Talachulitna or the Happy?
My wife and I have July 8-14 to do a fly-in float (without kids!). We are trying to decide between the Talachulitna and the Happy. We want an “affordable” flight, good camping, scenery, trout/grayling fishing, whitewater, and the fewer people the better. We have a 13’ Sotar cat and a 16’ Sotar raft. I’m pretty certain we would use the cat for the Happy, but I’m not so sure about the Talachulitna.
The biggest drawbacks, according to the reading I have done so far, on the Talachulitna would be dragging the boat in low water on the creek, king fishers, and jet boats. I would hope the recent rains and a strong snowpack(?) would help with the flow of the creek. I believe the end of king fishing is in the middle of July, so people fishing for kings could be a nuisance. Should I expect to see a lot of jet boats? Also, are there any stretches of continuous, splashy rapids, or is it just the Hells Gate and Flipper section?
With the Happy my biggest concerns are the fishing and low water. Also, the fact that my wife would rather do the Talachulitna, based on very limited research, is the driving force right now. I think I would rather do the Happy, but I’m wondering if I should just do the Talachulitna and not even try to sell her on the Happy.
Finally, I would greatly appreciate any recommendations on charters to either area. I am trying to finalize this trip by Wednesday, so if you have any ideas on flow, fishing, camping, scenery, whitewater, or whatever please share.
The Happy has very limited fishing, it is mostly whitewater. Embick pretty much nailed it in his write-up, several different river types, and good whitewater. At low water getting a cat through the section around Indian Creek could be interesting, very rocky, and fairly steep, 100 fpm gradient or so, more rocks than the guardrail run.
Fairly easy in a kayak, can't say much else.
Thanks for saying something Mark.
Video of some packrafters
Here is a video of the Happy river and some notes from Roman Dial packrafting down the Happy river.
I have a couple hours of vid. and a couple hundred pics, you can find a few in the kayaking section.
Happy & tal descriptions
Hey Josh -
Here are those links on my site for both river trips...
Happy River will be a tad more expensive on the put in, but exactly same take out as Tal. Happy will involve a hike overland to the actual put-in.
Happy is not really a fishing trip... Sporadic at best in too much current... with the exception being late fall Silvers at the confluence with Skwentna River. The Tal is a good fishing trip... but timing is everything from the fishing to the fly-out July bunches you'll be on-river with.
Tal is not going to be a demanding float as far as water or water levels.
Happy is steeper, more demanding, @ lower water is more technical (not necessarily pushy, yet can have the potential for tighter spots w/ pinning ON UPPER BOULDER GARDENS BEFORE CANYON). I'd wager you would not like it at a flood stage w/ big water features, plus way more velocity/energy (think a constant canyon run - NO CAMPING) come some rainy time in August.
Many of my Happy River trips were with 18' AIRE LEOPARD... jacked up frame much like the one I made for your 13' Over-Sized tube SOTAR SP except yours is now even better. This LEO cat has a much wider stance and higher clearance (like yours). It served very well in the guide-assist role for all my customers over the years paddling AIRE LYNX 1 Kayaks.
No question my first recommendation flying into these locations is Sportsman Air Service.
Beaver to Happy 1250lbs max load looks like $1850
Beaver to Tal $1350
I'd suggest your new SOTAR Cat going lighter-weight on Happy vs. your S/B, and whatever on Tal