Latest News from Fairbanks Paddlers
The Paddlers’ annual cleanup of the Chena River through town originally scheduled for May 10 has been rescheduled for Wednesday, May 24. High water levels on the Chena make it challenging to safely collect trash along the banks.
We will meet at Graehl Landing (just upstream from the Wendell Street bridge) at 6:00 p.m., set shuttle to the Pioneer Park landing at Peger Road, and plan on launching from Graehl promptly at 6:30. Once on the water people travel more or less at their own pace, stopping to pick up trash on the riverbanks. Usually, everybody is out of the water by 9:00 or 10:00.
Cleaning up the Chena River is one of the contributions our club makes to the community of Fairbanks, and is also a commitment we have made to the Adopt-a-Stream program of the Tanana Valley Watershed Association. For this activity we are recognized by two nice signs placed by the TVWA near the river at Graehl and Pioneer Park. Our cleanup is also registered with the American Rivers National River Cleanup campaign.
Trash bags will be provided. Participants should bring mud boots, raincoat, gloves, warm clothes, extra clothes, mosquito repellent, drinking water and something to snack on as well as some sort of craft to paddle. Don’t forget your life-jacket!
We will attempt to separate out clean aluminum in separate bags for recycling. We need to take the trash directly to the dump (as opposed to sticking it in dumpsters) so that the Borough can keep track of the volunteer cleanup effort and so that we can report our haul to American Rivers. My truck will be available for stuffing full of trash at the take-out.
For more information contact Alan Batten at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 488-3205.
Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation Department together with REI, Alaska Dream Adventures, Alaska Canoe School, and TRAX Outdoor Center will be hosting the Lake and Trail Festival at Tanana Lakes on June 10th from 10 am to 6 pm.
Included in this family friendly event are free introductory kayak, canoe, and stand-up paddleboard instruction sessions. You can sign up for these at the Parks and Recreation Lake and Trail Festival Page. REI will also be offering classes in Camp Cooking, Map and Compass, and Bike Maintenance for Trail Riding . Spaces are limited for classes, so follow the links for more information and sign up early.
In addition to classes, there will be outdoor retailers, a kid’s activity area, give aways and raffles, food trucks and hiking trails. You can even join in pickup games of Epic Kayak Ultimate – ultimate frisbee in kayaks.
All ages and skill levels welcome! Children 5 – 12 years old must be accompanied by an adult. All participants must sign a waiver before participating and those under the age of 18 MUST have a waiver signed by a parent/guardian.
The Reindeer Hills Overnight will be the weekend of June 17-18, 2017. On this trip we float the Nenana River between approximately 17-mile Denali Highway and the “Windy Bridge” (the curved bridge on the Parks Highway a few miles north of Cantwell; NOT the high bridge north of Glitter Gulch), starting Saturday, spending the night on the river, and taking out Sunday afternoon.
The put-in is on the Denali Highway, about 18 miles east of Cantwell. The river parallels the road for a few miles, then cuts north behind the Reindeer Hills, returning to the road and the take-out on the Parks Highway at Windy Bridge. It is a fast-moving, glacial-fed river rated class I to II-. A set of rapids, perhaps a mile long, starts near where the river turns away from the Denali Highway and is straightforward, with some waves up to a foot high in a clear, wide, unobstructed channel. A few large rocks near the waterline lurking along the sides towards the tail end of this rapid, however, keep paddlers alert.
The primary challenge to newer moving water boaters on this trip is the numerous bends often populated with sweepers and strainers in fast-moving current, requiring competent river-reading and paddling skills. A decent back-ferry is recommended, as well as suitable cross-current forward movement skills. It is definitely a step up from the upper Chena, but not as challenging as lower sections of the Nenana. If you are comfortable on the upper Chena and are looking for a change of scenery and a little more challenge, this may be the trip for you. Its vistas are beautiful, especially on a clear day, and there is a fair chance of seeing moose, caribou, or bear. We will camp either on an island above Bruskasna Creek, or right by the creek’s mouth. The Bruskasna site has been popular in the past, but it has become overgrown over the years and the views and possibility of sun is better at the island camp.
We could easily have rain on the trip, and the nights can be chilly, even near freezing, though that’s usually more likely earlier in June. The river water, however, is extremely cold; a drysuit and fleece layering is nice, though not necessary, but rain gear, non-cotton layering and extra clothes are a must. I’ll bring a large kitchen tarp, cookware and kitchen tools, a 4-burner stove, a groover, and two tables. People should bring snacks, lunch, eating utensils, a cup and a bowl or plate. We can talk about major meals when I have a clear idea of who is coming.
Participants must be current members of Fairbanks Paddlers. I’ll have membership forms on hand for those who need to re-up for this summer. Fees are $10 for an individual and $15 for a family sharing one roof. If you desire a business membership you should contact the club treasurer before the trip.
I will notify participants of the meeting time, place and shuttle plans as the weekend gets closer and folks sign up. There will be a designated parking spot on the west side of Fairbanks where people can meet to carpool. However this falls, we’ll want to leave Fairbanks, packed, boats tied on, and vehicles gassed by 9am at the latest. We’ll likely get off the river Sunday afternoon around 3 or 4 p.m., but after running shuttle and loading, plus the 2-hour drive to Fairbanks, plan on arriving home no earlier than 7 or 8.
For further information and to sign up, please email the trip coordinator, Brad Snow, at email@example.com .
See you on the river!
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 20, 2017 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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Update – May 3 – The 2017 Annual Paddle and Potluck trip on the upper Chena River scheduled for Saturday, May 6 has been postponed due to river and ice conditions.
As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, May 2, 2017 the Upper Chena is at a high, bank full level with considerable shore ice on both inside and outside banks at a number of places visible from access points. You can drive to the gravel bar at first bridge, but there is a large impassable ice and log jam on the upstream side of first bridge. The 31.4 mile access point has only a very small eddy with swift current along upstream and downstream shorelines and ice chunks hung in shoals just off shore. It would be a challenging takeout for a large group. There was open channel at points visible from the road, but potential for large ice jams on tight bends or log debris. Ability to pull out and portage on either bank could be limited by ice. Upstream at 3rd bridge, a main channel is open, but there is a good bit of ice that will be flushing downstream as the river rises. The gauge at Second bridge at 40 mile has been steadily trending upwards with some diurnal cycles over the past week. Given the amount of snow and ice in the forest, adjacent sloughs and surrounding hills, combined with the short term forecast,levels can be expected to continue rising over the next several days.
Conditions could make recovery from or rescue following a capsize, swim, broach or pin both difficult and dangerous, even with full drysuits. Given the large group size and mixed experience levels of last year’s Paddle and Potluck group, river and ice conditions do not provide a good scenario for a safe and uneventful outing.
To reschedule the Upper Chena Paddle and Potluck, we need a member to take over as trip coordinator, as John is unavailable for other weekends in May and early June.
We will launch at the first bridge (approximately Mile 37 Chena Hot Springs Road) and take out at the mile 31.4 river access (the Nugget Creek winter trailhead). Meet at the First Bridge at 10 a.m. (Look for the big gravel bar on river right downstream from the bridge, accessed by signed dirt road on the right just before the bridge, then left at the fork out to the gravel bar). It takes about an hour to get to the first bridge from downtown Fairbanks. We’ll unload gear, run shuttle vehicles down to the take out, and launch. Plan to have lunch on the river and be at the take-out by late afternoon.
This section of river is suitable for canoes, kayaks, packrafts, inflatable kayaks, or small rafts. We will pack lunch dishes, a small propane grill, collapsible table and minimum impact picnic gear into the boats and have our potluck on a gravel bar along the river. Be creative. Kayakers and pack rafters may wish to coordinate with canoeists to help carry bulkier “luxury” items like camp chairs or coolers. The trip will occur rain or shine.
To come on this trip, you will need to be a current FP member ( Join or Renew online, or bring cash or check to the put-in. We’ll also have membership applications/renewals at the put-in), wear a PFD, carry spare clothes and rain gear, and be at least an advanced beginner paddler with experience in swift water and the ability to confidently maneuver a boat to avoid sweepers and strainers. In recent years a there have been channels obstructed by logs just upstream of the takeout in the vicinity of the Chena River Public Use Cabin. The Upper Chena is Class I. Woody debris obstructing the river channel constitutes the main challenges. Skills to recognize hazards, maneuver in swift current, and avoid sweepers or logjams are essential for a safe trip.
Please let trip coordinator John Schauer know if you plan to attend by noon on Friday, May 5. (907)457-3962 or johnjschauer (AT) gmail (DOT) com. If you leave a message, please state how many are coming with you and the number and type of craft that you plan to paddle.
Hope to see you on the river!
The 2017 Reel Paddling Film Festival World Tour comes to Fairbanks on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 7:00 p.m. The event will be held at Schaible Auditorium in the Bunnell Building at University of Alaska, Fairbanks.
Since 2006, the Reel Paddling Film Festival has been showcasing great paddling films from around the world. The tour screens in more than 120 cities. Join us for this year’s best paddling films. You’ll be inspired to explore rivers, lakes and oceans, push extremes, embrace the paddling lifestyle and appreciate the wild places.
The Fairbanks Paddlers board has selected 11 films to be screened from the shortlist of 21 films included in theReel Paddling Film Festival 2017 World Tour. You can view the Promo Reel and trailers for festival films on Youtube.
Fairbanks Paddlers is co-hosting the Reel Paddling Film Festival with Beaver Sports, UAF DRAW, Alaska Dream Adventures, Arctic River Guides, CanoeAlaska, and Alaska Canoe School. Last year’s event was sold out with standing room only on a Tuesday night.
Advance tickets are $10 or $8 with UAF student or military ID. Tickets will be available for purchase at Beaver Sports and at Wood Center, as well as on the Fairbanks Paddlers website. Tickets at the door will be $12 or $10 with UAF student or military ID.
Clearwater Lake is open and the birds are heading north. It’s time to paddle. The Fairbanks Paddlers overnight trip on the Delta-Clearwater will be Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30, 2017. The day trip will be on April 30.
For the day trip: Please contact Al Batten alanbatten[at]acsalaska.net (488-3205) if you plan to participate so that we can establish a meeting time and place.
For the overnight: Please contact Mary Pagel at (907) 457-4324 or at northernbluegrass57[at]gmail.com. Group size will be limited. Overnight participants should plan to meet at the put-in at the Clearwater campground at 1 pm on Saturday, April 29.
If you are not a current member of Fairbanks Paddlers or need to renew your membership, complete the online membership form or you can download a membership form from the website, and either send in your completed form and fee ($10 individual or $15 family) or bring these to Al or Cam at the trip. Membership forms will also be available at the put-in.
Here’s a description of the river and the trip:
Mike Peterson will present the third event in Fairbanks Paddlers’ Spring Slideshow Series on April 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Blue Loon.
Mike paddled Wisconsin’s Sugar, Rock, and Pecatonica Rivers and Turtle Creek before moving to Alaska in May 2016. In his first summer in Alaska, his perspective changed as he transitioned from the lazy, winding rivers of his midwest roots, to the wild and scenic rivers of Alaska. Mike’s summer paddling adventures took him to the Chena River, 40 Mile, Hungry Hollow, Gulkana, Rock Creek, Birch Creek, and Tangle Lakes. From winter pool sessions and playing Epic Kayak Ultimate to discovering Alaskan wilderness waterways, Mike will present images and share cultural differences and experiences paddling in Alaska as compared to Wisconsin.
Admission is free. Donations are encouraged to cover club expenses. All ages are welcome; however, the Loon requires anyone under 21 to be accompanied by their OWN PARENT. Come early to eat, drink, and visit with other paddlers.
In June 2016, a private group of nine journeyed to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. From there they flew in to the remote Ivvavik National park in the far northwest corner of Yukon Territory. For two weeks they experienced wilderness, wildlife, and whitewater as they kayaked and rafted the Firth River and hiked surrounding ridges and valleys. They floated over 80 miles from their starting point in the British Mountains to Nunaluk Spit on the Arctic Ocean shore. The boaters descended over 1500 feet of elevation and negotiated numerous Class III and IV rapids as the Firth made its way through boreal forest, canyons, and tundra to the sea. Extreme high water levels during the trip made for some memorable times.
John Schauer will share images and stories of this river adventure at the Blue Loon on Wednesday, April 5, 2017 at 7:30 pm. Admission is free. Donations are encouraged to cover club expenses. All ages are welcome; however, the Loon requires anyone under 21 to be accompanied by their OWN PARENT. Come early to eat, drink, and visit with other river enthusiasts.
Fairbanks Paddlers kicks off our Spring Slideshow series on Wednesday, March 22 at 7:30 pm at the Blue Loon.
John Morack and Tom Paragi will present their 2016 journey on the upper Killik River in Alaska’s Gates of the Arctic National Park.
In early August 2016, five friends enjoyed a week of paddling and hiking from where the upper Killik River first becomes large enough for inflatable canoes down to the confluence with Easter Creek. Their adventures included frequent viewing of caribou and grizzly bears, a chaperoned honeymoon that welcomed the bride to “the group,” and knitting lessons!
Admission is free. Donations are encouraged to help the club cover the cost of using the venue. Come early to eat, drink, and socialize with other paddlers, outdoor enthusiasts, and the usual (and unusual) Fairbanks crowd. The event is family friendly; however, we must follow the Blue Loon’s minor policy: Anyone under the age of 21 must be accompanied by THEIR OWN PARENTS.
Join Fairbanks Paddlers
Memberships run from
April 1 through March 31
Chena River Cleanup
May 24, 2017 @ 6:30 pm - 10:00 pm
Graehl Park, Front St, Fairbanks, AK 99701, USA
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Lake and Trail Festival at Tanana Lakes
June 10, 2017 @ 10:00 am - 6:00 pm
Tanana Lakes Recreation Area, South Cushman St. Exd, Fairbanks, AK, United States
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Nenana River - Reindeer Hills Overnight Trip
June 17, 2017 - June 18, 2017
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