road accesable learning curves
I would like to start doing more whitewater. Though I have alot of river float trips to my credit my whitewater experience is limited to the gulkana, granite creek, and chikaloon all class III at best. I would like to be confident in class IV waters such as talkeetna cayon. What would be some good rivers to run for experience building. My raft is a Aire traveler cata-canoe. My saftey gear includes high floatation life vest, helmet, and dry suit.
First off...Right Off The Bat.....Foremost...
I really like your Aire Traveler Catacanoe setup.
I am considering trading out my Leopard and replacing the rig with the catacanoe.
That is how much I like your rig.
But I really do not think the cata-canoe rig is the proper boat for class IV whitewater.
Perhaps ten other poster on the forum will say I'm wrong...and that is always possible.
But them 8 little drain holes in each Traveler ain't gonna drain the water as fast as it is gonna fill up when you dip into a class IV hole and hydrolic. The catacanoe, with each Traveler full of water, is gonna become a heavy beast to control.
And when its not full of water and therefore not heavy, it will be a light craft with quite a lot of bottom to it. As in quite a large area in contact with the water that will increase the likelihood of a flip. And again perhaps ten other poster on the forum will say I'm wrong, and support your quest.
Please note that I have not questioned your skills, capabilities, or motives.
In a prior lifeftime I used to run the Lionshead Rapids class-IV section of the upper Matanuska River. I ran that class IV section of rapids many times in large catarafts and with self-bailers, heavy with passengers. While I really think you have a great rig for class I and II (and perhaps class-III) floats, I personally would not intentionally run big water like class IV Lionshead in a catacanoe.
And the next post entry will suggest...??????
(Am I being overly cautious?)
Looking at running more Chalanging Whitewater
Off to a good start-up on the river resume with surely some good lessons learned on float trips you mentioned. When you say alot I'm interpreting this as traveled miles on familiar yet less demanding rivers? Many people fail to reflect on the positive side of simply reading or building skills on 'easy' river, learning to work with the physics, and mastering finesse. Again... off to a good start and never downplay 'easier' water already w/in your skill-set.
Originally Posted by slow reflection
Like getting in your vehicle many of the physics and driving principles stay the same. Introduce speed, power, less than perfect traction, hills, turns, bumps, off camber, more traffic, more lanes, more weight, more distractions, more responsibilities, not knowing where you are going, getting sleepy, and poor visibility... and it all seems a very different picture.
You can draw likewise conclusions entering the whitewater rafting scene. Introduce gradient, more water, skill level and understanding, boats of choice, control of choice, communication/ cooperation, turns, rocks, trees, tighter spots, walls, varying river hazards, big multi-day load or 10 top of folks, other boaters, not enough info, never been there before or haven't scouted any sections, physical fitness, mental alertness, changing conditions... You get the illustration.
Greatest single things you can do in terms of prep are:
1.) Get more information
2.) Gain hands on skill and understanding
3.) Go out and keep spending as much river time and making mileage as possible.
4.) Have the right equipment, know how to use it, and be familiar with safety issues.
5.) Practice newly learned skills and discover more challenging rivers to master them.
Answers to 1-5:
A.) You will receive some here, yet this is not the best venue for that.
B.) There are local resources, instruction, as well as other interesting professional offerings for this.
C.) Essentially if all is going well up to class III your moving in the right direction... so stay sharp and keep getting out enjoying the sport.
D.) Sounds like you could use the attention here... not really the boat selection of choice for whitewater (no politics, no BS, just not a good concept or design scheme for a whitewater boat. for many reasons) On the right path concerning some safety stuff like HF PFD, dry-suit, etc... likely not enough experience/understanding of product... what to have, why, and how it is truly beneficial when used properly, responsively, efficiently, effectively, and sometimes creatively. (Please do not take this the wrong way.)
E.) More mileage the better... just yourself or among friends and other boaters. Helps big-time to stay mentally and physically practiced for the game.
Using the term "confidence"... Kind of a hollow promise - meaningless on a first timer’s flooded class IV Talkeetna Canyon in the pouring cold rain. Loads of self-confidence has certainly led to one heck of lot of attempts gone wrong, mistakes, and catastrophes on the river.
The language you are seeking (particularly when others are involved) is 'Competence.' When addressing boat or gear, this should be representative of attentions to detail and echo complete comprehension.
This probably rings to the tune of who offers professional-level instruction. Yes, we do... and there are some other long-standing, reputable local outlets. For example, we offer chalk-talk one on one to hands-on whitewater 101 (Class I-II) through a progression to Whitewater rafting 411 (rowing higher volume Glacial Class IV). Knik Kayakers w/ support by NOVA does great pre-season swift water training on Class III-IV. Denali Outdoor Center offers something on class III-IV. There are a few kayak schools in the area. Some important keys to any purposeful instructional program is providing good on-topic lay-out (prepared info w/ organized plan), having attainable goals and objectives (instructing necessary skills while debriefing to exhibit something measurable) and most notably preventing bad decisions/moves from becoming hard to break bad habits.
Also suggest boating/sharing with other more experienced whitewater boaters, entertaining some good how-to videos or illustrations, and several good books (not necessarily just all instructional).
I suggest stuffing the inside of you canoes with something to displace water. A bunch of half filled drybags would work, but you need to lash them in tight so they don't just float to the top of the canoe when it fills. Another option is large planks of Styrofoam, such as cut down dock floats from SBS. Filling the canoes with something light will keep them from filling with water. I've done that with a Aire IK, and it greatly reduces weight, and speeds up self bailing. That will eliminate the most severe issue of doing whitewater with a catacanoe, and the other issues are minor. (my opinion)
As far as where to go, I suggest a trip or two through Eagle River's Campground Rapids, and then a few laps down Lions Head at lower water levels. Say 3' on scale at Glacier View bridge. It's on NOAA's AK River Forecast Center site during the summer months. This should be all the way through June & most of July. Then do it again as the water rises in late July or August. It gets quite gnarly above 4' though, so be forewarned. Also, join another boater for all of this. Never boat alone.
Another similar river, with a similar schedule, is Nenana Canyon, but it is a little more intense all the way around. But they both are fairly open water with large waves & hydraulics. With the canoes stuffed with additional displacement, you shouldn't have an special issues with your boat.
If after you get good at that and want something more technical, I would suggest the first canyon of Sixmile at the 9-9.7' level. Over that the upper Sixmile starts to get pushy, and below that level you would be hard pressed to get through the Slot and Predator, both of which get pretty narrow. In any case this will be a tight place for a catacanoe, but no more so than a decked Aire Lion, and they've been pushed through there more than a few times.
I wouldn't do the second canyon with such a wide boat until after you've pretty much mastered the first.
Another option, is to buy a second boat. One is never enough, you know.
Yes Yes No
Yes if you plan on running big water get to a swift water rescue class spendy but your tossing your-self into that situation you need all the advance skill required to handle it. Get with Brian or call Chuck at Nova eitherway it is a step in a good direction.
Yes Jim, Brian and Dennis have all provided you with enough information to have fun!
No - IMO a catacanoe is not a Class IV fun ride and is not the best choice for what your planning that is not to say it can not be done just not the best choice i.e. why leave it up to chance. As Jim suggested you may wish to purchase, rent or get a loaner from a friend if you plan on playing in big water.
Best of Luck
Thank you for the responses. Yes, Yes, Yes I understand that the boat set up I have is not Ideal, so let me clarify. I want to gradually increase river sizes to get familiar with the limits of both my skill level and my boat capabilitiies. I understand that there are many other boats better suited for large whitewater but I am not going to buy anouther boat! If I float the talkeetna this year it will be mid september not the roaring July levels. It all depends on if I draw the hunting permits I aplied for (unlikely). The only video of Talkeetna I can find is in low water using alpackas. I know these are expert boaters in that video but as an alpacka owner myself I can tell you if an alpacka can do it my cata canoe can do it. Thanks again for all of your concerns and advice but all I am looking for is some suggestions on rivers so I am not going from easy class III (gulkana caynon rapids) to a raging class IV (six mile in high water).
This statement suggests you need to do alot more homework and are not listening to what every one of us so far has posted in response... "I know these are expert boaters in that video but as an alpacka owner myself I can tell you if an alpacka can do it my cata canoe can do it."
Originally Posted by slow reflection
Firstly, supposedly you agree these were expert boaters.
Secondly, maybe these boaters all regularly boat together.
Thirdly, perchance they took on this challenge having already rafted &/or kayaked this kind of water plus realized the possibilities of changing conditions.
Likely, these Alpaca boaters had spray skirts, so the boats would not fill w/ water maintaining predictable performance.
Determinately, these boaters could have easily packed the Alpacas around if they saw this as necessary.
Additionally could have been a long 1-dayer w/ no gear --- even had support by raft or kayak as well.
On this forum in a distantly previous post... Thread called 'Talkeetna Canyon' --- I have my photos of play-by-play, connect-the-dots optimal route-finding major rapids of the Talkeetna Canyon. Never said not to try or meaning it can't be done.... Nevertheless, these images will exhibit exactly why the Catacanoe is one of the worst possible raft configurations for this kind of river trip.
Instruction or paddling with more experienced boaters plus trying out or renting a suitable whitewater raft to experience/become familiar with the difference is key in the long run.
I did some quick calculations on the travelers little drain holes. This may surprize some.
Aire Traveler cata canoe interior
volume 63840 Cu In
276 gallons of water = 2302 lbs
drain holes = 96 sq in
drain rate 421 gpm = 7 gallons per second
Time to drain from compleatly full = 39.4 sec
Aire 156R self bailer round raft interior
Volume 109620 Cu in
474 gallons of water = 3796 gal
drain holes (laced in floor) = 130 sq in
drain rate 650 gpm = 10 gps
time to drain from compleatly full 47.4 sec
I also did some quik calculations on bottom area/drag. this may also suprise some.
Aire Traveler cata canoe
surface area in water when empty = 117 sq ft
Air 156R self bailer round raft
surface area in water when empty = 113 sq ft
Good stuff on the calculations...
The particulars tho' are not really found here.
The real issues are:
How, where, distribution, with time-frame of water entering and self-bailing from each style of boat.
These two boat styles have completely different pivot points for control, distribute loads differently, and any cata-design will have flotation tracking on different radius.
While you may find similar flotation or shallow draft, and self-bailing GPM rates by your calculations on easy water... put these factors into the more challenging whitewater mix and your math focus on demanding water has little to no benefit hence no 'surprise' factor here.
Here is the physics in simple terms... At some point you will use a ferry angle to make a turn or avoid hazards in large standing waves:
--- by turning a cat (of any type) each tube, sponsin, canoe (in your case) will indeed track on separate radius (outside right longer distance than inside left flotation pivoting to your left)
--- in your scenario right canoe fills w/ more water first and more gets in due to distance, exposure, and time meanwhile left gets a little as well, however at a different rate, with somewhat less exposure, and for fewer seconds
--- Rockin and rollin' on whitewater they are at different attitudes, bail at completely different rates, and there in fact becomes exponential difference with more waves, further exposure, more time, and more water that is trying to self bail at ever-changing/exchanging angles.
*** Very importantly using a catacanoe on demanding water can completely negate the safety call and decisive moment effectiveness of making a high-side. Something to really know if your going to be in potential flip situations on Class III, IV, and IV.
Another prime example is motoring down a sea swell in a cat anything design....
Let's say you are trying to outrun serious big swell from behind, yet do not have more than ample HP engine:
Remember what I said about tracking on different radius?
--- In this underpowered, running down-swell scenario by staying on the gas a cat begins to go increasingly sideways
--- the outside tube starts to slow and dive while the upper tube gains speed increasing buoyancy transferring more weight to the already diving and slowing outer tube ---
--- If you do not instantly back off on the throttle you are going to flip --- that can be a pucker factoring eye opener for motor heads trying to throttle out when in doubt.
I use this second motor powered example because in more demanding whitewater you gain gradient, waves, etc. often more water power as a result.
Please don't take any of my commentary in the wrong light. No way am I being political, or condescending, or to here to imply you shouldn't/can't do some very challenging float trips in your set-up.
In response, now we also know you wanted some input on specific rivers... some of us can probably start lending a hand posting some rivers. lol.
I think this is a great topic. It takes initiative to ask the questions. It takes some years of understanding for products and the hands on down-river in this biz along with the open door to freely share. Certainly, if I can help out on river trip selection, instruction, product knowledge, or whatever... hangin' in there down at the Hangar.
I found it kind of difficult to break into the Alaska whitewater scene, for there does not seem to be a lot of private whitewater rafters out there. The people I know with rafts prefer to hang out on the Kenai and other mellow streams, so it is tough to find people to paddle with that want to get after it. Most of the people I have met on whitewater rivers (6 Mile, Nenana, Matanuska, and even Eagle River) tend to be with commercial groups. I have though hooked up with a couple cool kayakers that have helped me progress.
The title to your post is road accessible rivers, and I think Jim mentioned most of them. Eagle River is a good quick trip to work on river skills-and a great place to watch/assist others that screw up. The Matanuska and Nenana are both “relatively” tame at lower stages, and the 1st Canyon of 6 Mile is doable as well if you are dialed on the previous rivers. I would read up on the rivers you want to run, possibly go with a guide first, take a class, and friend-up some kayakers. With all of that said, I am not going to comment on the specifics of your boat, for I am ignorant when it comes to the Aire Traveler Cata-Canoe; the majority of my experience has been in a 16’ cat and a 16’ raft. Good luck.
A water-out problem vs water-in problem...
SR: I've found Knik Canoers & Kayakers a rich source of info and experience. If you consider a class with them, check EARLY for their spring safety meeting (looks like April 15th), a prerequisite for the courses that follow. Excellent way to meet the KCK-ers and if you like, to learn among veterans. Your plan to work your way up within limits of your equipment and ability makes sense. KCK would be a good place to get those specific river suggestions. According to their website (www.kck.org), their next meeting is Jan 28th and the featured speaker should be well worth attending (Jim Strutz)! Dang. Wish I was going to be in town...
Originally Posted by slow reflection
I'm also interested in the catacanoe setup, so was particularly interested in what ATA broached (post#2), handling characteristics of the Travelers in heavier conditions. Reading your calculations, I wondered: what if the problem is the smaller 14" tubes of the Traveler compared to the 22" tubes of the self bailer (156R)?
Smaller tubes would matter in two ways. Shorter tube height: waves and splash more easily access the raft interior. Buoyancy: It should be possible to calculate/estimate the volume of the tubes in both rafts. If the round raft is considerably more buoyant, it would float higher and drain, while the Traveler (if less buoyant and with its shorter tubes) might be awash...water might actually be flowing in via drain holes......probably not, but in a loaded raft, who knows?
Maybe nothing beats maneuverability and technique in a tight river spot, but I bet buoyancy covers a lot of novice blunders. (I got my hand up on that one ).
Originally Posted by Heg
x2, its not a poor mans activity for one and Kayaks are a bit cheaper way to access the WW. I've used the KCK list server over the years to hook up with other whitewater rafters (or boaters in general)..
In response to the OP question, other than Lions Head, Sixmile, Eagle River Campground Rapid, Nenana, Willow Creek, Keystone Canyon of the Lowe (iirc?) thats about it... Road accessible whitewater is pretty limited in Alaska...
Lions Head at low water might be a good place to get some exposure, but it gets pretty boney and low water may make access down Caribou Creek more difficult.
IMO there is not much in the way of good intermediate difficulty class III+/IV- in Alaska to hone whitewater skills on..
I haven't seen a catacanoe on the water, but I would defer to the other posters and err on the side of caution, not really an appropriate boat for whitewater.
Thank you for the replies
Ok, after the beatings I have gotten in regaurds to my boat of choice not being the best choice for whitewater (which I already new based on preious experience). Let me ask anouther question. In the mid september time frame, that I would be floating the Talkeetna, is the canyon area still considered class IV? It seems that in todays society of sat phones, GPS, and EPRBS we have almost lost some of the adventure. I realize even prior to this first posting that my raft is not the boat I would have purchased originally had my intention been running class IV whitewater. But I would have to think that the boats who originally ran the talkeetna would brobally be considerd dangerous and sustandard by todays rafts also. My intentions are NOT TO RUN IT AT PEAK FLOWS but rather in the lower water levels of the fall. I am not interested in the argument that a cata canoe taken through the canyon in early august would be a bad if not suicidle choice. I already know this. I am just interested in doing larger funner water that which I have already done. None of which has even started to reach the design limitations of the raft I own.
Found the Talkeetna link on here
Here is the link... http://forums.outdoorsdirectory.com/...ad.php?t=33106
You'll find my connecting the dots pics and route-finding in a raft at normal water levels.
At moderately low water the Talkeetna feels more like a class III to III+. But it's hard to predict when low water will occur. The glacier will stop pumping out water by September, but heavy rains can so the same thing to the water level. It should be low, but you never know until a day or so before leaving, and then you pray it doesn't surprise you overnight.
I'll go with you..
Lets do lionshead this summer at different water levels and see what becomes of it. Big water is funner to swim than bony technical water anyway.
Sounds like fun. But Chris, you gotta tell us more about your GC trip.