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Arctic Traverse Presentation & Book Launch at Silver Gulch – April 9, 2024

Arctic Traverse Presentation & Book Launch at Silver Gulch – April 9, 2024

Featured photo credit: Penny Knuckles, National Park Service

Join Fairbanks author Michael Engelhard Tuesday, April 9, 2024 at Silver Gulch as he reads from, signs, and discusses his new memoir: Arctic Traverse: A Thousand-Mile Summer of Trekking the Brooks Range. The book goes on sale from Mountaineer Books on April 1. It is available for to order online now, and copies will be on sale at this different kind of book launch event. Michael will also share clips from Bruce “Buck” Nelson’s documentary: Alone Across Alaska. See Michael’s Fairbanks Daily News Miner interview (PDF link at end of post) published on March 31. Listen to his interview on the AK Outdoor Explorer program which airs on April 4 at 10am and 8PM on KSKA 91.1.

This event will be held  at  Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Company in Fox, Alaska. It is the fourth and final presentation in the Fairbanks Paddlers’ 2024 winter/spring slideshow series. Doors will open at 5:30 pm with a limited menu plus beverages available. Food service will end when the presentation starts at 7 p.m. Please support Silver Gulch for generously hosting our events at no charge to the club. Bring a friend or make a dinner date with a partner. Come early and enjoy good food, beverages and meet up with old friends and new ones from the paddling community.  The presentation is free and open to the public.

Silver Gulch is located at 2195 Old Steese Highway North in Fox, Alaska.

Photo credit: Melissa Guy

About Michael Engelhard

A veteran wilderness guide, anthropologist, and recipient of a Rasmuson Individual Artist Award, Michael Engelhard is the editor and author of several books, including Ice Bear and No Walk in the Park.  His other new book: What the River Knows: Essays from the Heart of Alaska releases June 1, 2024, and is also available for pre-order.

 

 

 

Paddling Film Festival – April 25, 2024

Paddling Film Festival – April 25, 2024

The 2024 Paddling Film Festival World Tour comes to Fairbanks on Thursday, April 25, at 7:00 p.m. The event will be held at Schaible Auditorium, Bunnell Building, UAF.

Seating is limited, and previous film festival events sold out through online ticket sales. No tickets were available at the door. Get your tickets early!

Get Your Tickets Now!

The Paddling Film Festival is an international adventure film tour presenting the some of world’s best paddling films of the year in more than 135 cities and towns across Canada, United States and around the world.

Fairbanks Paddlers and sponsors selected a full program of 12 inspiring paddling films from the 29 films shortlisted for the World Tour. These feature wild whitewater action, packrafting, sea kayaking, wilderness expeditions, rafting, environmental documentaries, fly fishing, and short films capturing the paddling lifestyle. View the 2024 film descriptions.

Fairbanks Paddlers is co-hosting the 2024 Paddling Film Festival with the following generous sponsors:

Advance tickets are $10.  Online ticket sales are available now at fairbankspaddlers.org/tickets . Printed tickets will be available at Beaver Sports in early April.
In the unlikely event that the event is not sold out in advance, they will be $15 at the door. Kids under 6 are free.

Get Your Tickets Now!

Pre-show Social Hour at the Pub

Fairbanks Paddlers has reserved the private room at the UAF Pub in Wood Center from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m. on April 25 for a no-host social hour. Meet friends and enjoy a snack or cold beverage before watching the Film Festival.

Wind and Peel Rivers Presentation at Silver Gulch – March 12, 2024

Wind and Peel Rivers Presentation at Silver Gulch – March 12, 2024

Join us on Tuesday, March 12 at Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Company in Fox, Alaska for the third presentation in the Fairbanks Paddlers’ winter/spring slideshow series. Doors will open at 5:30 pm with a limited menu plus beverages available from the bar. Food service will end when the presentation starts at 7 p.m. Please support Silver Gulch for generously hosting our events at no charge to the club. Bring a friend or make a dinner date with a partner. Come early and enjoy good food, beverages and meet up with old friends and new ones from the paddling community.  The presentation is free and open to the public.

Silver Gulch is located at 2195 Old Steese Highway North in Fox, Alaska.

Wind River and Peel River Presentation

Wind River Valley

John Schauer will share stories and images from a trip on the Wind and the Peel Rivers in the Yukon Territory. In July, 2022, three friends and a little dog, too, paddled 170 miles from McClusky Lake near the headwaters of the Wind River to “Taco Bar” on the Peel River, just below the confluence of the Snake River.  The crystal clear waters of the Wind flow north through the rugged Rackla Range, Wernecke Mountains, and Illtyd Range in the traditional territory of the Teetl’it Gwich’in and the Na-Cho Nyak Dun First Nations.The Peel River or Teetl’it Gwinjik flows east and north through several canyons on its way to join the MacKenzie.

(Note: The originally scheduled presentation was to be a trip on Utah’s Green River by Don and Tracie Pendergrast. Unexpected travel required a change of plans.)

Upcoming Presentations

On April 9, Michael Engelhard will present his traverse of the Brooks Range by packraft and foot, from the Canadian border in the east to Kotzebue Sound in the west.  You can pre-order Michael’s new book, Arctic Traverse: A Thousand-Mile Summer of Trekking the Brooks Range  from The Mountaineers. It will be available April 1.
This will be the final presentation of our Winter/Spring Series.

On April 25, Fairbanks paddlers will be hosting the Paddling Film Festival at UAF’s Schaible Auditorium with a pre-show open bar get together at the UAF Pub. Details will be coming soon.

Killik River Presentation at Silver Gulch – February 20, 2024

Killik River Presentation at Silver Gulch – February 20, 2024

Join us on Tuesday, February 20 at Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Company in Fox, Alaska for the second presentation in the Fairbanks Paddlers’ winter/spring slideshow series. Doors will open at 5:30 pm with a limited menu plus beverages available from the bar. Food service will end when the presentation starts at 7 p.m. Please support Silver Gulch for generously hosting our events at no charge to the club. Bring a friend or make a dinner date with a partner. Come early and enjoy good food, beverages and meet up with old friends and new ones from the paddling community.  The presentation is free and open to the public.

Silver Gulch is located at 2195 Old Steese Highway North in Fox, Alaska.

Killik River Presentation

Tom Paragi will narrate images of scenery and wildlife from a late summer 2023 paddle down the Killik River. The trip started near Tulilik Lake in the Brooks Range, went north through Sunday Rapids in the foothills, and ended below the confluence with the Colville River at the start of the arctic coastal plain.

Upcoming Presentations

We have two more presentations scheduled in the winter/spring series. Don and Tracie Pendergrast will be sharing their trip on Utah’s Green River on March 12.  If anyone has an additional trip to share, we would welcome a double feature on this evening.

On April 9, Michael Engelhard will present his traverse of the Brooks Range by packraft and foot, from the Canadian border in the east to Kotzebue Sound in the west.  You can pre-order Michael’s new book, Arctic Traverse: A Thousand-Mile Summer of Trekking the Brooks Range  from The Mountaineers. It will be available April 1.

Alaskan Sea Kayaking Presentation at Silver Gulch – January 9, 2024

Alaskan Sea Kayaking Presentation at Silver Gulch – January 9, 2024

Fairbanks Paddlers Slideshow/Movie Night winter/spring series returns to Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Company in Fox, Alaska.  They have generously agreed to open especially for Fairbanks Paddlers on Tuesday nights for this years’ presentations. Doors will open at 5:30 pm with a full menu plus beverages available from the bar. Food service will end when the presentation starts at 7 p.m.  Come early and enjoy good food, beverages and meet up with old friends and new ones from the paddling community. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Silver Gulch is located at 2195 Old Steese Highway North in Fox, Alaska.

A Tour of Alaskan Sea Kayaking Adventures

Alaskan Sea Kayaking Trips
Gail Davidson will share images and stories from a number of sea kayaking trips along the coast of Alaska from Southeast to Prince William Sound and beyond. After 20 years of dreaming about sea kayaking, Gail finally got her hands on a used Klepper in 1998 and has been visiting the Alaskan coast at least once a year ever since. There now three Kleppers in the shed, waiting for kayaking time to come around again.

Upcoming Presentations

We are in the process of planning planning three additional presentations in the series. Tom Paragi will present on February 20, with details to be announced. On April 9, Michael Engelhard will present “Arctic Traverse: A Thousand-Mile Summer of Trekking the Brooks Range” in conjunction with the publication of his new book from The Mountaineers.

We are looking for additional presenters for March or to share a double feature with Tom on February 20. Please let us know if you have a trip you’d like to share.

Public input needed on revisions to State Park regulations involving jet skis and drones

Public input needed on revisions to State Park regulations involving jet skis and drones

UPDATE: As a result of public input, the comment period has been extended to February 1, 2024. 

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation posted public notices of public scoping for possible updates and revisions to DNR regulations involving PWCs ( personal watercraft or jet skis ) and UAVs ( unmanned aerial vehicles or drones ) on November 15, 2023. The current deadline for public input is December 29. Please read the following letter from Fairbanks Paddlers president, Don Pendergrast, who learned of these notices as a member of the Citizens Advisory Board for Alaska State Parks, Northern Region

Fairbanks Paddlers,

I currently serve on the Citizens Advisory Board for the Alaska State Parks, Northern Region. This of course includes some of our favorite paddling sites and access points like the Chena River State Recreation Area, many State Recreation Sites (Chena River, Upper and Lower Chatanika River, Clearwater River, Birch, Harding, and Quartz Lakes, and many more). There is the potential for some regulation changes over all of our State Parks concerning Personal Water Craft, PWCs (that’s Jet Skis), and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, UAVs (that’s Drones).

The primary step to include input from the public is called scoping. In this case the scoping period started on November 15, 2023 and will close on December 29, 2023. There was essentially no public announcement for this scoping period only a notice on the DNR website, and the period included both Thanksgiving and Christmas, a time when when the average State Park user is not particularly focused on public comments.

So I’ll ask you two things:
1) Complain loudly about the lack of public notice, the comment period over the holidays, and ask for a 60 day extension. Call Ricky Gease, State Parks Director at 907-269-8700.
2) Make your comments before the deadline in case there is no extension.

Comments for PWCs (Jet Skis):
https://aws.state.ak.us/OnlinePublicNotices/Notices/View.aspx?id=213231

Comments for UAVs (Drones):
https://aws.state.ak.us/OnlinePublicNotices/Notices/View.aspx?id=213232

Some Talking Points

Each of our State Parks was created by a particular statute, its “enabling legislation”. As a result each State Park is unique and has its own set of regulations and historic and preferred recreational uses. What works well in one park may not work at all in another. Fortunately State Park regulations are tailored to each park, and this system works pretty well.

What could happen is replacing a local “from the bottom up” approach to State Park regulations, that is regulations tied to specific park units, with a “from the top down”, “one size fits all” regulations that are likely to create user conflicts.

Our State Parks are drastically underfunded, and are not at all ready to mitigate any user conflicts that may result from across the board State Parks regulations.

Because recreational use patterns are different in each park, currently the regulations are tailored to those existing uses. Making regulations that effect established recreational uses are certain to create user conflicts. We do not need to go there without serious reflection, study, consideration, and most importantly public input.

According the to US Coast Guard statistics jet skis are the most dangerous of all watercraft, accounting for 30% of all boating accidents, and 36% of all reported boating injuries.

While jet ski use may be appropriate in certain State Parks, the Upper Chena, Chatanika, and Clearwater Rivers are narrow, shallow and often have tight turns. Such waterways are fine for paddle craft, but inappropriate and unsafe for jet skis. Furthermore, in parks with critical habitat and state designated wilderness, like Kachemak Bay State Park, jet skis would likely be a detriment to that habitat and wilderness values, and their use largely unenforceable.

Drones are regulated by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the State Parks have no authority over their airspace. While State Parks could regulate launching (“throwing up” in drone pilot parlance) and flying drones from the ground on State Parks, it is the FAA that controls the airspace. There are stringent regulations for drone use, pilots, power, size, altitude, closeness to humans and animals, and so forth. Alaska State Parks has neither the expertise, manpower, or budget to sufficiently regulate the use of drones.

Please complain and comment,

Don Pendergrast

Annual Meeting – Saturday, November 11, 2023

Annual Meeting – Saturday, November 11, 2023

Fairbanks Paddlers Annual Meeting will be held Saturday, November 11th at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4448 Pikes Landing Road (across from the Princess Hotel off Airport Way). The public is welcome to attend, and we encourage new members to join us.

Schedule

  • 6:30     Doors open. Meet and greet old friends and new. Talk paddling trips. Help set out food.
  • 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.
  • 7:50    Guest Presenter: Barry Whitehill
Barry Whitehill

Barry Whitehill

Presentation: “Just like Alaska, only different – Floating Finland’s Kakkalojoki and Parankajoki; and Latvia’s Gauja”

Join Barry Whitehill for a glimpse into his 2023 floats outside of Alaska.

CANCELED: Paddle and Potluck at Chena Lakes – August 12-13, 2023

CANCELED: Paddle and Potluck at Chena Lakes – August 12-13, 2023

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN CANCELED DUE TO PREDICTED UNHEALTHY AIR CONDITIONS.

Join the Fairbanks Paddlers and the Folk School Fairbanks for a family-friendly paddle and potluck with an optional overnight campout at Chena Lakes August 12-13. We have the Island View Pavilion reserved from 4-8 pm. All levels of paddlers welcome!

Saturday afternoon will be filled with games and activities, including paddling games – both dryland and on the water – and drop-in family and kid-friendly activities. Saturday evening join us for a potluck dinner. Bring your instruments and stories for sharing around the campfire!

We plan to paddle to the island for an optional family-friendly campout. Campsites are first come, first served. You may want to arrive early and reserve a site, if you plan to stay overnight. Bring your own breakfast and your favorite watercraft.

Gulkana River Trip – August 4-8, 2023

Gulkana River Trip – August 4-8, 2023

Bruce Campbell will be coordinating a trip on the Upper Gulkana River, from Paxson Lake to Sourdough Campground, on August 4-8, 2023. If you are a Fairbanks Paddlers member and are interested in joining the trip, you should respond directly to Bruce’s personal email (brucecanoe@gmail.com) For the club’s insurance purposes, you must also be a member of the American Canoe Association. Please send Bruce your American Canoe Association membership number, or complete the ACA waiver and check the one-event box and $10 fee. You can loin ACA or renew your annual membership from the Join/Renew link at https://americancanoe.org/ You can join Fairbanks Paddlers before the trip at https://fairbankspaddlers.org/join

American Canoe Association Adult Waiver Form

This 47 mile paddle is the best whitewater learning stretch of the Gulkana River, featuring good class II stretches of rock obstacles to navigate. Again, the Gulkana is the best skill building river on the Road System if you choose to make use of the opportunities it presents. The canyon, hopefully, will have enough water to go class III. You can read the BLM brochure for the river here: (https://www.blm.gov/sites/blm.gov/files/documents/files/PublicRoom_Alaska_Gulkana-River-Brochure.pdf).

The class III designation requires special reporting to the ACA for this trip, which I am willing to undertake. Please be sure you either have the annual ACA waiver and membership, or complete the one I’ve attached. You can complete the full ACA membership and the Fairbanks Paddlers membership online.

Tentative trip plan  (subject to change based on wind, input, etc.:)

Friday August 4th: Drive to Paxson Lake campground and set shuttle to Sourdough Campground. If the wind is gentle, we paddle across the lake and camp on the far side. If the wind is as it often is, we may camp overnight at the Paxson Lake campground and paddle across early, early in the morning – like 5 am early, just to put a number on it, before the wind builds.

Saturday: Paddle through the lake outfall rock garden and depending on how tired we are, either camp on the large gravel bar at the confluence with the Middle Fork, or continue on downstream. It is about 15 miles to the Canyon campground and we will likely camp before reaching the canyon.

Sunday: we paddle to the canyon, set camp, and play. Some may choose to go on short hikes, others may choose to portage kayaks and packrafts back upstream and run the canyon over and over. (Most I’ve done in one stay is 11 runs)

Monday: Depart after lunch, camping over halfway to Sourdough.

Tuesday: Finish the paddle to Sourdough and drive home.

Bruce will track water levels on the NOAA website. Generally, a gauge height of above 6 at Sourdough implies enough water for the trip. Above 9 is high, and 11 is full flood stage – too high. I do not recall gauge heights at the lake, others may have insights.

Bruce will also track weather and especially wind. Paxson Lake is not fun when the wind is blowing. It tends to die down during the night and early morning can be the best time to cross. Or it can be glass smooth – Ha!

What kind of paddling skills are required? You need to be able to read current, steer and navigate around obstacles. The rock gardens will advance your ferring and eddy attaining skills.

There is not menu plan as of yet. Please offer suggestions describing what you might cook for a group meal. Group size TBD.

Please see the message thread started by Bruce on the Fairbanks Paddlers email group at https://groups.io/g/fairbankspaddlers/

Please respond  to Bruce Campbell via email at brucecanoe@gmail.com.   Tracking text messages is nor workable.

(Featured image – Gulkana Canyon – Sept 14, 2022 – 8′ and ~4000 cfs on Sourdough Gauge – photo by John Schauer )

Paddlesports Safety and Skills Instruction

Paddlesports Safety and Skills Instruction

The Fairbanks Paddlers club does not offer formal safety or skills courses.  Our collaborative trips are coordinated by volunteers from the club, and are not guided trips. There may be some opportunities on club outings for some informal mentoring; however, participants joining these trips should have the proper paddling and safety skills and appropriate apparel and equipment to safely conduct themselves.

There are a number of businesses around the state offering professional instruction in a variety of paddling and river safety skills. Here are several course providers of whom we are aware.
Fairbanks Paddlers wants to share these resources with the boating community, but does not specifically endorse any specific programs or businesses. If you have additional information or know of other courses or programs, or you are an instructor or business, please contact us at info@fairbankspaddlers.org .

Alaska Canoe School

Fairbanks-based Alaska Canoe School offers  a variety of skills and safety courses ranging from Introduction to Canoeing on lakes, to Canoe Instructor Certification courses. This spring, Fairbanks Paddlers is coordinating with them to offer a Paddleports Leadership Course designed to prepare participants to help coordinate group paddle outings. They are also offering a Rescue Practice Class. Neither of these classes is canoe specific.

Alaska Dream Adventures

Alaska Dream Adventures is based in North Pole. They offer introductory kayak and canoe classes from their boat rental concession at Tanana Lakes. They also offer guided trips, kayak and canoe sales, and shuttle services.

Alaska Packraft School

Jule Harle, author or the Alaska Packraft Guidebook, offers a number of courses that “focus on paddling skills and boat control needed to push deeper into the wild rivers of Alaska, as well as self and group rescue techniques, risk management, trip planning and good on-the-water decision making”.  In addition to scheduled courses, she offers custom and small group instruction and guided packraft trips.

Luc Mehl – Packrafting and Trip Planning Courses

Luc Mehl is an outdoor educator with certifications in swiftwater and ice rescue instruction, located in Anchorage, Alaska. Luc offers in-person instruction in swiftwater rescue, ice rescue, river safety, and packrafting skills. He also offers several very unique online courses in paddling and river safety skills, trip and emergency planning, and remote travel on wild ice.

Luc’s “Paddle Up a Level” online course is a perfect companion to his comprehensive, award-winning book, The Packraft Handbook. This online course isn’t intended as a substitute for on-the-water experience. Rather, it is structured to accelerate progress in developing safety and paddling skills. You can practice the skills that are presented with friends on local waterways. It is a great resource for those considering other on-the-water courses.

Traverse Alaska

Traverse Alaska is based in Denali Park. In addition to hiking and river trips, they offer packrafting and swiftwater rescue courses.

New Wave Adventures

New Wave Adventures offers rafting and packraft trips in the Denali Park area. They provide introductory packrafting instruction on Otto Lake. They also partner with the Rescue Company to offer swiftwater rescue courses.

Turnagain Kayak 

Turnagain Kayak is based in Hope, Alaska. They offer a variety of whitewater kayak, packraft, SUP, and sea kayak instruction.

Kennicott Wilderness Guides

McCarthy-based Kennicott Wilderness Guides offers a number of guided packrafting trips in the Wrangells. They also offer two packraft courses, and plan to offer a packraft specific Swiftwater Rescue Course.

American Canoe Association

Join Fairbanks Paddlers

Memberships run from
April 1 through March 31

$10 Individual
$15 Household
$150 Business
$100 Lifetime

Upcoming Events

April 25, 2024
  • Paddling Film Festival at UAF Schaible Auditorium

    April 25, 2024
    Schaible Auditorium, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA
    See more details

May 11, 2024
  • Boat Swap at Beaver Sports

    May 11, 2024 @ 11:00 am - 2:00 pm
    Beaver Sports, 3480 College Rd, Fairbanks, AK 99709, USA
    See more details

June 21, 2024
  • Beginning River Paddling Skills and Safety Course

    June 21, 2024 - June 22, 2024 @ 
    Venue To Be Announced
    See more details

June 23, 2024
  • Intermediate River Paddling Skills and Safety Course

    June 23, 2024 - June 24, 2024 @ 
    To be Announced
    See more details