Latest News from Fairbanks Paddlers
Fairbanks Paddlers and the Alaska Canoe School are teaming up to provide a Paddlesports Leadership Course on Saturday, June 18, 2022
This course is for any member of the Fairbanks Paddlers who plans and organizes paddle trips, or who would like to do so. The course will provide opportunities to build skills, knowledge, and judgement to safely choose, plan and lead trips, as well as to provide support, knowledge and leadership to other paddlers.
This six-hour course will be limited to 12 participants. It will be held on a flat water venue to be determined. Alaska Canoe School will be delivering the course. Fairbanks Paddlers will pay the discounted participants’ fee, so that there is no cost for Fairbanks Paddlers members.
For more information and to sign up go to https://alaskacanoeschool.com/courses/paddlesports-leadership-course/
How Should I Pack for a River Trip?
River trips as a category cover a lot of territory: from solo kayaking odysseys, to canoe tripping, to group rafting, to packraft adventures. How to pack for a river trip depends in large part on what kind of craft you’re using.
Join us on May 12 at 7pm at Beaver Sports to cover some of the fundamentals for an individual paddler or rafter: an overview of some river trip essentials, especially what type of gear is appropriate for your craft, how to distribute weight, and how to secure your gear – from packrafts and whitewater kayaks where space is a premium, to canoes and IKs, and even big rafts. Presenters will offer short demonstrations on packing different watercraft. Each will share favorite camping, kitchen, paddling and safety equipment, as well as appropriate river wear for different rivers and trip styles. Participants can rotate between several different presentations which will be repeated.
Trying to decide what type of gear to bring for your trip? We’ll have a range of gear on display, including ultra light stoves to group camp stoves and various styles of water filters.
UPDATE: Because of the access problems at Clearwater Campground and especially the access problems at Clearwater Lake, the Delta-Clearwater day trip is rescheduled from May 1 to Sunday, May 8th.
Break-up is proceeding apace and we can see patches of flowing water in most interior riverways. Fairbanks Paddlers annually celebrate the arrival of spring with a trip on the Delta-Clearwater River near Delta Junction. This area has some of the first water to open up in the Interior each spring, so if our timing is right we may have an excellent opportunity to see many species of waterfowl (including swans) up close. This year the day trip will be on
May 1 May 8 (Sunday) coordinated by Alan Batten. Interested paddlers should contact the coordinator, who will send out details early next week. Note that I’ll need to contact you via email so if you contact me via text or voice be sure to give me your email address.
Please note that all participants must be current members of Fairbanks Paddlers. Memberships can be renewed at https://www.fairbankspaddlers.org/join/ or at the put-in. Liability insurance for our trips is arranged through the American Canoe Association (ACA). This takes a big worry off the minds of those of us who volunteer to coordinate trips, and we hope it will lead to having more volunteers step forward. However, this does add another level of bureaucracy to our trips, so we hope you will all be patient with that. Each participant will need to be a member of the ACA, either an annual member or a member for a day. Everyone, both annual ACA members and daily members will have to sign an ACA waiver, and annual members will need their ACA numbers. I’ll send more info about ACA membership next week to people who express interest in the trip.
Parking at the put-in requires either a $5 parking fee to Alaska State Parks, or a State Parks parking sticker on your car’s windshield. These cost $60 and can be ordered online at https://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/passes, or purchased at the Alaska Public Lands Information Center in the Morris Thompson Center or at the DNR Information Center in the woods off of University Avenue and Airport Way. State Parks are in serious financial trouble these days (especially the Delta Junction-area State Parks) and need our support.
Even though we are all tired of thinking about it we are still in the midst of a pandemic. People riding in other people’s cars will need to wear masks. I am hoping that we can dispense with masks when we are outdoors, but if anyone is uncomfortable with that then we should all wear masks whenever we are in close proximity (put-in, lunch stop, and take-out). Also we need to know whether individual drivers are comfortable having other people in their car or not. We have to get car-pooling and shuttle drivers sorted out before leaving on the trip. We don’t want anyone to be forced into making a last-minute decision about accepting a ride, or a rider, under conditions that they aren’t comfortable with. People might consider doing a bicycle shuttle. It is only 9 miles between the take-out and the put-in. The route is level or with a gentle grade, and all but about a mile of it is paved.
People interested in the trip should contact Alan Batten before Thursday,
April 28 May 5: firstname.lastname@example.org, H: 907-488-3205, C: 907-378-6384. Please do not “just show up” for this trip. I’d really like to know who is coming ahead of time.
Here’s a description of the river and the trip: This is a flat-water trip that moves from the crystal clear Delta-Clearwater River onto a slough of the Tanana, followed by a 1.5-mile paddle up a creek to Clearwater Lake and across the lake to the take-out. From the Clearwater State Recreation Site to Clearwater Lake is about 12 miles and takes 4-8 hours depending on the wind direction and water conditions. Occasionally, depending on water level, the initial turn up the creek requires some strategy but there will be many of us there to help if this area turns out to be a problem. In recent years the current was strong enough there that most of us had to drag our canoes for a few hundred feet. You pretty much have to get into the water (calf deep or knee deep) to do this. If you are lucky you can find gravel in the streambed to walk on, but where the gravel stops there is thick organic muck so be psychologically prepared. A map and further river information is available at the State Parks web site (http://dnr.alaska.gov/parks/aspunits/northern/pdfs/clearwaterfloatguide.pdf). The Clearwater River itself has a gentle current and no serious obstacles. The slough of the Tanana has a strong current that must be respected, but no serious obstacles other than an occasional sweeper that must be avoided. The Clearwater Lake outflow has a sluggish current that is not too hard to paddle against, except sometimes at the mouth as noted above. Paddlers should have basic boating skills, be able to avoid sweepers and be able to paddle in a straight line well enough to make progress upstream. The water is extremely cold so plan accordingly. Rain gear and extra clothes in a dry bag are a must. If one paddles straight through the trip can be done in 4 hours or a little more. We’ll stop for an hour for lunch and will probably lolligag a bit beyond that, so I would estimate something like 6 hours for the trip.
What to bring: Canoes and hard-shell kayaks are the most common boats on this trip; going up the creek with a raft could be challenging and even IK’s have to struggle. All participants must bring and wear a personal flotation device (life jacket). Migrating ducks, geese and swans commonly make the lake their first stop in the interior, so bring your binoculars. Bring a dry change of clothes in a water proof bag and a variety of layers so you are prepared for temperature changes. The Delta Junction area can be distinctly cooler or warmer than Fairbanks. River boots or waterproof knee boots could be useful if we have to drag the boats a ways. It could rain so bring a raincoat. There may be a few mosquitoes out. Also bring lunch and drinks. We will stop for lunch on a gravel bar.
Find a great deal on used boats or paddling gear, or sell the boats you haven’t paddled for a while!
Fairbanks Paddlers will be working with Beaver Sports to host a Boat Swap on May 7, 2022 under the awning outside the Beaver Sports Boat Shop on 3480 College Road.
- 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. – Bring your non-motorized boats and paddling gear to sell
- 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. – Find bargains on “new to you” boats and paddlesports gear
- 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. – Find out if your gear sold and pick up your unsold items.
15% of sales will be donated to Fairbanks Paddlers. Please price your items accordingly.
If you are a Fairbanks Paddlers member and would like to volunteer to help, please contact John Schauer at (907)460-6290
Other questions? Please contact Fairbanks Paddlers at email@example.com
UPDATE: The recorded presentation can now be viewed on YouTube.
Join us on April 7 at 7 p.m. Alaska Time via Zoom for a conversation about one of Alaska’s most remote river trips in the north slope of the Brooks Range. In the summer of 2021, seven friends, Wayne Howell, Kim Ney, Tracie and Don Pendergrast, Cam Leonard, Dave Musgrave and Richard Murphy headed out to paddle the Nigu, Etivlik, and Colville Rivers, an area abundant in cultural and natural history. The virtual slide show presentation will share some of the highlights and challenges they found in this remarkable country.
The presentation is open to the public. Membership is encouraged.
The link to Join the Zoom meeting is:
Packing up on a cool arctic morning
Fairbanks Paddlers will be offering a river trip planning workshop on Wednesday, March 30, at 7 pm in the Murie Auditorium at University Alaska Fairbanks.
This first of two workshops will feature several presenters with years of experience in planning and paddling Alaskan river trips in different styles and a variety of water craft. They will each give short presentations to assist in choosing and preparing for the right river trip for a group, their chosen craft, travel style, and experience levels. Emphasis will be on safety considerations, logistics, navigation tools, communications, risk assessment, making informed decisions, and learning about current, predicted, and historic river levels and conditions. Following the presentations, a panel will answer questions and share personal experiences.
A second workshop on Thursday, May 12, will focus on gear and packing for different styles of river travel ranging from ultralight/minimalist pack rafting and self-support kayak trips to multi-day wilderness canoe camping to raft supported trips.
Membership is encouraged, but sessions are open to the public. If you have questions or would to present information, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org .
In our recent membership survey, most respondents expressed strong interest in dry land sessions with a focus on safety and preparation for Alaskan river trips. The survey is still active and can be filled out in a few minutes at https://bit.ly/paddlers2022survey
Fairbanks Paddlers board is seeking input from members and prospective members about programs and activities.
Please take a few minutes to provide feedback by completing the questionnaire.
Feel free to share the link with friends in the Interior Alaska Paddling Community.
Our first Virtual Slide Show night of the season was a big success. Join us by Zoom on Thursday, March 24 at 7 pm for the second event of the season. Don’t miss Jack Mosby’s presentation of his trips on the Noatak and Colville Rivers in 2021.
The link to join the meeting is: https://bit.ly/paddlers-show-3-24-22
Meeting ID: 870 7285 6822
Jack Mosby is one of the most respected paddlers in Alaska. With Dave Dapkus, Jack is the author of the Alaska Paddling Guide, first published in 1986, it is the quintessential book on Alaska Rivers. Jack worked with the National Park Service’s Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance program, perhaps the most enviable job in Alaska. He has paddled rivers throughout Alaska for work and pleasure. He is the consummate pro for trip organization, logistics, river travel, camp comforts, and card playing.
The event is open to the public. Membership is encouraged. Drawings will be held for door prizes.
UPDATE: March 9, 2022 – The Zoom meeting recording of our Virtual Presentations from February 24 are now available to view on YouTube. Timestamps / Chapter markers are included to Barry’s and to Dirk’s presentations.
Join us for the first of Fairbanks Paddlers’ three virtual slide shows in our spring series on Thursday, February 24, 2022 at 7 pm Alaska Standard Time over Zoom.
Here is the link to Join:
Meeting ID: 843 8305 5429
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Barry Whitehill will present “205 Years go 205 Miles”, an account of a trip that he, his wife Patti, and a friend ( with combined 205 year of age) took from the Dalton Highway to Hughes by going down the South Fork of Bonanza Creek to Fish Creek to the South Fork of the Koyukuk to the Koyukuk. His presentation promises a great mix of images ranging from outstanding wildlife shots to Gold Rush relics to Pleistocene relics to Koyukon Village/fish camp life.
Anchorage based packrafter Dirk Sisson and his trip partner Steve Bergt will describe a close call on the Kongakut River last summer, and share some of the safety lessons he took away from an intimate aufeis encounter.
The presentation is free and open to the public. Drawings will be held for club merchandise “door” prizes.