The Trips (updated!)
Our Break-Up is a bit late this year and so is our traditional annual 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, and if our timing is right we may have an excellent opportunity to see many species of waterfowl (including swans) up close.
May 6-7, 2023
The first overnight trip (Saturday night May 6, finishing Sunday May 7) will be coordinated by Don and Tracie Pendergrast, and will be limited to eight (8) people total. Interested paddlers should contact the coordinator, who will send out details early next week. Note that Don will need to contact you via email, so if you contact him via text or voice be sure to give your email address. The planned day trip for May 7, 2023 (Sunday) coordinated by Gail Davidson has been cancelled.
May 20-21, 2023
Bruce Campbell will coordinate another overnight float May 20-21 putting in at the same Clearwater State Recreation site, but will take out at the Tanana River bridge on the Richardson, rather than at Clearwater lake. This float is focused toward and led by pack rafters, but Bruce says “any craft are fine as long as they can slow down and stay with our slow little rafts.” This is a self-supported overnight trip. Everyone is welcome. The Tanana can be windy, so be sure to have warm clothing you can add. Plan is to leave town early by 8am, leave one car as shuttle at the bridge about 10am, the rest proceed to the campground (there is a parking fee) with the goal of being on the river by 10:30 or 11 am. Overnight campsite is either just above the confluence with the Tanana, or on an island in the Tanana.
Please RSVP by contacting Bruce at firstname.lastname@example.org or 907-322-9221 if you want to join.
Memberships, Insurance 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. However, this does add another level of bureaucracy to our trips, so please be patient with that. Each participant will need to be a member of the ACA, either an annual member or a member for the event. Everyone, both annual ACA members and daily members will have to sign an ACA waiver, and annual members will need their ACA numbers. To join the ACA follow the hot link https://americancanoe.org. Individual annual memberships are $40. Please join as a Fairbanks Paddlers member. If you do not have an annual membership, an event membership is available for $10. Waivers and event memberships will be available from the trip organizers.
Parking at the put-in requires either a $5 parking fee payable on site 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.
Fairbanks Paddlers is Covid Aware. People riding in other people’s cars must be prepared to wear masks. Also we need to know whether individual drivers are comfortable having other people in their car or not. We have to get car-pooling and shuttle drivers sorted out before leaving on the trip.
Contact the Trip Organizers
Please do not “just show up” for these trips. Contact the organizers or you cannot be part of the Fairbanks Paddlers trips.
People interested in the day trip should contact Gail Davidson before Thursday, May 5: email: email@example.com, Phone: 907-479-7127 or 907-460-1983. ( This trip has been canceled. )
For the May 6-7 overnight trip (limited to eight people) contact Don Pendergrast before Thursday May 5: email firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 907-371-4868.
For the May 20-21 overnight trip contact Bruce Campbell at email@example.com or 907-322-9221
This is a flat-water trip that moves from the crystal clear Delta-Clearwater River onto a slough of the Tanana, followed by a 1.5-mile 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 there 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. But considering a lunch stop and stretch breaks plan on 6 hours on the water.
What to Bring
Canoes and hard-shell kayaks are the most common boats on this trip; going up the creek with a raft or packraft would 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 rain gear. There may be a few mosquitoes out. Also bring lunch and drinks. We will stop for lunch on a gravel bar.
Overnighters will need to bring camping gear and chocolate in addition to the equipment mentioned above.