Whitewater Day Trip on the Beluga River
Had a great day rafting the Beluga River --- starting at Beluga Lake and rafting to Cook Inlet.
This is a relatively cost-effective, 1-2 day, 25 mile or so fly-in whitewater float on a large glacial fed river.
The first section is flatwater out of the lake into a sub-lake/lagoon - here we used a G3 Jet skiff for water-taxi to the start of real flow.
The Beluga River has what you would expect from a shorter glacial river... always runs at a decent clip. Intermediate sections have some class II+ high volume water --- BUT there is more!
Three hours down is the most significant rapid of the Beluga River canyon section. This is a solid, powerful Big-Water class IV at any water level. It is scout-able from river-right atop an awesome land-slide section pealed off from conglomerated ancient seabed geology that obviously poured into the river just days ago. The river Character changes drasticly in this drop with multiple big holes, several exploding waves with sleeper whale-back hydraulics below them, irregular large breaking wave trains, and a powerful eddyline at the bottom w/ large floating debris....... Scouted the section, made a planned route, gave a safety talk, put on helmets, and ran a clean decent on through.
I rowed a floorless self-bailer SOTAR SS ELITE equipped using Cat-raft frame and Cat trampoline floor with cargo mods configuration... one person on front one behind the row station. Told the guys to put cameras away so no footage for safety reasons.
Four hours down canyon is more whitewater mostly large standing waves, wide irregular rip currents, mixing it up with eddylines.
6 hours down ended up nearing our take-out made visible by the Beluga high tension power line and Bridge over the river. Took out closer to the coast, but not necessary after a 7 hour float time.
Started the trip at Beluga Lake at high noon and Beaver got us out at 11:30 pm... landed back at Lake Hood after midnight.
To sum things up... a great trip was had by all involved. On water time is 6+ hours. Allow some time to scout, stretch the legs, warm-up/eat/build a fire, and fish a few of the feeder streams coming in. Tho' this trip was a long day... never a dull moment. Head winds (like on any big glacial river) could slow the pace considerably. So can an incoming Cook Inlet tide change things up somewhat.
The day was mostly overcast and 45-52 degrees - intermittent rain. Important to dress properly and bring all that you need in terms of float equipment with safety gear!!! This is a wilderness trip, through canyon sections, with very dynamic geology, and glacier fed factors going on.
This is not a beginner or intermediate raft trip. A boater venturing here befits a seasoned expert or professional. Water is cold, packs volume, and reasonably powerful. The largest rapid demands attention, experienced eyes for clean route-finding on big water, and sticking the row through.
Wildlife includes Black and Brown Bear, Moose, Eagle, Beaver, and Seals. Fishing would be for Char, 5 species Salmon, and sporadic Rainbow in side streams.
Here are a few pics...
Nice!!! You look so Warm :-)
Glad it all went as planned! Thanks for keeping us updated eh!
Yeah Brian! Thanks for sharing. Are there pretty good views of the mountains? Hiking opportunities?