Latest News from Fairbanks Paddlers
Paddling Outings with Bicycle Shuttles
These notes on paddling trips that can be made with bicycle shuttles are offered as a way for groups to paddle together while still honoring the mandate against people from different households sharing vehicles during the shuttle back to the put-in. Besides, combining paddlesports with bicycling doubles the pleasure of being out in our sunny interior summers. Practice safe cycling, wear a helmet, obey traffic laws, and wear bright clothing. Combining biking and boating means you need to think about safety for two pleasurable activities.
Paddling in moving water is an inherently dangerous activity. Don’t paddle beyond your ability. Always wear a life jacket. Always stay alert and look ahead for hazards that you may be approaching. Don’t drink and paddle. Remember that the water is cold, especially early in the season. Remember that our Alaskan weather can change quickly and take plenty of warm clothes in a dry bag, as well as extra clothes in case you or someone in your party takes an unexpected swim. Sweepers are the most common danger on our interior rivers. Give them as much room as you can. Sometimes it may be necessary to land on the opposite shore and walk your boat around the end of the sweeper. Sometimes a tree or even multiple logs may block the entire channel and you will have to portage or drag your boat around or over them. If you can’t tell from the river whether it is possible to get around a particular tree or not, it never hurts to pull over, get out of your boat, and walk over to where you can see clearly what the situation is before committing yourself to it.
Remember to bring food and water, rain gear, mosquito repellent, sun block, an extra paddle, bear spray when out of town, and appropriate footwear for walking in the water. Always be prepared for a trip to take longer than expected.
In accordance with the World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, the State of Alaska, and local health organizations the Fairbanks Paddlers Club guidelines for safe paddling and events reflect our commitment to safe paddling, public health, and community well-being during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Paddling can be risky so the Fairbanks Paddlers Club recommends that all paddlers in rural or remote areas paddle below their or their group’s ability level because scarce healthcare resources should not be tied up with rescue or emergency services. Paddle smart, paddle safe.
Support local business where appropriate, they are suffering economically.
A key aspect of public health is that Covid-19 can be transmitted by subjects that have not developed symptoms, so the Fairbanks Paddlers has adopted a Covid-19 risk management policy based on the guidelines from the American Canoe Association, the American Packraft Association, and the State of Alaska Covid-19 Health Mandates. We encourage all paddlers to follow these or similar policies when paddling during this pandemic.
Fairbanks Paddlers’ Covid-19 Risk Management Plan
The Fairbanks Paddlers’ Covid-19 Risk Management Plan must be understood and agreed upon by all participants at Club events.
- No one exhibiting Covid-19 symptoms is allowed to participate.
- Anyone with a fever cannot participate for 72 hours following a return to normal temperature.
- Social distancing of 6 feet (good) or 10 feet (better) should be maintained both on land and on water (pay particular attention at put-ins and take-outs; loading and unloading craft; no rafting up on the water).
- Face masks are encouraged and required at put-ins and take-outs, and if ever non-household groups are in close proximity (less than six feet).
- Paddlers should avoid popular places and times in order to more effectively social distance. If you know there are likely to be other users, try to pick a different time or place to paddle.
- Hand washing facilities, equipment, and opportunities should be available for all participants (plenty of soap and water, wash for 20 seconds).
- Hand sanitizer must be available.
- Sanitizing wipes or disinfectant sprays must be available.
- Any common equipment must be regularly sanitized.
- Upon returning home all participants should wash their hands (full bathing is encouraged) and wash their clothes before wearing them again.
- If public restrooms are open only one person at a time should use them. If public restrooms are not available each individual is responsible for a “bathroom bag” (i.e. trowel, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, zip lock bags at a minimum). A “bathroom bag” is not the responsibility of the Fairbanks Paddlers Club.
Limited to ten (10) participants at this time (April 30, 2020).
- Tent sites must be 25 feet apart from non-household members.
- Common areas (i.e. campfires, cooking areas) should be used with appropriate social distancing or at different times.
- No sharing of food or drink.
- Household members can travel in a vehicle together. No carpooling or running shuttles with non-household members. Use bicycle shuttles where appropriate.
- Plan your trips to avoid unnecessary visits to other communities in order to minimize cross contamination. Pack all your food, gear, water, snacks, and fill up with gas before you leave your own community.
- When traveling, minimize stops and avoid crowded places. Only one person in the group should deal with any vendors and should wear a face mask when doing so. Wash or sanitize hands before exiting and after returning to the vehicle.
Fairbanks Paddlers’ first presentation of our Spring Slideshow Series will be Thursday, March 5, 2020 at 7:00 pm at the Dog Mushers Hall at 925 Farmers Loop Road.
Come enjoy a slide show presented by Cameron Baird as he takes you down 150 miles of the Alsek River’s ice age wilderness.
Starting in the interior near Haines Junction, Yukon and finishing at Dry Bay, AK, this 12 day trip cuts along the edged of the worlds largest nonpolar ice cap as it passes through heart of the worlds largest bio-preserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the river cuts through the mountains to the coast we’ll float through iceberg filled lakes, pass by glaciers, raft class III and IV rapids, portage Turnback Canyon, take amazing side hikes, and watch stunning sunsets.
Spring is right around the corner and you know you are itching to go boating so stop by and enjoy an informal evening on the Alsek while we wait for the snow to melt.
The Folk School will be selling hot dogs and popcorn. This is a bring your own beverage event. The public is welcome to attend.
It’s not too early to polish your paddling skills and have some fun on the water. While the rivers and lakes are frozen, you can enjoy paddling indoors at several different locations and times. Practice your strokes and self-rescue techniques, catch up with old paddling friends, and meet some new ones.
Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation makes Hamme Pool available to paddlers on Monday nights from 7-9pm for the same prices as open swim sessions: $4 for Youth and Seniors; $6 for adults. Sessions go from January 6 through May 11, except for MLK day in January and Presidents’ Day in February.
Bring your clean canoe or kayak and brush up on your skills before the river ice melts!
Boats and gear must be cleaned of leaves, dirt and other debris each time prior to getting in pool.
This is not an open swim.
Canoes & kayaks only – all other craft must be pre-approved (packrafts have been allowed in past years).
Youth must pass swim test or wear life jacket.
7:00–8:00p Paddling practice (whole pool)
8:00–9:00p Paddling practice (deep end only)
Water Polo (shallow end) Helmet required
Boaters and boats must be out of building by 9:20
Epic Kayak Ultimate sponsors kayak and canoe practice sessions at Patty Pool from 3-5pm on Sunday afternoons through April 19, 2020. Cost is $5 per person if you don’t have a membership.
The Alaska Club
Alaska Dream Adventures hosts paddling sessions at the Alaska Club on Saturdays from 5-7 pm. Cost for non-members is $15.
Contact Tony Mustered at (907) 460-2909 if you don’t have a boat you can bring and would like to borrow one.
The Annual Meeting will be Friday, November 8 this Year
4448 Pikes Landing Road (across from the Princess Hotel off Airport Way)
- 6:30 Doors open and Gear Swap set-up. Bring your unused boating or camping gear to swap or sell to other paddlers. We suggest that 10% of the purchase price go to Fairbanks Paddlers.
- 7:00 Potluck Dinner. If your name starts with a letter between A and Z bring food! A roast turkey will be provided.
- 7:30 Short Business Meeting. We’ll review the year’s activities and elect board members.
- 8:00 Program! Roman Dial will come up from Anchorage and present “Four Decades of Packrafting: A Personal View.” Roman was one of a small group of boaters to take packrafting very seriously early on and to really test what this new kind of craft could do. He’ll bring early pictures, stories, and maps. He may also read some sections from his book, “The Adventurer’s Son,” forthcoming in February.Featured image: Aiyagomahala Creek (aka South Arrigetch/Hot Springs Creek) at the end of the long Class III section and just above the Class IV. Photo by Roman Dial (http://packrafting.blogspot.com/search/label/Alatna%20River)..
Don and Tracie Pendergrast will coordinate the final Wednesday night float of the season on September 11, 2019. This paddle will take place on Piledriver slough south of the Richardson Highway near the Chena Flood Control Project, Moose Creek, and Eieleson.
Meet up at Piledriver Slough off of Eielson Farm Road (Near Bathing Beauty Pond). We will float to the next pond on Piledriver Slough Road. The float takes less than 2 hours, and there should be nice colors, clear water, and hopefully no fighter jets ripping through the air.
We will have a cook out at the end. Don and Tracie will leave a car at the take out, so we can put in immediately and retrieve cars while we’re cooking to save time.
Don estimates that the final fall float of the Wednesday night paddle series should be just over three hours including the shuttle and cook out.
Contact Don for more details at 907-371-4868 or [email protected]
This will be a chance to float the Chena River through Fairbanks on or in any kind of river-worthy, human-powered boat, wooden or otherwise (pack rafts are very welcome!). The float will go from Graehl Landing to the Pioneer Park boat launch. At Pioneer Park, we’ll have a BBQ on the lawn (maybe with pizza from the Folk School pizza oven), with boats on display and the chance to visit with river folks. The BBQ will be free, but it will be a potluck, so please bring a dish to share or a few dollars to donate. Paddlers will be providing the core BBQ chow (with vegetarian options).
All the details are here: https://folk.school/events/event/wooden-boat-rondy/ (with more details coming!)
We are in need of volunteers as well. If you would like to volunteer at the event, please contact Don Kiely at [email protected] (best) or call 907-457-1219. In particular, we need help with organizing boats and parking at Graehl, judging, and clean up, as well as other logistics on the day. Thanks!
Rumor has it that the brand new handcrafted, traditional birch bark canoe that Randy Brown’s class is building this week at The Folk School will make an appearance! Come and see how cool these boats can be.
Jeremy Worrall and Melissa Osborn will coordinate a Lower Gulkana River trip July 20 and 21, 2019. The group will float from Poplar Grove to Sailors Pit July 20 and 21, with optional overnight on Friday 19th for those who prefer to make the drive down the day before.
Poplar Grove is at ~137 mile Richardson Hwy. Eleven miles past Sourdough Campground, It is a small easy-to-miss sharp turn off to the west (right) at a small sign marked “BLM Gulkana River Trail.” If you cross the Gulkana River bridge, oops, you’ve gone 10 miles too far.
We will paddle from Poplar Grove (~137 mile Richardson Hwy) to Sailors Pit (129.5 mile Richardson Hwy). Plan is to camp in the AHTNA campground at Sailors Pit. We will not carry overnight gear in our boats. We will paddle the 10 or so miles to the Sailors Pit, camp overnight, and paddle the same stretch Sunday. Last year we were able to secure a large campsite that was able to house everyone in one place, we’ll hope for the same this year. Once we have an idea of who is coming we’ll coordinate a mild potluck for Saturday night dinner. Plan to be self sufficient for the rest of the meals. Plan to bring 5-10 bucks to chip in for the campground fees.
Meet at Poplar Grove late Saturday morning. We will set shuttle Saturday at 11am. Please plan for a 4 to 5 hour+ drive from Fairbanks.
Skill set needed for this river: Beginners will need to stop and wait for those wishing to play in the play spots. Being able to eddy out and wait, then eddy back in is a great skill you can learn on this trip. Yes, there may be fish in the river. Possibly other fishermen. You will need to carry your own lunch and water to drink.
This stretch of Gulkana is a gentle class 1 river with avoidable, but nice glacial-boulder play holes. (Jettmar’s river guide lists it as class I with some class II in the later miles and at high water there can be a 50 yard class III rapid 2-3 miles below poplar grove) It provides softer and slower current features kayakers can use to hone eddy turns, attain surfs, stern squirts, etc. It is a great place to learn or practice your river roll. The warmer water is less threatening if your roll fails. Canoeists can practice eddy turns and polish current reading skills without hauling overnight gear. Packrafters will find this a great skill building trip too.
Notes from Bruce (who unfortunately can’t make it this year) about past trips “I find we Fairbanks Paddlers, starved of precious park and play holes, work the first small play holes so hard we are worn out by the time we get to the ever better features near the end of the trip. Day 2 we will target our time on the river to the very best play holes!”
Please RSVP to Jeremy if you plan to attend- [email protected] 907-347-0142