Jeremy Worrall and Melissa Osborn will coordinate a Lower Gulkana River trip July 20 and 21, 2019. The group will float from Poplar Grove to Sailors Pit July 20 and 21, with optional overnight on Friday 19th for those who prefer to make the drive down the day before.
Poplar Grove is at ~137 mile Richardson Hwy. Eleven miles past Sourdough Campground, It is a small easy-to-miss sharp turn off to the west (right) at a small sign marked “BLM Gulkana River Trail.” If you cross the Gulkana River bridge, oops, you’ve gone 10 miles too far.
We will paddle from Poplar Grove (~137 mile Richardson Hwy) to Sailors Pit (129.5 mile Richardson Hwy). Plan is to camp in the AHTNA campground at Sailors Pit. We will not carry overnight gear in our boats. We will paddle the 10 or so miles to the Sailors Pit, camp overnight, and paddle the same stretch Sunday. Last year we were able to secure a large campsite that was able to house everyone in one place, we’ll hope for the same this year. Once we have an idea of who is coming we’ll coordinate a mild potluck for Saturday night dinner. Plan to be self sufficient for the rest of the meals. Plan to bring 5-10 bucks to chip in for the campground fees.
Meet at Poplar Grove late Saturday morning. We will set shuttle Saturday at 11am. Please plan for a 4 to 5 hour+ drive from Fairbanks.
Skill set needed for this river: Beginners will need to stop and wait for those wishing to play in the play spots. Being able to eddy out and wait, then eddy back in is a great skill you can learn on this trip. Yes, there may be fish in the river. Possibly other fishermen. You will need to carry your own lunch and water to drink.
This stretch of Gulkana is a gentle class 1 river with avoidable, but nice glacial-boulder play holes. (Jettmar’s river guide lists it as class I with some class II in the later miles and at high water there can be a 50 yard class III rapid 2-3 miles below poplar grove) It provides softer and slower current features kayakers can use to hone eddy turns, attain surfs, stern squirts, etc. It is a great place to learn or practice your river roll. The warmer water is less threatening if your roll fails. Canoeists can practice eddy turns and polish current reading skills without hauling overnight gear. Packrafters will find this a great skill building trip too.
Notes from Bruce (who unfortunately can’t make it this year) about past trips “I find we Fairbanks Paddlers, starved of precious park and play holes, work the first small play holes so hard we are worn out by the time we get to the ever better features near the end of the trip. Day 2 we will target our time on the river to the very best play holes!”
Please RSVP to Jeremy if you plan to attend- [email protected] 907-347-0142