For further information and to sign up please email the trip leader, Brad Snow, [email protected]. Deadline for joining this trip is Wednesday, June 5th.
On the Reindeer Hills Overnight 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 south of Glitter Gulch), starting Saturday, spending the night camped along the river, and taking out Sunday afternoon.
Here’s a description of the river and the trip: 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 take-out on the Parks Highway at Windy Bridge. It is a fast-moving, glacial-fed river requiring maneuvering and river reading skills. This section is 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 broad, splashy and straightforward, with waves up to a foot high in a clear, wide, unobstructed channel.
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 far less challenging than the 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 at a site on an island above Bruskasna Creek, or right by its mouth. The Bruskasna site has been popular in the past, but it has become overgrown over the years and the view and possible sun is better from the island.
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.
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. A major difference from previous years is that now we are purchasing liability insurance for our trips through the American Canoe Association (ACA). This takes a big worry off the minds of those of us who volunteer to lead 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. Each participant will need to be a member of the ACA, either an annual member or a member for a day. Annual memberships cost $25 ( https://www.americancanoe.org/general/register_member_type.asp ). Fairbanks Paddlers is an ACA Paddle America Club so we are on the list of clubs in the drop-down menu on the membership form. ACA members will need to know their ACA number when you show up for our trips. The other option is to become an ACA member for one day, which costs $5. Trip leaders will have this type of membership form at the put-in. Please understand that it is now necessary to be a member of both Fairbanks Paddlers and, at least for the day, the ACA.
Due to prior experience and comments from other trip participants, I am requesting that participants leave their 4-legged friends at home for this trip. Two-legged friends are most welcome.
I will notify participants of the meeting time, place and shuttle plans as the weekend gets closer and folks let me know that they are going. There will be a designated parking spot on the west side of Fairbanks where people can meet to carpool and leave their vehicle. We’ll want to leave Fairbanks packed, boats tied on, and gassed by 8am 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 around 7 or 8.