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Paddling Skills and Safety Classes in June 2024

Paddling Skills and Safety Classes in June 2024

Register Online Now

Fairbanks Paddlers is bringing professional paddlesports instructors to the Fairbanks area to provide two paddling skills and safety classes in June. Each class will be two full days. One course will focus on beginning level skills for paddling on moving water. This class will be open to participants with packrafts, river-specific kayaks, inflatable kayaks, solo canoes, and SUP’s. The second intermediate level class is intended for those who completed the first course, or paddlers with equivalent river skills. Because of the more specific skills focus, this class is for targeted to packrafters and kayakers with closed cockpit river-specific kayaks. Each class will be limited to 10 participants with two instructors. Participants need to be age 18 or older.

Instructors:

Patrick Higgins


Patrick Higgins will be the lead instructor for both classes. Patrick offers classes through Turnagain Kayak Adventure Center based out of Hope, Alaska. Patrick was the first to be certified by American Canoe Association (ACA) as an instructor for their newly introduced discipline of Packrafting. He is also a certified instructor for Whitewater Kayaking, Whitewater SUP, Swiftwater Rescue, and Sea Kayaking. He was recognized as the Instructor of the Month for September 2022 by ACA. Patrick is the new Chair for the American Packrafting Association (APA) Alaska Chapter.

 


Maggie Harings will assist in instructing both classes. Maggie is also an ACA certified packrafting instructor and recently transitioned out of serving as Chair for the APA Alaska Chapter. Maggie lives in Fairbanks where she studies Pacific salmon and has an outdoor photography business. Before moving to Alaska in 2017, she spent several years rafting big water in Idaho and the mountain west.

Scholarships:

Fairbanks Paddlers is offering scholarships in the form of partial course fee waivers to boaters who might have difficulty meeting course costs and/or taking time off from work to participate.

Scholarship requests and reasons should be submitted by email to Rachel at theangrymarmot@protonmail.com with the subject: “Paddling Class Scholarship”. Scholarships requests should be sent before registering.

Introduction to River Paddling Skills and Safety Course
Friday, June 21 – Saturday, June 22, 2024

Register for Introductory Class

Participants in this introductory course will spend two full (and fun) days learning, practicing and refining new skills for paddling on moving water. These skills build the foundation for intermediate and advanced paddling and safety classes. This course will be tailored to meet the needs of participants in varied paddlecraft suitable for river travel: packrafts, whitewater kayaks, solo canoes, inflatable kayaks, or SUP’s.

Course content includes the following:
• Appropriate equipment and gear
• River types and classes
• How to locate information about local rivers
• How to choose an appropriate river
• Introduction to hydrology
• Safety and rescue techniques
• Strokes and maneuvers

Venue: Lake and class I-II river features – Specific locations TBD

Required Equipment: Drysuit, PFD, paddle, helmet, appropriate paddlecraft.

Need gear? Equipment may be available at an additional cost. Please let us know during registration. The instructors may be able to work with you to provide rental gear through Turnagain Kayak.

Cost: $300 for Fairbanks Paddlers Members / $400 for non-members
(50% online payment is due at registration, balance is due before start of course)

Additional costs – Participants will need to either be American Canoe Association (ACA) members ($40 per year), or join ACA with an event membership ($10 per 2 day class). Rental gear is extra. Participants may need to drive to the venue or share transportation costs with others. Depending on the selected venues, there may be day use parking fees.

Register for Introductory Class

Intermediate River Paddling Skills and Safety Class
Sunday, June 23 – Monday, June 24, 2024

Register for Intermediate Class

This two day class continues to build on skills learned previously. This course works on reading water and using the river to your advantage. Participants will work on blending strokes and building blade dexterity. This is a great continuation for paddlers who have taken the introductory river safety and skills class, or for paddlers with equivalent skills who are looking to improve river running techniques. Because the focus is more specific than the introductory course, paddle craft will be limited to packrafts and river-specific enclosed cockpit kayaks with spray skirts and floatation.

Course content includes the following:
• More advanced river reading and hydrology
• Separating the body, boat and blade
• Advanced edging

Venue: class I-II moving water

Required Equipment: Drysuit, PFD, paddle, helmet, appropriate paddlecraft.

Need gear? Equipment may be available at an additional cost. Please let us know during registration. The instructors may be able to work with you to provide rental gear through Turnagain Kayak.

Cost: $300 for Fairbanks Paddlers Members / $400 for non-members
(50% online payment is due at registration, balance is due before start of course)

Additional costs – Participants will need to either be American Canoe Association (ACA) members ($40 per year), or join ACA with an event membership ($10 per 2 day class). Rental gear is extra. Participants may need to drive to the venue or share transportation costs with others. Depending on the selected venues, there may be day use parking fees.

Online Registration for both classes is open as of May 3, 20234

Register for Intermediate Class

Boat Swap at Beaver Sports – May 11, 2024

Boat Swap at Beaver Sports – May 11, 2024

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 11, 2024 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 1 p.m. – Find bargains on “new to you” boats and paddlesports gear
  • 1 p.m. to 2 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

If you are selling items, you can download and fill out the Boat Swap Seller’s Sheet in advance with your contact information, description of items, and prices. You will be assigned a seller number when you drop off gear. Completing the form ahead of time will help make our check in process more efficient.

Boat Swap - Seller's Sheet

Other questions? Please contact Fairbanks Paddlers at info@fairbankspaddlers.org

Delta Clearwater Day Trip – May 5, 2024

Delta Clearwater Day Trip – May 5, 2024

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. I suspect that we are a couple of weeks late for that this year. The day trip will be on May 5, 2024 (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.

Contact info: Alan Batten, alanbatten@…, H: 907-488-3205, C: 907-378-6384.

(Note: Cam Leonard is coordinating an overnight trip May 4 and 5, but it sounds like that trip is already full.)

Membership and Waivers

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. All participants will need to fill out an online ACA insurance waiver. There will be a fee ($10?–I don’t know how much yet) charged by the ACA to non-ACA members to cover the insurance. If you would like to join ACA it is $40 per year.

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. We don’t need a boat launching sticker–those are for boats on trailers.

Trip Description

This is a flat-water trip that moves from the crystal clear Delta-Clearwater River onto a slough of the Tanana, then a short 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 here 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.

 

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 (Usibelli Bldg.), UAF.

ADVANCE TICKET SALES ENDED AT 3 PM APRIL 25
ABOUT 60 TICKETS WILL BE ON SALE AT THE DOOR STARTING AT 6 PM

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:

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ADVANCE TICKET SALES ENDED AT 3 PM APRIL 25
ABOUT 60 TICKETS WILL BE ON SALE AT THE DOOR STARTING AT 6 PM

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.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

American Canoe Association

Join Fairbanks Paddlers

Memberships run from
April 1 through March 31

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

Upcoming Events

June 21, 2024
  • Introductory 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