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Old 07-02-2010   #1
nightingale's Avatar
kittredge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 62
Alsek or Tat info

In the beginning stages of trying to make this trip happen for next summer. Put in for the waiting list/permit, but wanted to start thinking about some stuff because I know this trip is quite an undertaking. Have friends who have done it and said it's gorgeous. I've boated the day run on the Tat, and done several backpacks in Alaska/Yukon so know what the weather is like.

Looking to see if anyone on this board has done either one of these rivers and any info they could give (flows, rapids, etc). I plan on trying to do this trip in Aug since there will be less bugs, the tundra starts to turn, and we may see Northern Lights (have seen them on previous trips and to see them while on a river trip would be the bomb!).

Looking to see how some of the rapids compare to ones in the Lower 48.

So if you have any info, or know someone who does, let me know!


I choose the road less traveled. Now where the hell am I?
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Old 07-02-2010   #2
openboat's Avatar
Longmont, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1986
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 227
It has been about 9 years since I was there. We did a 10-day commercial trip with Sobek. We started at Dawson Post in the Yukon, joined the Alsek and finished at the sea. Upper stretch of Tat has a few rapids - but don't recall them much above a II. I do remember how powerful the river was once we hit the Alsek - and as big across as the Mississippi. Grizzlies are everywhere. We only had one in camp, but he chewed up the groover seat the first night, and kept us quite aware for the rest of the trip. It goes without saying to keep yout camps and tents VERY clean. Bears are hunted there, so they are not like a Yellowstone bear in terms of "familiarity" with humans. They seem to have a healthy fear of humans, but attacks have happened.

The lower we got, the cooler we got, as the glaciers were increasing. Last two days we were in several layers of rain gear and high rubber boots. If you go all the way, you'll need a bush pilot to shuttle you up to the nearby airport. Incredible scenery and wildlife. We quit taking photos of bald eagles eating salmon on the gravel bars after the first day.

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Old 07-02-2010   #3
cadster's Avatar
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 614
Go here:
Anyone here run the Tatshenshini?
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Old 07-02-2010   #4
Nosebleed, Colorado
Paddling Since: 1977
Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 139
Three of us took my 14-footer down the Tat in August 2004. We took 16 days--beautiful. Shorts, t-shirts, and tevas for most of the trip, but it rained 11 inches the last three days. Have enough provisions to spend time waiting for you flight out at dry bay

The first 15 miles was class 2 & 3--hard work with a heavy load. Water is cold, so you want to be suited up the first day. We hit the Alsek running over 100K. We couldn't see the entrance to the lake--it was raining too hard--but luckily it was free of ice bergs. Camped on an island in the lake--watch out for tunamis!!! This is a very remote trip--we did not see another trip or person until we got to Dry Bay.

Get: The Complete Guide to the Tatshenshini River by Lyman, Ordonez, and Speaks. Also Map of the Alsek and Tatshenshini Rivers, by Cloudburst Productions--907-766-2724.

We are going for the upper Alsek or Hula Hula for our next Alaskan river. Hope you have a great trip.
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Old 07-02-2010   #5
Parkersburg, West Virginia
Paddling Since: 1996
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 11
We did an August trip in 06. Awesome. We used Alsek Air out of Yakutat, really nice guy. Some of us flew back to Haines with our gear to drive back home and some of us flew to Yakutat to fly home. Don't assume that the entrance into Alsek Lake is free of bergs--scout! The guidebook describes the scout with great detail. On our trip, the entire entrance was entirely choked with bergs, and we had to do the shallow entrance on the far right side of the island and then around to the camps on the island to get into the lake. If we hadn't scouted, we would have been lucky to survive getting swept up to that unmoving wall of ice. We had been advised that it was very unlikely to have the entrance blocked, but I made sure we scouted. We saw grizzlies and black bears, but none in camp. Some came very close but skirted us. We kept a very clean camp, no smelly foods like bacon, tuna, etc. I had dehydrated our food for space and so that it wouldn't be smelly, and then double-bagged it. At the end of the trip, we had exactly one gallon baggie of trash to carry out. You burn all your trash and food scraps and wash all your dishes immediately. Also, we followed the rule of never hike or be in camp without three people together, as supposedly bears do not normally attack groups of three or more. We took bear spray and air horns also for bear issues, but didn't need to use them. Here's my trip report about our trip. Hope it helps. West Virginia Wildwater Association - Trip Reports
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Old 07-02-2010   #6
nightingale's Avatar
kittredge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 62
Thanks for the info! The reference to that book is great! I'll have to find that.

I've backpacked in the Yukon and Alaska so familiar with keeping your camp clean because of the grizzlies. Never had problems but had them close to camp.

So do you think 14ft boats are okay in size for the trip? I wouldn't need bigger? How many big rapids would you say are on the Alsek or the Tat? When I did my day run of the Tat, I was told that the rapids we did (started at Blanchard Creek-think that was the name, and then it joins the Tat) were all the big ones on the run and that the rest of it was mellow (for a river of that size).

I guess I just need to get the book and start from there.

Thanks again...
I choose the road less traveled. Now where the hell am I?
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Old 07-02-2010   #7
nightingale's Avatar
kittredge, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 62
I have also had 2 friends do Hula trips and they were actually surprised by the size of that river! But had a fantastic time...
I choose the road less traveled. Now where the hell am I?
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Old 07-02-2010   #8
wildh2onriver's Avatar
irvine, California
Paddling Since: 1987
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,197
Definitely buy the book. The rapid section on the first day will keep you busy in your heavy boat--and it will be heavy 'cause you gotta bring lots of gear. I've run it 3 times and will run the Tat again, I hope. Some things that I've found helpful to bring: Chota knee high wading boots, plenty of propane for heating water for hot drinks and showers--solar showers are worthless up there, and Goretex rain gear if you're the rower, as you will overheat while rowing in rubberized rain gear. I bring both.

I would bring a sat phone, probably won't need it, but if you do and you don't have one, you could be in deep doodoo. On my first trip we had a flip with the swimmers stranded several miles behind us after we became separated in the braids below the s-turns. Short story long, we needed a helicopter to rescue them and their boat/gear. worked out great.
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Old 07-09-2010   #9
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Idledale, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2001
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 29
Looking for any more folks to join your trip next year? I'm not a rower, but love Alaska, have been there many times, and have always wanted to see this river.

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