Alaska to - Mountain Buzz

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Old 10-20-2013   #1
Girdwood, Alaska
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 2
Alaska to


I have been lurking around this site for a couple years, but I have never posted anything. This March I turn 40 and would very much like to come down to Idaho for a few weeks and do some rafting to celebrate another decade of my existence.

Since I have my summers off as a teacher in Alaska, our family spends a lot of time on the river. My kids have done numerous multi-day trips in Alaska: Lake Creek, Talachulitna, Chulitna, Gulkana, Delta, and others. We use a 16 Sotar raft for our family trips. My kids are experienced with cold water/weather and bears. When I am running whitewater solo, I use my 13 Sotar Cat. I have taken my cat on the limited amount of road accessible raftable whitewater runs in AK: 6 Mile, Lions Head, Nenanna, Eagle River, and Guardrail. The only legit Class V is 6 Mile, and I have about a 75% success rate on this run. One of the main reasons I want to go to Idaho is to get more experience with rowdy water. I recently sold my 13 cat to help pay for season passes and my kids ski racing gear, but I plan on replacing it with a Legend this spring/summer.

Ideally, I will get a permit. With that said, I realize the odds are not in my favor, so I want some contingency plans. For a week or so I will be with my wife and kids (10 and 7); the rest of the trip I will be flying solo. I would like to do some multi-day trips and for the solo part of my trip some whitewater. My dream trip would be the Middle Fork. I have also heard really good things about the Main, and I realize this is a better option with kids.

I am teacher in Alaska, and our school year ends May 23, so I am flexible with dates. I am not sure if I will be driving my truck and bringing my raft or flying down and renting/borrowing/buying gear.

My hope is that I can connect with some cool boaters who can show me some local runs, possibly crash on a couch, borrow/rent gear, leech on to a permit, etc. What I am willing to do in return for your assistance is help you out with a trip to Alaska. We live in a cool little cabin in Girdwood that is the community at the base of Alyeska. Our family likes to go to Hawaii during the holiday break or spring break, so maybe we could work out some kind of house/boat swap. It is an ideal location for resort/backcountry/heliskiing, and in the summer it is in a centralized location for fishing, both saltwater and fresh water. Also, Id be willing to go boating with you, lend out gear, help with shuttles, or whatever.

I am a super laid-back ski bum/rafter/teacher/dad/husband, and I have social chameleon skills that will allow me to blend in within any group. Id appreciate any advice on rivers to float, time of year to come, places to rent/borrow/buy gear.


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Old 10-20-2013   #2
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,165
Being cold water/air temp accommodating is a big plus for early season Idaho boating. The Main salmon permit season doesn't start until mid June, and the Middle Fork has early season permits until late May. Access issues with the Middle Fork and the whitewater would make it a poor choice for 7 and 10 years olds in the early season. But it generally isn't too hard to get on and it's a very fun run for class IV/V boaters. I've never done the Main, but it's supposed to be a grade or so easier than the Middle Fork. Might be a good bet for a multi-day with the kids.
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Old 10-20-2013   #3
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 2009
Join Date: Jun 2011
Posts: 97
Yeah, perfect timing to do a middle/main combo! Middle permits are easy to get in early June - you apply in January but cancellations are also easy to get. You'll probably have better luck getting on somebody else's trip as the date gets closer. I'm probably doing one or the other or both in June, but won't have firm plans until May-ish. Like raftus said, the middle may be a bit dicey for the family but the main is more straightforward, although it will be running cold and fast. I'm in Missoula, should have couch space, and will certainly be running the Lochsa and other day trip rivers closer to home.
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Old 10-20-2013   #4
LochsaIdaho's Avatar
Missoula, Montana
Paddling Since: 1993
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 77
Sure come see me on the Lochsa River. Just a day run but super fun class 4. I don't think a trip to Idaho would be complete without running this gem- probably like a slightly less burly 6 mile. The Lochsa is fairly straight forward if you know where to be but if you are in the wrong place you will be swimming no doubt. No permit necessary. End of May is usually peak flow but the Lochsa is always good at every level on the boating spectrum. We are always happy to meet other river rats. Don't worry about "pay backs" just bring beer. Justin Walsh [email protected]
Rig to flip and dress to swim...
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Old 10-21-2013   #5
raftus's Avatar
Boulder, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2000
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 1,165
The Lochsa is awesome. Many times bigger than sixmile, less technical, and frankly easier (especially compared to the third canyon of Sixmile). More big water whitewater reading skills required on the Lochsa - kinda like the Nenana at highwater, but the Lochsa has a lot more rapids and they're more technical than the rapids on the Nenana. Although if you've ever been on the Nenana at 30,000+ cfs the size of the waves and holes are bigger than anything I've run in Idaho. But I've seen some highwater photos of the North Fork Payette that are pucker inducing - I've never been on that (the NF Payette) at high water - but it looks serious.
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Old 10-22-2013   #6
Girdwood, Alaska
Paddling Since: 1992
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 2
Hey thanks for the responses everyone!

I intend to show up solo in Idaho the last week of May and remain solo until the first week or so of June. During this time, I will focus on whitewater. My kids and wife will fly down around June 10th or so. At that point we will do something mellow in Idaho, and/or go visit family and float something in Montana.

I have heard great things about the Lochsa, and after watching a video on Justin's site, I'm stoked...I did not realize how many different rapids there are on the river. I'll shoot you guys messages when things get closer, and will definitely bring beer.

Raftus, it sounds like you've spent some time in AK. Did you guide up here? I've been on the Nenana when it is cranking, and you feel pretty small. The 3rd canyon on 6 Mile is a pretty cool place too... although it's not fun to be upside down there.

Any more suggestions on whitewater day trips in Idaho and Montana would be greatly appreciated.

Hope you guys get lots of snow this winter!

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Old 10-23-2013   #7
Helena, Montana
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 65
For Montana whitewater day trip try Beartrap Canyon on Madison. Short trip but three fun rapids. Middle one is Kitchen Sink. Best to scout it. Best if run above 1800 cfs. Above 2400 gets challenging and more technical. If you have family try Middle Fork Flathead near West Glacier or Blackfoot east of Missoula. Alberton Gorge on Clark Fork is fun too. Close to Missoula. Okay for family with your experience
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Old 10-23-2013   #8
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Boise, Idaho
Paddling Since: 1976
Join Date: May 2013
Posts: 362
Welcome. I will be shooting for a Main Salmon trip in May or early June and will be looking at a Middle Fork trip also around then. As mentioned, the MFS is not a child friendly stretch in May. Either way you are welcome to join any trip I have going that time of year. Additionally, I live in Boise so it is easy to hit many class III, IV and V stretches form here for day trips and multi day trips. That time of year is ideal to get on the Owyhee, Bruneau, or Jarbridge rivers. These are remote desert canyon trips that vary from 3 to 14 days. They are usually to low by mid or late June to raft. Other stretches within 45 min. to two hours from Boise are; The Payette River (the Main III, The South Fork IV, The Canyon IV, The Cabarton III, etc...), The SF of the Boise River, The Snake river. You get the idea.
I have plenty of room for you and your tribe but am considering selling my house this spring. So if you plan on coming to Boise as a hub of your rafting trip, give me a shout ahead of time and we will put some adventures together. If I do sell my place, I will have no problem finding you other quarters. I have a 3 bedroom condo also that is only occupied half the time. so we could figure it out.
Email or call if you want.

Albert Dickson
[email protected]
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Old 10-23-2013   #9
lhowemt's Avatar
at my house, Montana
Paddling Since: 2020
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4,606
Make sure to post as spring approaches and people know what the snowpack is like and spring schedules. First weekend in June is the lose it on the Lochsa festival, and Riggins has a festival and the Little Salmon.
Living in Montana, boating in Idaho
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Old 10-23-2013   #10
Worley, Idaho
Paddling Since: 2013
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 101
If you're down there during Memorial Day weekend you have to do the Lochsa River. Dozens and dozens of folks set up with lawn chairs, BBQ, Beer and cheering all the yakers, cat boats and rafts going over the Lochsa Falls. It's awesome!! Lots and lots of boats and lots of fun. Check out youtube and type in Lochsa River Madness......don't watch 2008 though, you may change your mind.
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