Latest News from Fairbanks Paddlers
Fairbanks Paddlers hosts the second presentation in our Spring Slideshow series at 7 p.m. Wednesday, March 20 at the Blue Loon.
The Wind River
The Wind River is a Wild and Scenic River located on the south east side of the Brooks Range and flows into the East Fork of the Chandalar River. Tom and Sarka Paragi, Dave Sauer, and John Morack floated the Wind River for eight days during August of 2018. The upper part of the river flows through the mountains with great views which the group took advantage of by taking several hikes. It is a great wilderness trip which is floated by only a hand full of groups each year.
Come early and enjoy food, beverages, and camaraderie. Meet up with friends and start planning your own summer river adventures. The public is welcome. Admission is free, but donations are welcome to help cover the cost of the venue. Those under 21 must be accompanied by parents or guardians as required by Blue Loon policies.
Fairbanks Paddlers business member Alaska Canoe School announces its summer 2019 schedule for canoe instruction.
May 17, 18, & 19
River Canoeing Sequence. Three American Canoe Association River Courses linked Levels 1-3.
May 31, June 1, 2, & 3
River Canoeing Instructor Development Workshop and Exam. This is for experienced cancers who want to become ACA Certified Instructors River Canoe Level 2.
Introduction to River Canoeing Part 1. Evening course divided into halves for those who want a course on a week night, Wednesday.
Introduction to River Canoeing Part 2. Second half on Thursday night.
Essentials of River Canoeing. Day long course.
More courses and custom courses are available upon request.
Women’s Paddling Group events will also this summer. Contact Alaska Canoe School for more information.
Spring is a great time to get your paddling skills tuned up before hitting the rivers when they are cold, high, and swift after breakup.
There are several opportunities to practice your skills, work on your roll, and have fun with other paddlers at local swimming pools.
- Saturdays: 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at the Alaska Club, Fairbanks South – $4 pool fee
- Sundays: 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. at Patty Pool, UAF Student Rec Center – $5 pool fee
- Mondays: 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Hamme Pool, Lathrop H.S. – $6 pool fee
If you bring your own boat, please be sure to clean out all the silt, sand, leaves and rodent nests before bringing it. You can give it a final rinse with hoses provided poolside.
If you can’t bring your own boat, contact Alaska Dream Adventures in advance at (907) 460-2909. They offer boats and gear at no extra charge and also offer lessons upon request.
Fairbanks Paddlers kicks off our Spring Slideshow series on Wednesday, February 20 at 7:00 p.m. at the Blue Loon.
“Navigating the Nahanni”
A slideshow by Torre Jorgenson
and the accompanying river rats Janet Jorgenson, Don and Tracy Pendergrast, Brad Fleener, and Donna Manders
The “Dangerous River”, flowing through the Mackenzie Mountains in the Northwest Territories, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1978 in recognition of its incredible landscape and world class river system. The South Nahanni River has been called the “Grand Canyon” of Canada and contains the highest large waterfall in North America, Virginia Falls, at 90 m high. Once the ancestral home of the nomadic Dene First Nation, tribal members reestablished their connections to the river by constructing a 12-m-long moose hide boat and paddling it down river while we were there. Following the days of the Cassiargold rush, it became a land of mystery with unsolved murders and disappearances, as recorded in place names such as Broken Skull River, Vampire Peaks, Deadman Valley, Headless Range, and Funeral Range.
During summer 2018, six of us in three canoes navigated 267 river miles over a three-week period. Highlights of the trip include Virginia Falls, four canyons up to 1000-m deep with challenging class 3 whitewater, side-canyon hikes, RabbitkettleLake, Tufa mounds, Hells Gate, WhitespraySprings, Kraus Hot Springs, and wood buffalo in camp. In the slideshow we discuss the history, ethnography, and ecology of the region, as well as canoeing challenges, logistics, and culinary entertainment.
Admission is free. Donations are welcome. The public is invited. Under age 21 must be with parents.
Fairbanks Paddlers will hold it’s 2018 Annual Meeting and Potluck Dinner on Friday, November 9 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks. All are welcome to attend.
Last year’s “crowd-sourced” slide shows and videos were so well received, that we have decided to bring this format back to the featured presentation following the short business meeting and election. At the 2017 meeting, we celebrated Wild and Scenic Rivers. Nine people shared their images and stories from river adventures. We would like to keep each presentation to about 5-7 minutes. These mini-shows can highlight any human powered river trips, but we would especially like to invite presentations of wild and scenic Alaskan rivers, whether they are officially designated or not.
If you are willing to share few images, video clips, and memories, please contact John Schauer at johnjschauer (AT) gmail.com or (907) 457-3962 in advance. Pictures or videos should be loaded on a USB drive to transfer onto the presenting computer.
Celebrating Wild and Scenic Rivers
Last year, we kicked off the 50th Anniversary of the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. The actual 50th anniversary of this historic act’s passage was October 2, 2018. To continue the celebration, we will show the 42 minute video “Run Wild Run Free: 50 years of Wild and Scenic Rivers” following our mini-slide shows.
The film “Run Wild Run Free…” takes the viewer through the history to the present of Wild and Scenic as told through experts, grassroots organizers, white water enthusiasts, and members of the Nez Perce tribe in Idaho.
Today in a polarized political climate new designations and river protections have stalled even though there is no time in history more important then now to protect our freshwater ecosystems. We hope this film will inspire and educate people across the country to protect their home river under Wild and Scenic so we can continue this important legacy for future generations to come. ~Shane Anderson – Pacific Rivers
- 6:30 PM – Doors open and Gear Swap – Bring boating and outdoor gear that needs a new home, or find great deals on gear that is new to you. Club T-shirts and sweatshirts with either Canoe or Kayak logos should also be available for sale in a variety of styles, colors, and sizes. Club stickers with both logos are also available.
- 7:00 PM – Potluck Dinner – Bring a favorite dish and beverages to share. Cam Leonard will once again provide a roast turkey.. Share a meal with friends and swap tales of your summer paddling adventures
- 7:30 PM – Brief Business Meeting – Summary of 2018 activities – Nomination and election of new board members.
- 7:50 PM – Crowd-sourced mini slideshows celebrating wild rivers, followed by the video “Run Wild Run Free: 50 Years of Wild and Scenic Rivers”
The Nenana Wildwater Festival takes place Saturday, August 18 near Denali Park, Alaska. This is the 42nd consecutive year for this longest running river event in Alaska.
The mass start downriver race begins at noon on the river left side of the Jonesville Bridge just north of the Denali Park entrance. Signups will be at the Kingfisher Creek pullout just north of the bridge or along the shoulder near the put-in. The race finishes at Twin Rocks rapid in the canyon approximately 4 miles downstream. A rodeo / freestyle competition will be held at 3:00 pm at a location to de announced. ( Location is usually dependent on water levels.)
Denali Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center is co-hosting this event. For more information on the event and for information about camping near Otto Lake, contact Denali Outdoor Center at (888) 303-1925.
Here is the event on Facebook
You can also join in other great fun events during the weekend.
Alaska Dream Adventures will be hosting Epic Kayak Ultimate frisbee games at Otto Lake next at the Denali Outdoor Center dock on Friday, August 17 from 5-9 pm and on Saturday, August 18 Starting at 9 am. Boats and gear are provided.
The Great Denali Duck Race will be held at 2pm right after the Wildwater race at the Jonesville Bridge.
The Denali Blueberry fest and BBQ and the Denali Blueberry 5k Dash will also be held in the area this weekend. For more information, contact the Denali Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.
The Reindeer Hills Overnight will be the weekend of June 9-10, 2018. 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.
Brad Snow will coordinate this trip. He 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 firstname.lastname@example.org .
See you on the river!
Chena River Cleanup Rescheduled for June 13
The Paddlers’ annual cleanup of the Chena River through town has been rescheduled for Wednesday, June 13. 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.
Ray Hander, of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, has some fish traps (50-60 in all) in the water in the area where we will be working, so we want to be aware of them and not bother them. They are to monitor juvenile Chinook Salmon as they migrate out of the Chena River and head to sea. The traps are tied with parachute cord and are marked with surveyors flagging. They are labeled with a “Please do not Disturb” label referencing Ray and his project. If you accidentally pull one out of the water momentarily, just re-tie it and submerge it back in the place where it was found. The traps may occur in pairs.
Note that Phillips Field Road will be closed for construction, so we will have to use the Johansen Expressway to set shuttle.
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 email@example.com, or at 488-3205.
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 19, 2018 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 Cam Leonard at (907)750-3084
Other questions? Please contact Fairbanks Paddlers at firstname.lastname@example.org
The 2018 Annual Paddle and Potluck trip on the upper Chena River scheduled for Saturday, May 12 has been postponed.
The National Weather Service special advisory statement as of Thursday afternoon reads:
Rising River levels through this weekend…
Temperatures in the upper 60’s and mid 70’s this week are resulting in significant melting of the higher elevation snowpac in the central and eastern interior. This is causing rapid runoff of the snowpack in the hills north and east of Fairbanks. Automated snow gages in the Upper Chena river basin earlier this week indicated there was approximately 7 to 16 inches of water stored in the remaining snowpack.
Water levels on rivers draining the hills north and east of Fairbanks will have significant rises over the next few days. This includes the Chena, little chena, Chatanika, Salcha, and Goodpaster rivers. Water could approach bankfull levels in some locations this weekend along with increased debris such as logs and sticks moving downriver. Water levels are expected to gradually fall early next week.
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!
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