Latest News from Fairbanks Paddlers
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.
Time to dig out your kayaks, packrafts, and canoes for winter fun and fitness. Join paddlers at Hamme Pool on Monday nights starting in January for great exercise, camaraderie, and fun. Keep your boating skills tuned up for break up, or get ready for that spring paddling adventure Outside.
Winter 2017 paddling practice sessions and kayak polo at Hamme Pool begin Monday, January 9th.
Boating nights are scheduled for every Monday from 7-9pm beginning January 4th and running through May 15, except for the following holidays/scheduled maintenance:
- Monday, Jan 16th for Martin Luther King Jr Day.
- Monday, Feb 20th for Presidents Day
Paddling skills and rolling practice run from 7:00 to 8:15pm. Pick-up games of kayak polo run from 8:15 to 9 pm. The deep end of the pool usually remains open for skills practice during polo games at the discretion of pool staff.
Bring a helmet if you want to join the paddling polo game. Face masks or full face helmets are recommended.
Fairbanks Paddlers will hold it’s 2016 Annual Meeting and Potluck Dinner on Friday, November 4 at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fairbanks. All are welcome to attend.
Ned Rozell will be this year’s guest presenter following our potluck dinner and short business meeting. He will share stories and images of his travels on Alaska’s “Trail River”.
- 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. A new order of 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.
- 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 2016 activities – Nomination and election of new board members.
- 7:50 PM – Guest Presentation and slide show by Ned Rozell – “Trail River”
The Tanana River is the reason we’re all here, due to E.T. Barnette’s wrong turn. It’s our home river, but it’s not swift, splashy or sexy. More braided, board-like and backwater. But it’s home, has easy highway shuttles and is a surprise in good ways. Ned Rozell aspires to canoe the whole river, and this summer floated from Nenana to Tanana. At the November meeting of the Fairbanks Paddlers, he will describe his travels on the “Trail River” and why he thinks others are missing the boat.
Monica Morin will be giving a Packrafting Awareness presentation at Beaver Sports on Tuesday, August 30 from 5 – 7 p.m.
The purpose of this presentation is to help packrafters choose appropriate rivers for their skill levels. Monica will explore how packrafting has evolved, and why it is growing so rapidly in popularity, especially among Alaskan adventurers. She will focus on trip preparation and planning, including packrafting-specific safety equipment, packing tips, choosing trip partners, and selecting routes and rivers best suited to group skills and experience. Discover how factors such as river gradient, water level, weather conditions, remoteness, river features, and other available information can help evaluate risk potential for a particular trip. Monica will also share case studies, and discuss opportunities and resources for additional safety and skill development.
The 40th Annual Nenana Wildwater Races will be held the August 19-21 in the Denali Park and Healy area. This year’s event will be held in conjunction with the Blueberry festival sponsored by the Denali Chamber of Commerce. The festival promises to be bigger and better than ever with fun events of interest to paddlers and non-paddlers.
The fun kicks off on Friday, August 19 at 6 pm at Otto Lake with a Barbecue, live music, and Epic Kayak Ultimate (Ultimate frisbee played in kayaks) at 7 pm.
The 40th annual Wildwater races start at Noon on Saturday, August 20 at the Jonesville Bridge near the Denali Park entrance. It will be preceded by the Blueberry Dash 5k at 9 am, and the Great Denali Duck Race at 11 am.
Sunday, August 21 wraps up with Epic Kayak Ultimate club games and the Blueberry Bash at Otto Lake from 11 am to 3 pm.