Latest News from Fairbanks Paddlers
Fairbanks Paddlers Slideshow/Movie Night winter/spring series returns with a double feature at an new venue: Silver Gulch Brewing and Bottling Company in Fox, Alaska. Silver Gulch has reopened on Thursday through Sunday evenings this fall and winter. They have generously agreed to open especially for Fairbanks Paddlers on Wednesday, January 25 for our presentation. Doors will open at 5:30 pm with a limited menu of appetizers, pizza, burgers plus beverages available from the bar. Presentations will start at 7 p.m. Come early and enjoy good food, beverages and meet up with old friends and new ones from the paddling community. The presentation is free and open to the public.
Silver Gulch is located at 2195 Old Steese Highway North in Fox, Alaska.
Trans-Okavango Delta Kayak – 2022
Ron Yarnell and Stu Pechek will give a presentation of their group’s 180-mile paddle across the Okavango delta during the summer of 2022 in northeast Botswana of southern Africa. It’s exciting paddling amid elephants, hippos and crocodiles, with lions roaring somewhere close outside your tent at night! Our adventures were not just encounters with wildlife. There were times we weren’t sure we would make it!
The Summer of 1,000 River Miles; a Bucket List Check-off
Barry Whitehill set an ambitious goal of paddling a thousand river miles in Alaska and the Yukon during the summer of 2022. Barry will share his photos, stories, and experiences of the multiple rivers he checked off of his bucket list in meeting this goal.
We are planning on additional presentations in February and March. On February 22, we are planning another double feature at Silver Gulch with Ned Rozelle and Ed Plumb. Ned will be sharing his experience in paddling the entire length of the Tanana River, and Ed will be presenting about packrafting trips to remote hot springs.
Our March presentation is tentatively scheduled for March 22. We hope to return to the popular “crowd-sourced” format in which we feature multiple presenters with mini-slide shows or short movies. Our goal is to try to highlight Alaskan paddling trips with relatively easy access for local paddlers. If you have a short 5-15 minute presentation that you would like to share, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us for Fairbanks Paddlers Annual Meeting on be Friday, December 2nd at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 4448 Pikes Landing Road (across from the Princess Hotel off Airport Way). The public is welcome to attend, and we encourage new members to join us.
- 6:30 Doors open. Meet and greet old friends and new. Talk paddling trips. Help set out food.
- 7:00 Potluck Dinner. If your name starts with a letter between A and Z bring food! A roast turkey will be provided.
- 7:30 Short Business Meeting. We’ll review the year’s activities and elect board members.
- 7:50 Guest Presenters: Jule Harle, Maggie Harings, and Patrick Higgins.
Presentation: Small Boats, Big Adventures: Packrafting in Alaska
This year our featured guest presentation will be by three members of the new Alaska Chapter of the American Packraft Association (APA): Jule Harle, Maggie Harings, and Patrick Higgins.
Jule is owner of Alaska Packraft School and author of the new, self-published Alaska Packraft Guidebook. Some of you may have met Jule at her book signing at HooDoo Brewing this summer. She began her love affair with rivers in the Southern Appalachians as a kayaker and raft guide before moving to Alaska in 2007. She’s been guiding wilderness backpacking, rafting, sea kayaking & packrafting trips throughout AK since 2008. Jule is passionate about helping people explore wild places, but especially teaching river paddling, safety, skill development & helping people plan trips. She lives in Girdwood as a yoga teacher and holistic mental health therapist in the winter, but switches to “guide/instructor mode” in the summer months, running the Alaska Packraft School. Jule also serves as Treasurer for the Alaska Chapter of APA.
Certifications & Experience: Swiftwater Rescue Technician certified, ACA L3 Whitewater Kayak Instructor, Wilderness First Responder.
Maggie is the chair for the Alaska Chapter of the APA. She studies Pacific salmon and runs a small outdoor photography business. Her love for paddling stems from countless family trips to the Boundary Waters from the age of one. These experiences paved the way for several years spent rafting big water in Idaho and the rest of the mountain west. In 2017, she made the move north to Alaska, bought a well-loved packraft, and now seeks to support those eager to enter the world of Alaska boating by providing welcoming experiences for all abilities and comfort levels on the water. Last spring, Maggie presented a popular session at our Trip Packing Workshop at Beaver Sports.
Certifications & Experience: L4 ACA Swiftwater Rescue, Outdoor Leadership certification, Wilderness First Aid.
Patrick works for Turnagain Kayak Adventure Center based out of Hope, Alaska in the summer and in the winter works for Alaska Pacific University and Hilltop Ski Area. Patrick’s life goals are to stay dry while living in a van down by the river! Patrick was the first to be certified by American Canoe Association (ACA) as an instructor for their newly introduced discipline of Packrafting. He was recognized as the Instructor of the Month for September 2022 by ACA. Patrick is Vice Chair for the APA Alaska Chapter.
Certifications & Experience: ACA L3 Packrafting Instructor Trainer, L4 Whitewater Kayaking Instructor Trainer, L2 Sea Kayak Instructor Trainer, L4 Swift Water Rescue Instructor, L5 Whitewater Kayaking Instructor, L4 Whitewater SUP Instructor, BCU Coach Level 1, Wilderness First Responder.
Jule Harle with Alaska Packraft School will be signing her new book, “The Alaska Packraft Guidebook: Premier Rivers & Creeks in the 49th State” at two upcoming events:
HooDoo Brewing in Fairbanks
Tuesday, July 26 from 6-8 p.m.
Meet Jule Harle at the HooDoo Brewing Co to get a signed copy of her new Alaska Packraft Guidebook.
You can foam over the FIRST EVER packraft specific river guide while drinking delicious beer & hanging out with other river enthusiasts. What better way to spend a Tuesday night!? But come early, Northern Alaska Packrafts is giving away a FREE BEER TOKEN to the first 20 book customers. Each book purchase also gets you a raffle ticket & chance to win an Alpacka Bow bag among other items.
Raffle at 7:45pm; must be present to win
Cash or check only for book purchases
New Wave Adventure Outpost in Denali
Wednesday, July 27 from 7-9 p.m.
Another gathering in Denali the following night: Guidebook Release Party at the New Wave Adventure Outpost. Here, Jule will take some time to talk about the book: how it came to be, the entire process from trip reports to self-publishing and how to use the content to best execute your next packraft trip in AK.
About Jule Harle:
Jule has been whitewater kayaking, packrafting and rafting Alaskan rivers since moving here in 2007. She guided multi-day wilderness backpacking, packrafting or rafting trips & instructed river safety courses throughout the state for 15 seasons before completing the guidebook & founding the Alaska Packraft School in 2022. Out of a passion for wilderness adventure & whitewater paddling and sharing that magic with others, the school was born. She is a certified ACA instructor in both packraft & whitewater kayak disciplines. She serves on the boards for the ACA Safety, Education & Instruction Council’s Packrafting endorsement the American Packrafting Association’s Alaska Chapter. She lives in Girdwood most of the year, but escapes in the shoulder seasons to paddle warm whitewater & explore new rivers.
Don Pendergrast is coordinating a float on upper Piledriver Slough Thursday night, July 21, 2022.
Participants should meet at 6:00 PM at the crossing of Eielson Farm Road over Piledriver Slough. This will be the take out point. We can then set the shuttle, leaving as many cars as possible at the take out (Eielson Farm Road) and shuttling people, boats, and gear to the put in upstream.
Description of the put in: As we drive east on the Richardson Hwy with Eielson AFB on the left, you’ll see a very large hanger with a red roof. As you pass that hanger look for a gravel road on the right and take that road. Shortly you’ll come to a cross road, go left and you’ll quickly be driving along a lake on your left. Halfway down the lake is a road on the right, go right, and that road will take you to the slough. Stop, unload and get ready for the evening’s float.
But remember we’ll all meet at 6:00 PM at the take out (Eielson Farm Road and Piledriver Slough). We’ll have our canoe trailer and can carry several boats and gear and two or three passengers (if they are N95 masked).
This float will take a couple of hours, I suggest bringing a picnic dinner to eat as we float. You may want to bring something to share with others, but I don’t think given the length of the float and the 30 mile drive we will have time to barbecue after the float, and I don’t intended to bring the grill.
Here are some photos to help you find the put in and take out points. Please call, text (907-371-4868) or email (Don@alaskacanoeschool.com) Don if you plan on joining the group so he has an idea of who and how many are planning on attending.
We’ll have a Wednesday night pot luck social at the Pavilion at Tanana Lakes on Wednesday evening, July 6 at 6:00.
Bring something to put on the grill or share with the group. Condiments and paper plates/cups will be provided. Bring a boat and explore the lakes! Or just show up and meet folks. The pavilion is on the north shore of Cushman Lake (the big one), a little east of the swimming beach.
Prospective new members are welcome.
Join Fairbanks Paddlers for a pot luck social with a Dutch Oven snack at the Kiwanis Pavilion at Tanana Lakes at 7pm on Wednesday, June 8th.
Bring something to put on the grill or share with the group. You can bring a boat to paddle on the lakes, or just show up to meet folks and share your river trip plans for the summer. Prospective new members are welcome.
This year Fairbanks Paddlers club is a sponsor of the Fairbanks Stream Cleanup Day. It is June 11th, and we hope you’ll join in. Take a look at the flyer below for details.
It would be good to let us know if you are planning on joining.
RSVP both: Cynthia.email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fairbanks Paddlers “normal section” is on the Chena between Graehl Landing and Pioneer Park. That’s what we’ll concentrate on, but we want to help wherever we’re needed. Bring your boat if you can, we’ll work out the shuttle at Lion’s Park, as you see the city and borough will provide all the cleanup supplies.
Here’s our chance to shine!
Download the Flyer as a PDF:
2022-Stream-Cleanup-Day-Flyer.pdf (940 downloads)
How Should I Pack for a River Trip?
River trips as a category cover a lot of territory: from solo kayaking odysseys, to canoe tripping, to group rafting, to packraft adventures. How to pack for a river trip depends in large part on what kind of craft you’re using.
Join us on May 12 at 7pm at Beaver Sports to cover some of the fundamentals for an individual paddler or rafter: an overview of some river trip essentials, especially what type of gear is appropriate for your craft, how to distribute weight, and how to secure your gear – from packrafts and whitewater kayaks where space is a premium, to canoes and IKs, and even big rafts. Presenters will offer short demonstrations on packing different watercraft. Each will share favorite camping, kitchen, paddling and safety equipment, as well as appropriate river wear for different rivers and trip styles. Participants can rotate between several different presentations which will be repeated.
Trying to decide what type of gear to bring for your trip? We’ll have a range of gear on display, including ultra light stoves to group camp stoves and various styles of water filters.
UPDATE: Because of the access problems at Clearwater Campground and especially the access problems at Clearwater Lake, the Delta-Clearwater day trip is rescheduled from May 1 to Sunday, May 8th.
Break-up is proceeding apace and we can see patches of flowing water in most interior riverways. Fairbanks Paddlers annually celebrate the arrival of spring with a 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, so if our timing is right we may have an excellent opportunity to see many species of waterfowl (including swans) up close. This year the day trip will be on
May 1 May 8 (Sunday) coordinated by Alan Batten. Interested paddlers should contact the coordinator, who will send out details early next week. Note that I’ll need to contact you via email so if you contact me via text or voice be sure to give me your email address.
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, 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. Everyone, both annual ACA members and daily members will have to sign an ACA waiver, and annual members will need their ACA numbers. I’ll send more info about ACA membership next week to people who express interest in the trip.
Parking at the put-in requires either a $5 parking fee 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.
Even though we are all tired of thinking about it we are still in the midst of a pandemic. People riding in other people’s cars will need to wear masks. I am hoping that we can dispense with masks when we are outdoors, but if anyone is uncomfortable with that then we should all wear masks whenever we are in close proximity (put-in, lunch stop, and take-out). 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. We don’t want anyone to be forced into making a last-minute decision about accepting a ride, or a rider, under conditions that they aren’t comfortable with. People might consider doing a bicycle shuttle. It is only 9 miles between the take-out and the put-in. The route is level or with a gentle grade, and all but about a mile of it is paved.
People interested in the trip should contact Alan Batten before Thursday,
April 28 May 5: email@example.com, H: 907-488-3205, C: 907-378-6384. Please do not “just show up” for this trip. I’d really like to know who is coming ahead of time.
Here’s a description of the river and the trip: 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. We’ll stop for an hour for lunch and will probably lolligag a bit beyond that, so I would estimate something like 6 hours for the trip.
What to bring: Canoes and hard-shell kayaks are the most common boats on this trip; going up the creek with a raft could 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 a raincoat. There may be a few mosquitoes out. Also bring lunch and drinks. We will stop for lunch on a gravel bar.