Latest News from Fairbanks Paddlers
It’s not too early to polish your paddling skills and have some fun on the water. While the rivers and lakes are frozen, you can enjoy paddling indoors at several different locations and times. Practice your strokes and self-rescue techniques, catch up with old paddling friends, and meet some new ones.
Fairbanks North Star Borough Parks and Recreation makes Hamme Pool available to paddlers on Monday nights from 7-9pm for the same prices as open swim sessions: $4 for Youth and Seniors; $6 for adults. Sessions go from January 6 through May 11, except for MLK day in January and Presidents’ Day in February.
Bring your clean canoe or kayak and brush up on your skills before the river ice melts!
Boats and gear must be cleaned of leaves, dirt and other debris each time prior to getting in pool.
This is not an open swim.
Canoes & kayaks only – all other craft must be pre-approved (packrafts have been allowed in past years).
Youth must pass swim test or wear life jacket.
7:00–8:00p Paddling practice (whole pool)
8:00–9:00p Paddling practice (deep end only)
Water Polo (shallow end) Helmet required
Boaters and boats must be out of building by 9:20
Epic Kayak Ultimate sponsors kayak and canoe practice sessions at Patty Pool from 3-5pm on Sunday afternoons through April 19, 2020. Cost is $5 per person if you don’t have a membership.
The Alaska Club
Alaska Dream Adventures hosts paddling sessions at the Alaska Club on Saturdays from 5-7 pm. Cost for non-members is $15.
Contact Tony Mustered at (907) 460-2909 if you don’t have a boat you can bring and would like to borrow one.
The Annual Meeting will be Friday, November 8 this Year
4448 Pikes Landing Road (across from the Princess Hotel off Airport Way)
- 6:30 Doors open and Gear Swap set-up. Bring your unused boating or camping gear to swap or sell to other paddlers. We suggest that 10% of the purchase price go to Fairbanks Paddlers.
- 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.
- 8:00 Program! Roman Dial will come up from Anchorage and present “Four Decades of Packrafting: A Personal View.” Roman was one of a small group of boaters to take packrafting very seriously early on and to really test what this new kind of craft could do. He’ll bring early pictures, stories, and maps. He may also read some sections from his book, “The Adventurer’s Son,” forthcoming in February.Featured image: Aiyagomahala Creek (aka South Arrigetch/Hot Springs Creek) at the end of the long Class III section and just above the Class IV. Photo by Roman Dial (http://packrafting.blogspot.com/search/label/Alatna%20River)..
Don and Tracie Pendergrast will coordinate the final Wednesday night float of the season on September 11, 2019. This paddle will take place on Piledriver slough south of the Richardson Highway near the Chena Flood Control Project, Moose Creek, and Eieleson.
Meet up at Piledriver Slough off of Eielson Farm Road (Near Bathing Beauty Pond). We will float to the next pond on Piledriver Slough Road. The float takes less than 2 hours, and there should be nice colors, clear water, and hopefully no fighter jets ripping through the air.
We will have a cook out at the end. Don and Tracie will leave a car at the take out, so we can put in immediately and retrieve cars while we’re cooking to save time.
Don estimates that the final fall float of the Wednesday night paddle series should be just over three hours including the shuttle and cook out.
Contact Don for more details at 907-371-4868 or email@example.com
This will be a chance to float the Chena River through Fairbanks on or in any kind of river-worthy, human-powered boat, wooden or otherwise (pack rafts are very welcome!). The float will go from Graehl Landing to the Pioneer Park boat launch. At Pioneer Park, we’ll have a BBQ on the lawn (maybe with pizza from the Folk School pizza oven), with boats on display and the chance to visit with river folks. The BBQ will be free, but it will be a potluck, so please bring a dish to share or a few dollars to donate. Paddlers will be providing the core BBQ chow (with vegetarian options).
All the details are here: https://folk.school/events/event/wooden-boat-rondy/ (with more details coming!)
We are in need of volunteers as well. If you would like to volunteer at the event, please contact Don Kiely at firstname.lastname@example.org (best) or call 907-457-1219. In particular, we need help with organizing boats and parking at Graehl, judging, and clean up, as well as other logistics on the day. Thanks!
Rumor has it that the brand new handcrafted, traditional birch bark canoe that Randy Brown’s class is building this week at The Folk School will make an appearance! Come and see how cool these boats can be.
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@example.com 907-347-0142
For further information and to sign up please email the trip leader, Brad Snow, firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
Kick off summer with a paddle on the Chena from Graehl to University Bridge. Catch up with old friend and meet new ones at our Paddle and Potluck meetup on Saturday, June 1.
The past two years our traditional upper Chena Spring Paddle and Potluck has been canceled, as high water, ice, or log jam conditions were deemed unsuitable for less experienced paddlers. This year we decided to have our Paddle and Potluck on the Chena through town and then have a potluck function at the Chena River Recreation Site Pavilion.
We will meet up at Graehl Landing at 1:00 pm to set up shuttles to the Chena Recreation site. We will try to get on the water between 1:30 and 2:00 pm and will have a leisurely paddle to the University Bridge takeout. Once we shuttle, we will have our Potluck picnic at the Pavilion. Bring a dish to share. We will have at least one small propane grill in addition to We have the Pavilion reserved starting at 3:00 pm and need to have it cleaned up and be out of there before 9:00 pm.
Folks who can’t join us at 1:00 pm or who want to float other sections of the river are welcome to join us at the potluck. New members are welcome. You can join at the event.
Questions? Contact John Schauer after Tuesday, May 28. ( I’ll probably be paddling until then.) 907-460-6290
The Paddlers’ annual cleanup of the Chena River through town is scheduled for Wednesday, May 29 this year. We will meet at Graehl Landing (just upstream from the Wendell Street bridge) at 5:30 p.m., set shuttle to the Pioneer Park landing at Peger Road, and plan on launching from Graehl promptly at 6:00. Once on the water people travel more or less at their own pace, stopping to pick up trash on the riverbanks. Usually, everybody is out of the water by 9:00 or 10:00.
Cleaning up the Chena River is one of the contributions our club makes to the community of Fairbanks, and is also a commitment we have made to the Adopt-a-Stream program of the Tanana Valley Watershed Association. For this activity we are recognized by two nice signs placed by the TVWA near the river at Graehl and Pioneer Park. Our cleanup is also registered with the American Rivers National River Cleanup campaign.
Trash bags will be provided. Participants should bring mud boots, raincoat, gloves, warm clothes, extra clothes, mosquito repellent, drinking water and something to snack on as well as some sort of craft to paddle. Don’t forget your life-jacket!
We will attempt to separate out clean aluminum in separate bags for recycling. We need to take the trash directly to the dump (as opposed to sticking it in dumpsters) so that the Borough can keep track of the volunteer cleanup effort and so that we can report our haul to American Rivers. My truck will be available for stuffing full of trash at the take-out.
For more information contact Alan Batten at email@example.com, or at 488-3205.
Our first trip down the Delta-Clearwater on April 20 may have been pushing the season a little bit and several people who expressed interest in the trip had to drop out for various reasons. Therefore, we are scheduling another day trip on Sunday May 19. Most of the waterfowl may have moved on to other places in the interior, but we may still see some. The weather should be a little warmer than it was last month.
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 beaurocracy 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. The ACA is an excellent organization that is very effective in promoting boating safety, education, waterway conservation, and river access. It deserves our support.
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 $50 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.