upper sheep from crossover lake?
Thinking about doing this trip this summer in my 9 foot cat. Primary purpose would be for fishing in mid to late august but wanted to know what the boating was like? Ive heard it can be a bit splashy in places. I have done the chulitna and gulkana in my little boat as well as numerous other smaller creeks so am fairly comfortable.
Any first hand experiences or words of caution for this stretch of water?
At a decent flow you will encounter 8-10 miles of class III-III+(IV-). At low water rocks are exposed by the thousands, at higher water it has large waves for a creek.
I have done it four times, and I can tell you to expect a nasty hike, hauling anything which is bulky. If you can run the Guardrail; Sheep Creek will be no problem, but the Gulkana is not the same type of stream, and is not efficient to serve as a warm-up.
Whitewater gear is mandatory...
I am assuming you are talking about Sheep creek on the Parks highway. Is this correct? If so, I am not familiar with Crossover lake, but I know there used to be an old jeep trail that runs along the south side of Sheep creek. I think some crazy guy has put up a bunch of signs saying that he owns all the land and you are on video surveillance and he will shoot on site and all that. So, I haven't been back there in years, but when I floated the upper in my 1 man cataraft, my buddy and I found some good fishing for rainbows in the upper river. We went in August like you were saying. The dog salmon were in there pretty thick, and the rainbows were feeding heavily on eggs. So beads and flesh were the tackle we were using. It was some fast moving water. Narrow sections with continuos class II and III whitewater. Lots of sweepers, strainers, sleepers etc. Good float, but you should probably look into private ownership of land first. Now I heard that the guy I told you about does not really own all the land to access it, but I could never verify it either way, so I just stayed away from it to be safe.
That is not the upper
The trail DOES NOT go to the upper section, but starts below the more serious whitwater.
There is only one strainer that I rremember on the upper, it is to swift, the strainers syart lower after the hard stuff.
Originally Posted by Armo_Ak
Pretty much what mark oathout is relating...
'Upper' Sheep Creek to the Parks Highway venture starts by carrying gear on a promisingly-so demanding trek down an alder brush mountainside (rafting equipment makes this more difficult --- even <10'ers). Once you put-in, your moving without much warm-up through tighter boulder-dodging, steeper whitewater plus hole-shot chutes and will drop from a bit above 1500-1600 ft. to around 250 ft. within 20-25 miles. It's only the last reaches that considerably mellow out for easier boating and sportfishing.
Logs/log-jams can become most risky at a location where the final walls, whitewater is over yet still very swift water, and the larger trees with brush all come together.
For a little Alaska rafting history, I ran what is considered the first 'rafting' decent of the river in the 1990s. Party of two (my girlfriend and I) were testing out a set of Jack Plastic Welding Tubes from a Fat-Pack-Cat. The boat was modified by going with an older-school, much wider-stance custom row frame Goo (geaux on forum here) made for me when I was a boy. I also had three full-size diameter Carlisle Oars so stubby they resemble Babe Ruth's bat with blades. We wore wetsuits so as not to rip dry-suits on the carry through the alders and devils clubs... nowadays kinda too cold water for wetsuits and today's dry-suits are tougher.
The upper Creek is honestly too swift for any wading or good fishing. I did bring rods to get a lay of the overall character, conditions, and see what catch and release of the day was to be. I was not fishing them, nevertheless all hooked in the upper whitewater where Big Kings... 2 released and one easy >50+ was a tug-of-war around boulders and eventually got away bending out the hook (did not want to loose lures --- I only brought 5 pieces of tackle keeping everything fly-weight also for casting emergency food if ever needed). I'd not make this run with rods due to fact that it's extra weight, plus very likely you'll loose or break them. Keep 'er simple --- I'd leave the fishing to the Brown Bears --- There are a lot of 'em.
The things that may truly answer your question are:
a.) What's your full-spectrum of prerequisites... do these establish a level of steeper creekin' comfort with dependable skill-sets. Sheep Creek is very committing once you're in there. A walk out would end up on the extreme?
b.) What make/model is your raft... including how is it or will be outfitted/equipped like oars, safety gear and so on?
c.) What measures will you take on as far as what you'll wear, how you'll camp, how you'll recover from an accident as far as knowledge-base and safety equipment?
Comprehensive answers to stuff like this will be of primary importance when you take on Upper Sheep Creek.
Thanks for all your opinions guys. Got some good input on fishing the lower sections and am now thinking about doing the upper as just a float. If anyone has any interest in packrafting it or single catting it with me sometime in june pm me and let's put something together. I have done the tal canyon and nenana in 14 footers and am looking for some challenging water to test my skills and pac9000.
Thanks again, it means a lot to be able to get quality information from people with your levels of experience.
June is a great time to go. The key to a fun Sheep Creek trip is a good water flow. If the water at the Parks highway is slow and brownish, it is not going to be a good run. If the water has a glacial tint too it, and is moving fast at the bridge, you will be in for an excellent class III trip.
You are going to hate the hike in from crossover. We use Willow Air 385.00 for a Beaver, leave at 9:00 am and hit the highway around midnight, if we don't camp.
July is more dangerous because of the bears, lots of them, so your June date is good.
We will probably go the first weekend of June,but we are looking for really high water to boat in kayaks.
If you are just looking for a flyout float, check out the Chickaloon, in my opinion, it is the best class III whitewater around. But like all the rest, flow makes a big difference.
Good stuff to know. While your boat is a high quality set of tubes... they are the wrong type. They are low profile twin tubes having no clearance ability to straddle, get surfed easily, and are a lap-full wet ride. On this boat, a twin-tube stance with shortened up length is more for shallow drafting, easy entry/exit, and the profile can work to some advantages in winds.
Your pac 9000 frame is another problem. While an excellent set-up for easy in/out fishing running less demanding whitewater --- it's not forgiving where running into things on steeper, technical water may cause high-siding or ejection. Your oars, blades, and locks are also unreliable light-duty choices for upper Sheep. Even higher probability is having the oars popped from your grip --- your style of frame is only useful for kickin' back in the seat - offering little recovery moves or protection. If you have a blow out, you could loose your frame because it relies on the convenient strapless mounting.
If I had a choice --- I'd consider the pac 1100 for this kind of descent.
a.) larger diameter single tubes w/ continuous curve and having 4 chambers
b.) better frame and stance w/ containment and foot-bracing
c.) stronger oars, locks, blades, hardware, etc.
I'm not saying it can't be done in your boat... only relating you should at very least make some suitable modifications to your boat and not overlook things like oars, locks, adding D-rings, using a customized/different frame, etc. Your tubes are very well made, and if you make sure ya go around all obstacles plus understand this is not their niche - all set. It's mostly the stock hardware and accessories that are not dependable choices for upper Sheep Creek.