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Thread: West Fork Gulkana

  1. #1
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Default West Fork Gulkana

    Does Anyone have any experience with the west fork of the Gulkana River? I observed that it was designated a Nat. Scenic & Wild River. There is a small unamed creek that runs west from the Tyone River near the Tyone Creek confluence that runs west and almost meets up with the West Fork of the Gulkana. It almost looks possible to do a small portage from that unamed creek, west about 1.5 miles to a lake where the West Fk. Gulkana appears to begin.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    Does Anyone have any experience with the west fork of the Gulkana River? I observed that it was designated a Nat. Scenic & Wild River. There is a small unamed creek that runs west from the Tyone River near the Tyone Creek confluence that runs west and almost meets up with the West Fork of the Gulkana. It almost looks possible to do a small portage from that unamed creek, west about 1.5 miles to a lake where the West Fk. Gulkana appears to begin.
    I heard a rumor that it can be done, but I don't know anyone that has done it.
    Wasilla Real Estate News
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  3. #3

    Default Re: Tyone to West Fork

    That is an actual canoe route. BLM in Glennallen has info. Don't know anyone who has done it. I read the BLM brochure on it a couple of years ago, I believe they estimated at least two weeks for the trip from Lake Louise to Sourdough.

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    I'm actually considering this trip myself. I'm part owner in Alaska Dream Adventures, a canoe touring company in Fairbanks / North Pole and we are planning this trip as a trial run. We're going to enter from Hungry Hallow off the Denali Highway and go in.

    Looks like a great run. We've been planning a minimum of 2 weeks for getting it accomplished. Should be some good fishing as well.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    blybrook,
    Hungry Hollow actually meets up with the middle fork of the Gulkana, not the west. In my thread I asked if anyone had any experience on the "west fork". There are two branches of the west fork. The north branch, and the south. The north branch will require protaging from an unamed creek. The south branch is slightly north of tyone peak and is def. navigable from the tyone river. Again, does anyone have any experience with either of these branches of the West Fork Gulakana? Im going to cut a portage trail going to the north fork from the unamed creek. It will appear to be out of the protected "river corridor". I will annotate it by gps coordinates in the near future.

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    My mistake. We've been planning both trips. The west fork is rated 3-4 with shallow runs; one river guide book suggests skirted kayaks only.

    We are looking at running it light with open Pelicans (15 - 16') and winter MRE's. Minimal gear.

    Sounds like a fun trip, good luck on the portage & cutting the trail.

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    I have a place on fish lake witch runs in to the west fork have done the trip many times . I have never gone from tyone but have gone up about 25 miles from fish lake. Have been down from dickey lake take a chain saw it has been 10 years since I have done this. I also have canoe at cross winds lake for rent to go from there.

  8. #8

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    <<<<The south branch is slightly north of tyone peak and is def. navigable from the tyone river>>>>>>

    if that were the case, the river would be unique, being able to flow in two directions at the same time!

    the map shows a connection, there isn't in any real pratical sense.

    i've paddled the "south" west fork (you pretty much have to fly into the "north" west fork.)

    there is no need for a chain saw. the longest, and driest, portage is from the tyone river to the first lake. its an easy hike through a lightly forrested area. there are usually remnants of flagging in the trees from those who came before, but bring a compass and/or a gps. after that its a combination float, slog, portage, slimey wade, etc. until you reach the "large" lake at sections 33, 34, 27. the best thing to do is spend a day getting to start of the first portage off the tyone. it'll take you a day from there to get to the "large" lake. camp there for day 2—the only camp spot i'm aware of on that lake is in the nw shore.

    after that the rest is all down hill. camps, at times, can be hard to find for the first few days—not too many sand bars.

    there is no ww to speak of. a couple riffles. nothing compared to the stretch below the canyon on the main fork.

    its a fun paddle. one thing about it is that you are out of the air corridors, which is kind of nice.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Hey gulakana,
    Thanks for the heads up. I read up on the two branches of the west fork and i did see where the north fork was designated a fly in only route. I am going to attempt to run up the unamed creek that ends in a lake that looks to be about a mile from another lake that looks to be the start of the north fork. If you follow that unamed creek from tyone river on the maps to the two lakes, they do look to be about a mile apart. Im going to attempt a portage and create a trail in the near future. www.scavengerbackwater.com (good idea 7mm!) I've included a pic of the two lakes so you will see the spot where i was talking about that could possibly be a future portage. Do you notice the the two smaller little ponds between the two lakes of interest? If you measure the land distance between, it's about 1.2 miles.
    Last edited by mainer_in_ak; 09-21-2009 at 10:20.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    Hey gulakana,
    Thanks for the heads up. I read up on the two branches of the west fork and i did see where the north fork was designated a fly in only route. I am going to attempt to run up the unamed creek that ends in a lake that looks to be about a mile from another lake that looks to be the start of the north fork. If you follow that unamed creek from tyone river on the maps to the two lakes, they do look to be about a mile apart. Im going to attempt a portage and create a trail in the near future. www.scavengerbackwater.com (good idea 7mm!) I've included a pic of the two lakes so you will see the spot where i was talking about that could possibly be a future portage. Do you notice the the two smaller little ponds between the two lakes of interest? If you measure the land distance between, it's about 1.2 miles.
    Funny, I was looking at this exact spot on Google earth just last week.
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  11. #11

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    <<<<<I am going to attempt to run up the unamed creek that ends in a lake that looks to be about a mile from another lake that looks to be the start of the north fork.>>>>>

    i really think you should talk with BLM in glennallen. the creek you are referring to is *anything* but something one can "run up". its going to be a 9 mile drag, literally, i suspect is more in the style of the bataan death march. so far as i am aware no one has "run up" this creek. you included a link to a site for "backwater" boat. is this what you think you are going to use to "run up" that creek? have you looked at the contour lines of this area on 63k map? you might, might, be able to DRAG a canoe the 9 miles to the lake. but, i really doubt there will be any "running".

    <<<<Im going to attempt a portage and create a trail in the near future<<<<

    again, please talk with the folks at BLM. i believe you will find that its illegal to "create a trail".

  12. #12

    Default I did this trip back in the 70s

    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    Does anyone have any experience with the west fork of the Gulkana River? I observed that it was designated a Nat. Scenic & Wild River. There is a small unamed creek that runs west from the Tyone River near the Tyone Creek confluence that runs west and almost meets up with the West Fork of the Gulkana. It almost looks possible to do a small portage from that unamed creek, west about 1.5 miles to a lake where the West Fk. Gulkana appears to begin.
    We used a 17' old town Tripper Canoe and there were just 2 of us. We rigged up a mast and sail from a black spruce tree and a tarp to sail across Lake Louise, Lake Susitna and Lake Tyone. In June and July at 4pm everyday the wind blows north across Lake Louise you can almost set your clock by it.
    That took 2 days we spent our second night on an island in the middle of the Tyone River just a little north of Mt Tyone. The little creek you're thinking off runs into the Tyone River and is too small to canoe.

    We Portaged the ridge on the south side of the creek, Using our compos (that was before the GPS was invented) and our Topo Maps, and triangulate off the peak of Mt Tyone, the, some well defined peaks in the Alaska Range and the next big spruce tree we had to hike to. (bush whacking)

    We portaged lake to lake to lake for a Long full day navigating our way around the swamps and along the ridge lines until we made it to the last small lake that had an outlet on the east end that flowed toward the west fork of the Gulkana. We spend that night on the shores of the last lake. Plan a long work day between the Tyone River the last lake that flows into the west fork of the Gulkana.
    I’m not sure if it was another night or two nights making it through the switch backs of this small stream until we made it to a large lake that was big enough to operate a 206 on floats out of. I think this might be Dickey lake but I'm not sure.
    All and all it took 14 days on the water to make it from lake Louise to Sourdough.
    Between that last large lake and Sourdough there was a couple stretches of class II+ to Class III rock gardens. There is nothing as exciting as the falls on the East Fork of the Gulkana but a bit more attention grabbing than the spots below Paxton lake and just below the falls on the East Fork.
    If I were to do it again I'd add another 4 days and take out at the Gulkana Bridge and cut the car shuttle down by that distance.
    I would suggest Canoes with out keels and more river designed. A 16’ to 17’ Prospector design canoe would be a great choice of tandam craft. Kevlar would be nice for that day of portaging.
    I hope this helps.
    Jim King
    Alaska Series Inflatable boats
    www.alaskaseries.com

  13. #13

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    jim,

    i think mainer is talking about accessing the "north" west fork. if i understand correctly, he's talking about going up the creek that comes into the tyone at 62:40.5 by 147:3.2, the creek you refer to is the one that drains from the "south" west fork headwaters at 62:34.9 by 146:52.2.

    i have also camped on the island you describe, its the "standard" starting point prior to the portage.

    i don't recall the rapids you describe, but that may be due to differing water levels, or, the fact that i still have relapses from that electroshock deal that i don't remember so well either.....

    i do recall never having to stop and look at any rapids.

    -gulk

  14. #14
    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Good info my fellow canoe people,
    This thread has been an immense wealth of knowledge. According to our discussion of this unamed creek, it appears that this creek may in fact be non-navigable. I have no map detail with me, all my usgs maps are at the house so i may check out those countour lines you speak of gulk. Jim, sounds like your portage to the south branch was ardous and exuasting. I bet you're proud of what you did though. Curiosity will probably get the best of me though, I may motor down there and bring my 15ft. Ally pack canoe in the freighter and spend a week exploring that unamed creek. It can't hurt anything, worst scenario.......i find it to be non navigable and see some good sites. Any time you have intentions of firing up a chainsaw you do have to get permission from blm. If your intentions were to cut brush/log jams, I wonder what they would think of that.

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