile 112.4 of the Taylor highway. If I take my wife along on the trip I may further damage my already diminished hearing if she starts screaming just before we get to that take out. Since I'm getting too old for heart-pumping rapids in a canoe, I thought I'd ask for advice from this forum.

    The country up there is beautiful and I'd love to ride a river through it instead of the road. I appreciate any information anyone can give me that has recently run this river. Don't want any big surprises.

    Thanks
    Mike

  2. #2

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    mike,

    where are you planning to putin and takeout?

    -g

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    Default Put in Spot

    Planning to put in at Mile 49.3 of the Taylor on the West Fork, then to the Dennison Fork. Could also put in at bridge West of Chicken. Haven't decided for sure yet. First trip I'd like to start at the West Fork so I can decide whether to do a shorter one for the hunt. Either the lower or upper portion of the trip described.

    Mike

  4. #4

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    I did that float this summer, beautiful area. We were in our raft, but some friends accompanied us in their canoe. They are pretty green in the canoe, but they made it through that last set of rapids with nothing less than a canoe full of water. It would have been an easy portage, if needed. There are smaller rapids every couple of miles along that stretch of the 40 mile, but that last set is the biggest concern...depending on water levels, or course. I have some pictures somewhere, if you'd like to see them.

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    Starting as high as mile 43, you will probably encounter a lot of low water. Perhaps too low, depending on conditions. We took 4 days of slow floating from 76 mile to the bridge, but this was with low & slow water.

    There are also a couple of spots a few miles before the South and Middle forks join, but are certainly canoable with a little care. Just some squirmy water usually.

    The rapid you speak of is the only interesting water on this section of the Fortymile. At normal water levels it is probably class III, or at least II+. I've been through there twice, but both times at low water, and there wasn't much to it either time, but we stopped to play with the IK's for a while. I would not have tried it in a canoe, but I'm a pretty sad canoeist, and I have friends that wouldn't even stop to look before diving in. So if it's safe or not depends on your skills in a canoe. At high water this section, and several others could get very dicey in a canoe.

    If you have a GPS, or keep track of your position with a map, you should be able to predict when it's coming, as they it's only about a mile or so above the bridge. The drop is immediately after a hard right turn, so pull over and have a look before committing your boat. You can portage on either side, but the left side might be easier. The right side is probably best to scout from though.

    This is a great trip. Probably the nicest float trips I have been on in Alaska have been on some section of the Fortymile. The only issue I have with it is the 500 mile drive each way.

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    Default Forty Mile Float

    I can sympathize with the drive. Doing it from Sterling is a chore. Need to break it up next time. Thanks for the info on that last set of rapids. If it's a good place to portage, I'll make sure we do that. Especially when we are hunting and are fortunate enough to have some meat in with us. It'll be two of us in two canoes then.

    Any photos would be appreciated. That is really a nice area as some of you have noted. Thanks for the help. And that is a BIG help to know when to start looking for a trouble spot.

    Mike

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    Here's some photos of Fortymile. The haze was from a nearby forest fire. Pictures 17-25 are of that rapid you are concerned with.
    http://paddling.jimstrutz.com/images...ile-index.html

    I was just going over my notes on this trip, and it was only three days from 76 mile to Fortymile Bridge. The water was too low to do anything above mile 76.

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    Default Jim Strutz

    Thanks for the photos. That was a great help. I can see that there is space alongside for a portage past those rapids if necessary. Looks like you were all having fun. FISH TOO! That makes it even better. What were you catching?

    Hope to make this trip in the summer with the wife. Looks good in your photos. I didn't realize the river got that wide on the way. A photo is worth a thousand words................quite informative. Thanks, again.

    Mike

  9. #9

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    mike,

    jim's pics looks like what i would call moderately low water for that section of the 40mile. at that level you should have no trouble lining or portaging that rapid.

    at a moderate water level of say, 75' (steele creek gauge) you can still relatively easily portage it. and, as i recall, even at higher levels it should still be something you can get around rather than running if need be.

    one word of caution...you say you'll be taking out at the last bridge. if during your planning, you decide to make the "grand tour" and paddle all the way to eagle, please be aware that "canyon rapids" have drastically changed in the last couple of years. the pics that jim has on his website where taken before the rockslides in the canyon that have resulted in VERY different situation there. i would HIGHLY advise against canoes entering the canyon at water levels about the 75' mark. even rafts are in for GRAND CANYON (yes, *the grand canyon*) size waves when the water is HIGH (>15,000 cfs, sorry, don't remember the corrsponding gauge height.)

    the 40mile is one of those rivers with very little fload plain. as a result, the water can rise and RISE in a HURRY. so, keep an eye on it.

    -g

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    Default gulkana99701

    Thanks. I plan to avoid the rapids downriver of the bridge. I DID see some comments on those before. Hopefully we'll be able to take out at the bridge with no problem. I don't want anything to do with the canyon rapids. Appreciate your advice. These forums are very helpful. Especially when we can get first hand information. Thanks for taking the time.

    Mike

  11. #11

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    the reach from the bridge to eagle is well worth doing. in many ways its my favorite part of the 40mile.

    the canyon has always been the most dangerous part of that river. nearly a dozen people have drowned there—and that was before the recent changes. that said, the trick, as always, is to know one's limits, the limits of one's boat, and the water level.

    jim's pics are of what i consider to be an ideal level for canoeing. (i do love white water, but i don't do the 40mile for ww. i do it for the views.) my guess is that jim's pics show about 2,500 +/-500 cfs, and, at this level the water is usually crystall clear (depending, in stretches, on the price of gold...); its just a pretty pretty river. in the past, at that level, the canyon was very canoe-able. i suspect that even with the new realities that the canyon presents it would be easy to line, and certainly to portage, the worst part of the canyon at 2,500 +/-500 cfs. (speaking of portage...folks—do not think that at high water levels the canyon is easliy portagable. its not!!! it would require an *enormous* amount of work and at least a full day, if not days, to complete. there is no trail.)

    all said, again, one has to be cautious about the canyon. i went down the river last summer and from my observations the location of the recent rock slides appeared to be very unstable. could be that things will change again before next summer. so, for those thinking about the running the canyon—get a current report on conditions.


    -g

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    Default

    That's a good reminder, gulkana. I haven't been through the canyon since it changed, but have seen several warnings, and read one report of people being caught in it. From what I've read, at normal to low levels it still is fairly simple for rafts, but at high water it is a killer, and portaging or lining nearly impossible. I suppose the water gets high enough at times to make portaging these upper rapids quite difficult too, but then the whoe river would be a nasty churning thing anyway.

    Those pictures on my site are from at least two different trips, but the pics with all the smoke in the background are at 1200 to 500 cfs. The water was dropping as we went through. The other pics are from a little higher level, but I don't believe they were as high as 2000 cfs.

    I like the trip to Eagle as well. The diversity of scenery is more apparent, as is the diversity of water with the section of the Yukon. Of course, if Moose hunting is the goal, the Canadian section wouldn't be the best choice.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Strutz View Post
    Here's some photos of Fortymile. The haze was from a nearby forest fire. Pictures 17-25 are of that rapid you are concerned with.
    http://paddling.jimstrutz.com/images...ile-index.html

    I was just going over my notes on this trip, and it was only three days from 76 mile to Fortymile Bridge. The water was too low to do anything above mile 76.
    Awesome pictures and experience...I'd love to take my family down a river like that someday in our SOAR....I wonder if we'll ever be able to fly international (reasonably) with that 90 pound pack of kit....

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