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A Month on the Alatna

Hi Larry,

Here are some photos of our 4 week Alatna River trip last summer. Our Alaskan rivers guide book said the upper Alatna would be a good family outing with any type of boat. Well, you better have one tough family- and a SOAR is the ONLY boat to do this fast shallow water!

We flew in with BRA from Bettles early- June 10th- hoping to find deep-run off water. There was still ice on Gadeke Lake and snow on the mountains but the water was way too shallow to paddle on Gadeke Creek. We lingered at the lake a few days for the best hiking of the whole 4 weeks and a great lake trout dinner. Gadeke (gad-key) Creek was way too small and shallow to paddle. We almost had to pack up and carry everything for 4 miles down to the main river. You wouldn’t want a wide, heavy raft or a folding canoe or kayak for this upper section- the rocks are too sharp! The SOAR slid right along the bottom fully loaded.

Lining was tricky in the fast water with big boulders. Linda steered the front from shore with her paddle while I held on to the back handle and pushed over and around rocks and held the boat back in deeper sections. Several sections of the creek had thick brush on the sides with sharp dead branches sticking out. I walked the boat right down the middle of the creek. Moving slowly, we reached the main Alatna after two days of lining. But the main branch wasn’t much deeper- we continued lining for several more days rather than risk a dunking. Short sections were deep enough but the channel would soon braid into shallows.

After about 40 miles and five days of lining we could get in and paddle but still had to watch out for sweepers. Just below this slower braided section we came to a nice, narrow gorge which was a pleasure to paddle until it opened up at Ram Creek rapids. We found them easy to line on the left side. Below Ram Creek the river gradually slowed and allowed us to paddle all day and enjoy the scenery. These cliffs are just above Kutuk River and the popular Arrigetch Creek area.

We stayed a few days at one of the Arrigetch Creek outlets. Did a day hike up stream to see the awesome peaks of Arrigetch valley. It is a multi day hike to really get up into the Arrigetch and we hear it is well worth it. But we were not prepared to leave most of our gear behind with all the bear sign around. We took another two weeks to meander and fish (grayling and pike) our way down to Allakaket. There our BRA pilot picked us up for a hop over to Walker Lake and a 4 week adventure down the Kobuk River- but that’s another story!

We bought the SOAR to do long trips like this one. Last year we did 8 weeks on the Noatak without having to get a resupply drop– we never could have fit enough stuff into our Klepper to do 8 weeks without a food drop.

Enjoy your web site and love the boat.

Will and Linda Forsberg,
Fairbanks, AK