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Thread: Packrafting in cold weather

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Question Packrafting in cold weather

    Has anyone ever taken their Alpacka (or other packraft) out in the winter? I've been kicking around the idea of floating down the Kenai some weekend soon. No, there's no reason for a packraft since I'm not packing anywhere...but it just sounds fun. Has anyone tried it?

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    Aside from the obvious additional clothing requirements and standard safety items (PFd, drysuit) it is nice to have the inflatable air mattress in the bottom due to the cold water temps. One nice thing is launching from the top of a snowy river bank and sledding into the water without worrying about tearing up the bottom of the boat. Have fun. Also with a packraft you can choose where you start and where you finish and just pull out pack it up and walk out to the highway if there are any problems with icing in the river or whatever.

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    I've IK'd the Kenai from the lake to Jim's Landing in February. It was a nice trip, but the IK has an inflatable floor that shields against the cold. There were several canoes along, and one guy was practicing rolls along the way. Pretty hard core. You often encounter ice below the ferry crossing, even when the upper section is clear.

    There are often a couple KCK guys (and gals) that regularly boat the Kenai in the winter. They usually wait for a warm spell and do it impromptu. If you sign up for their email list server you get notified whenever a trip is being planned. Nice (free) service. You don't even have to be a member. http://kck.org

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    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Thanks for the info, Jim. I've got an inflatable seat in my Alpacka, and I have an inflatable sleeping pad that fits nicely into the bottom of my raft, so I don't think the cold would be too bad. The more I think about it, the more I think it might be fun. What would be a particular kick would be to stop on the far bank, hike in a ways, and do some predator calling while I'm at it. I know the area is tightly regulated, though, so I'll have to look into the legality of that.

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    Member bigmtn's Avatar
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    Default watch for ice

    My wife and I Tried a early spring trip in our alpacas and ended up a little smarter, Ice chunks can pin you to a bank and simulate the hydraulics of up against a sweeper. Luckily was on the road side of the river, got her out of the river, ran to the road,stopped a car and got a ride downstream and waited for my setup to come floating by. Went home to a fire and a movie happy to not be raising 2 kids on my own. Be careful its a unforgiving time of year in the water.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    Has anyone ever taken their Alpacka (or other packraft) out in the winter? I've been kicking around the idea of floating down the Kenai some weekend soon. No, there's no reason for a packraft since I'm not packing anywhere...but it just sounds fun. Has anyone tried it?

    Make sure you bring ur inflatable doll for added warmth........

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    anyone do any boating recently during the warm snap?

    I had a sadistic dream for a while to float down the tanana (fbks to nenana) just before freeze-up, a few days after the ice chunks started to flow down, with that swish swish sound the whole way.

    never was crazy enough and time it wrong and you would probably die but if you did it just when the slush chunks started it would be quite the experience and probably not too dangerous.

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    Member 6XLeech's Avatar
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    Default Kenai?

    Quote Originally Posted by bigmtn View Post
    ... early spring trip in our alpacas and ended up a little smarter, Ice chunks can pin you to a bank and simulate the hydraulics of up against a sweeper. Luckily was on the road side of the river, got her out of the river, ran to the road,stopped a car and got a ride downstream and waited for my setup to come floating by. Went home to a fire and a movie happy to not be raising 2 kids on my own. Be careful its a unforgiving time of year in the water.
    Was that on the Kenai? Maybe scouting is always be a good idea for early season/cold season floats?

    On other rivers, I've read that early season ice can be a real problem. In the introduction to, I think it was Susan Beeman's, Boating Alaska (http://www.amazon.com/Boating-Alaska...7478283&sr=8-5), she describes an early season float on a familiar river, perhaps the upper Copper or a tributary, where they encounter a large aufeis shelf. As I recall, she implies that familiarity with the river was the reason they didn't scout ahead - as they normally would in any early season float. Harrowing read if you get a chance.

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