floated the Tal yet this year?
Me and two buddies will be floating the Talachulitna next week from Judd Lake to the mouth. Curious if anyone has floated this year and has a report. Particularly interested in hearing how the creek is with respect to log jams. Thanks!
Getting a few of the first self-guided raft rentals and fully outfitted fly-out groups back in from the Talachulitna. So far --- clear sailing and no troubles reports. Fishing is getting better. Bear population is pretty good... particularly keep this in mind if leaving anything unattended or around hot-spots like Friday Creek.
Originally Posted by just.for.kicks
Thanks Brian. Great to hear. Since you're setting my raft rental up I would have asked you Tuesday! We're stoked and ready to go. Rafting, fishing, camping... what's not to like.
Follow-up on bears... along this river do most folks put food up a tree or is it generally okay to keep a clean camp with food stored in well secured / watched cooler?
Hank, maybe our paths will cross, we'll be putting-in on the 9th. It will just be my wife and I in a yellow Sotar raft.
Originally Posted by just.for.kicks
Any update you have on your Tal float would be appreciated. Water level, bear activity, tips for any of the rapids, log jams, and of course a fishing report. Hope it was a good trip.
Thanks in advance.
My wife and I floated the Tal a couple weeks ago in a loaded 16' Sotar. I was asked not to comment on this river by an individual (not a regular poster), but in the interest of sharing some safety info, the fact that the Tal is not a secret, and we have such a tiny population of recreational boaters, I will do my best to answer a couple of your questions (not all) and include some photos; hopefully, they help.
In regards to the creek, we were loaded up pretty good (steaks, ribs, beer, wine, ice, etc). The water level was not too high nor too low. I was told to pack light for this section, but I thought if I dispersed my load evenly we would be alright; my Sotar raft always amazes me how it slides over rocks and super shallow areas. We encountered numerous logjams (most were already cut out). We did have one arduous portage, and on a couple occasions had to drag over logs. It would have been easier with a couple guys-my wife is pretty tiny. The creek was easy, yet tight, just remember...when in doubt, scout. You have plenty of time to pull over before a logjam. The wood in this creek looked like it could change by the hour since there are numerous trees about ready to fall into the creek due to erosion. Here is a photo of a typical log jam; I believe there was a sneak route on the left.
I don’t think the bears were any more of a problem than other Alaskan rivers. These two young ones were pretty curious of our camp one morning, forcing us to make an early exit off of our beautiful beach. I would not leave your camp unattended without a bear fence.
Hells Gate (below) is the first rapid you encounter. We went through the slot in the middle (to the left of the rock). It was a pretty easy set up for this line. I thought about going right…it looked to be a little more fun but I had a better chance of screwing up on this line. On the far river left it looked like, with some work, you could line a boat through. After this it was smooth sailing. There is a canyon downstream that had some more rapids. My wife, who is strong on the oars and has better judgment than me, ran all the lower rapids without incident. We did see a guided group with a blown out cat tube at Friday Creek, they had a mishap in Hells Gate, so make sure you have a repair kit.
Hope this helps.
Great pics and trip experiences.
Nice write-up Josh...
How goes it Art? Long-time --- no see! Lots of rain all around the State... nevertheless it's not -148!
I can answer the questions as to given water-levels presently.
Both Lake Creek and the Tal are pretty well blowin' out w/ lots of dirty water... would not make a good fishing trip as of now, there would be careful contingency camping throughout, and just a whitewater trip at best. These rivers could be floated in a couple days easily at these water levels.
Just like Josh mentioned... the face of these rivers (particularly the upper Tal) will most certainly see changes with all the recent rain.
Bears have been getting into some camps. Primarily the folks that do not manage a camp. Keep it cluttered up and loose items about... expect a 4-leg visitor.
On Tal --- expect shanty town camping w/ helicopter valet parking at worst.
Best case, hopefully a nice day and not too over-crowded combat for the fishing hole.
Hells Gate (rapid) is not really an issue for someone that scouts the run, has intermediate rafting skills, and sticks the line. There are indeed many ways to run it... most picking middle or even far left sneak.
The most important heads up concerns the upper Tal where a lackadaisical or unskilled boater can be caught up in sweepers, strainers, and log-jamming through the twist and turns. At higher waters (like we have now) the current will be packing right on through entrapping woods/brush.
Josh... this is a VERY belated post - just stumbled back on to this thread while trying to get some ideas for a raft trip next summer. Your write-up brought back some awesome memories. And sounds like we just missed you at Friday Creek. We were there when the guided group came in... we had camp set up at confluence, down-stream side, and guides set up on same gravel bar further down. Some guys from Austria had the upstream bar (friendly enough group, and my group had a great time making light of the European thing of catching the afternoon sun in their underwear).
This was the first raft trip me and my buddies had done. Total rowing novices... but I can vouch for the value of having studied the DVD "Let's Get Wet - The Essentials of Whitewater Rafting". We were a bit anxious about the Hells Gate section. We ended up passing the guides building rafts at the mid-point put in above Hells Gate and I asked them as we floated by... "How far to Hells Gate, and is there anything to look for so we know we're about there?" Their response did little to settle the nerves... "you will hear it". They were right. We scouted. Discussed options... could not see a way to line it so discussion was about which route to take. Scouted again. Secured everything. Untied third oar (and we ended up needing it). Off we went. This is where your picture of the lower step-down at Hell's Gate is handy. Everything went mostly to plan... made it to the pool above the bottom chute and eddied out to left to have a look. Decided to take the left chute and discussed the possibility that we could hang up on mostly submerged rock to the left and spin into the large boulder and get wedged. Want to guess what happened? Fortunately we didn't get swamped, but had some anxious moments until we got the raft free. What an adrenalin rush! We talked to guides again at Friday Creek, they ripped a raft exactly were we got hung up at the bottom of section.
Lots of rain. Very few kings. Fair number of rainbows. Sportsmans Air and Alaska Raft Connection outfitting was flawless. For 2011 trip I'd like to keep it to Class III and lower!
ME to just for kicks,
Its cold outside so I'm playing on the computer. Agree Sportsmans Air the way to go. We did pretty good on Kings but it was all or nothing got lucky on a surge. We floated June 28-July 3. Brought everything and the kitchen sink and the upper was a challenge. I cut some of the log jams out but it took way longer to get through that section than I planned. Cut into my king fishing time. It was probably the most challenging trip I have ever done with the family because of this, very long days and late camp. Hard on the little guys. Lots of debris in the log jams some nails showing from boat docks that got washed down a few years back in the flood. Almost no time for fishing on the upper because way behind the power curve. Middle section was great. P1090098.jpg
cutting some log jams out
Had to line it through hells gate
Matt... thanks for clearing the way on the Tal! Could see where someone with a chainsaw had been busy. We only had to do one portage (same one Heg did I'm sure). Probably have you to thank for the cut firewood at Friday Creek too.
Our top candidates for next summer at this point are the Alagnak, Goodnews, Holitna, Kanektok... probably in that order. Easy floats.