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Thread: Gerstle Float?

  1. #1

    Default Gerstle Float?

    I am curious if anyone has floated the Gerstle before. If so, did you have much dragging, sweepers, or anything else to worry about? Thanks!

  2. #2
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default

    No dragging unless your an inexperienced rafter. No sweepers generally. It is a glacial, 36 degree, river.
    Approx half way out (or up) the river there is a series of three ox-bow, high wallled canyon bends with excessive rapids. They can not be reasonable or easily portaged around. About three or four hours after the sun comes out on warm days these ox-bows become class V or VI. On cool days in Sept they might still be class III or IV. This is N0- S___ rafting. The entire upper river is usually rougher than you might expect. From the air it looks do-able. Down at water level, if your an experiences rafter, listen to your survival instincts. On cool days most of the river is a standard Class II or III braided glacial Alaskan river. Very raftable, and can even often to crossed at the braided areas with the aid of a stout wading staff. But if the sun is out and those glaciers get warm that river is gonna rise fast. In addition, one year recently we had a six day rain storm, the perfect storm, and the river raged for an additional week.

    I have rafted hundreds and hundreds of hours and thousands of glacial river miles...and I would generally not choose to put my gear on the river.

    Dennis
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  3. #3

    Default Gerstle

    Would there be any way to portage light Kayaks or a raft up to a nearby trail to bipass the narrow section? Thanks for your advice!

  4. #4
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    Smile weather

    Well I have never floated the Gerstle, but to add to what ATA knows about the river, the weather in the Alaska range can be bad. if you are talking about during Fall hunting season that whole area of the Alaska Range was flooding last Fall. And two or three years before that the area was flooding to the South and everything was running high. And five years ago I was in the Alaska Range and it was monsoon rains and we had difficulty crossing the rivers. So it sounds like planning specific hunt dates and/or doing a plane drop off (so no alternatives) would both be difficult for that float. I guess if the weather got bad you could always hike out and send a plane to pick up your raft....
    I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear

  5. #5

    Default

    I know what your thinking bud, (DS tag), and the plan aint a good one for that river, too many hazards and the water levels are highly unpredictable in the fall.

  6. #6

    Default Gerstle

    I took my 6 wheeler up the Gerstle from the bridge last year. Actually got quite a ways up into where it runs through the hill. I decided that we weren't going to make it as I was crossing the river with water over my seat. My buddy was having a heck of time with his 4 wheeler as he would actually end up "floating" down river quite a ways and it was iffy on take out points across the other side. I then ran around and all the way to the glacier with the atv. I honestly don't see any problems with it as a float. All the flow will be in one channel through the hills. I couldn't see it being more than about 5 miles through there and wouldn't take that long. I did not see any sweepers in the area I was in just some large boulders. I personally wouldn't hesitate to float it, but have floated enough rivers to know what I can do.

    ATA probably has a better understanding of the river, but from what I personally saw on the lower end, the middle that I was in, and then studying the middle of the river from the hill above and then crossing it multiple times to get to the glacier, I would float it. The middle of the river would be the ONLY "interesting" part of the float. The rest is braided enough that it won't cause any trouble.

  7. #7
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default River Research Tip

    If you are near Anchorage, stop by the Federal Building downtown. The entire fourth floor contains the BLM offices, including an area where high resolution color infrared (CIR) photographs can be found of the entire state. These photos are so sharp you can see individual trees. Though they were taken many years ago, they do offer a great way to determine the location of rapids and such. If I were tackling any new river, I'd check it out with the CIR maps for sure; it's like floating the river without getting into an aircraft.

    Hope it helps!

    -Mike
    LOST CREEK COMPANY: Specializing in Alaska hunt consultation and planning for do-it-yourself hunts, fully outfitted hunts, and guided hunts.
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    "Dream big, and dare to fail." -Norman Vaughan
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  8. #8
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Default Gerstle float out

    Everybody is correct!

    I communicated with Jim, the original thread poster, and this is what we came up with....

    Everything that everybody wrote is mostly correct, and part of what I posted was "overly protective". We concluded that the upper 2/5 and the lower 2/5 of the river is a standard braided glacial river within a large, wide standard glacial river flood plane. Therefore, under normal conditions during August that river should be very raftable. That middle 1/5 section "in the bends" should still deserve some additional caution.

    Under high water conditions, either excessive sunshine (is there such a thing as excessive sunshine in AK?) or heavy rain, the entire river needs greater caution, as many of us posted.

    We also agreed that my original post was possible over-cautious because 1)I have had some near-death cold water immersions before in 37 degree water before, or 2) as a guide, I error on the side of safety so my million dollar insurance policy does not get paid out, and so that policy does not cost me more in the future, or 3) I suggested it is such a fine area that I wanted him to stay out of there. Jim did not believe my last reason.

    In any event, lets all watch them there glacial rivers on the hot days and on the rain days. Be careful in that middle section with the cliffs.

    Dennis
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  9. #9
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    Default Gerstle

    Well, the hunters I talked to who floated it last season (during the floods) described an experience that I would not want to repeat. I dont think they are planning on doing it again any time soon...
    I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear

  10. #10
    Member AlaskaTrueAdventure's Avatar
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    Lightbulb G R float

    Sollybug,

    I would like to contact those that have floated the Gerstle River. Are they on the forum? Could you PM me their telephone number? Can I PM you with my tele number?

    I do believe Jim needs to speak with them also. I have communicated quite a bit with Jim on this hunt, and I have been in there several times....need this first hand info.

    Thanks in advance,

    Dennis
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