Alaska good or bad - Mountain Buzz

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Old 09-14-2007   #1
willieWAO's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 157
Alaska good or bad

Hey Folks,
Now besides the mosquitos, cold ass water, daylight all day, being in the middle of nowhere ( no disrespect, but its alaska) what are some other disadvantages and advantages of boating in alaska,

more specifically, hows the commercial rafting scene? Do they use saftey kayaks? video/photo boatin? what kinda creeks? any afterwork specials?

All sorts of rivers
different flows
living in alaska
glacial fed rivers ( dont have to worry about water, and with good ol' global warmiing, the hotter it gets, the more water!)

thinkin of guiding in/near anchorage there this next spring


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Old 09-15-2007   #2
ecarlson972's Avatar
Summit, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2005
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Alaska rocks! Never did any boating up there but I did work on a day cruise for two summers up there! Honestly if it was not a seasonal job I would have never left. I love the place!!!! Do it and you will have a blast!
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Old 09-16-2007   #3
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
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I guided in Denali for two years at Denali Raft Adventures. Thats about 5-6 hours north of Anchorage. The cruise ship people drive business and you can make really good cash in the Denali area. The river there, the nenana, is a big water river (think 7000-14000 cfs norm, 30,000 plus at peak) that is mainly 18' oar rigs. But since many customers are 55 or 65+ yrs old (typical cruise ship folks) it is better and safer to just let them hang on.

There are also a bunch of companies that run near Hope (on the Kenai Pennisula about 1.5 hours from Anchorage, ) on a creek called Six Mile (class IV-V). That is a super fun run, vaguely 1000 CFS, and very tight. I think the Matanuska is also fairly close to Anchorage and some of the Six Mile companies also run here. The Kenai river is also rafted a fair bit, it is a super beautiful class II float trip near Cooper Landing.

There area huge number of other rivers and creeks in Alaska in every flow range you could want. The biggest issue is the lack of roads for access, but there is still plenty of goods that you can drive to.

Most companies in Denali didn't use safety kayaks. We had a minimum of two rafts on each trip, if there weren't enough customers the second guide rowed an empty boat for safety. In Denali the photos were taken by two independent companies from shore, and no one was doing video that I know about in 2002 or 03. Because there is never ending daylight for much of the summer the Denali companies offered trips starting at 7:30 am, with the latest departure leaving at 6:30pm and getting back to the shop around 9:30 pm. So if you are working a lot there isn't a ton of after work boating - unless you want to go out at 10 or 11 pm and don't have an early trip the next day. But it is pretty cool to have that option of going and playing outside at 1 am with good light.
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Old 09-18-2007   #4
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Bozeman, Montana
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Old 09-18-2007   #5
Boatin', Colorado
Join Date: Oct 2003
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Be careful. If you're just going to guide you'll love it. Nenanna, Six Mile, etc are great rivers to guide. Anchorage and Southeast Alaska are great - lots to do!

However, I lived in the bush for a year, King Salmon to be exact, and while it was an experience I will never forget, over all it blew. Small towns with no roads in or out are no place for people who enjoy boating of the whitewater sorts, ski, bike, etc. Ski towns in the lower 48 look like the fucking playboy mansion compared to bush Alaska.

However, if you fish and hunt, it's probably paradise. I couldn't cast my line fast enough to land all the salmon, grizzlies everyday, moose and elk sightings are as common as seeing a Texan in Summit County. If you want remote, true wilderness adventure, head into the bush.

I know the commercial rivers are on the road system and therefore all my points don't mean shit, as with most things I say, but if you have any questions let me know. Myself and many people I know moved to Alaska for the grandeur adventure and found ourselves paying 22 bucks for a pineapple and 15 dollars a six of Budweiser.

I wouldn't trade the experience for the world though.
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Old 09-20-2007   #6
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 9
I love AK

I live on the Northshore of MN, but own a lodge about 1 hour north of Valdez AK (Tiekel River Lodge) Tiekel River Lodge - Valdez, Alaska. It is absolute paradise IMO. There are many rivers and some are even roadside. As said above, access is a big issue. Water levels aren't an issue in our area as some stretches of river are only low enough to paddle after break-up or right before freeze-up. 3 water seasons - snowmelt high, glacier high, and rainy season! There is a good rafting company (Keystone Adventures) right to the south of us that is very good. Prices (in our area - Valdez) aren't too bad on things either compared to the lower 48. I'm most familiar with the bigger rivers in the area as the access is much better, and none of them are disappointing. All in all, it is my favorite place to kayak for sure...
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