Sunday, June 27, 2010

Willow Creek

I think Willow Creek is my favorite whitewater run in a packraft.  Of course you've got the classics, Campground Rapids (local stomping ground), Six Mile (big smiles at low water), Bird Creek (short but technical), Lion's Head (really silty)....but for some reason I love going back to float the Willow.

The water is crystal clear and relatively warm, yeah you still need a drysuit.  The rapids are technical, but won't absolutely thrash you due to the "pool-drop" style characteristics of the river.  Meaning if you swim a drop, you'll likely be able to swim to shore at the bottom of the recovery pool.

There are two runs on this river, Redgate and Guardrail.  Redgate is the more beginner float at CLI-II, and Guardrail being the more intermediate run at CLII-III.  The Upper Willow is run by the hardshellers and experts at CLV+.

The Hoff and I made an early morning jaunt to take advantage of a recent rain spike in the gauge.  The trail was super slick, and I ended up on my ass more than twice.  This would be the M.O. for the first rapid, "Warmup Rapid".

After scouting the put-in, we chose to run "the drop above the Guardrail put-in".  There aren't any pictures of our run, but here is a vid put together from our run about 2 weeks ago.

Shortly after this 3-4 foot ledge drop, you enter "Warmup Rapid".  I viewed most of this rapid upside down, as the burly water took me for a ride.  It was good to cool down in the recovery pool.  The rest of the run was all smiles.  I'd look back at Marc, and see grins had by all.  We got to surf a lot of waves on the Redgate section, and made the run in about 90 mins.

Here is a map of our adventure.
 Definitely one of my local favs, and even better with a Summer Ale at the take-out.

Labels: , , , ,

Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Little Su(sitna)

I've been wanting to run this section of the Little Susitna ever since driving up to Hatcher Pass to go skiing.  Tim Johnson calls this the "best non-stop, road-side, bang for your buck in Alaska!" in his book Alaska Whitewater:A Guide to Rivers and Creeks in the Last Fronteir.

So we didn't actually run that section of the river, but ran from the Hatcher Pass bridge over the Baby Su, to the Edgerton Parks Road bridge.  I must say, it was mad balla.

I always love after work packrafting in SCAK.  The regular team rallied for another adventure, with a small contingent from the Meetup Group.

And this is how we started the day.  Doc with a little swim lesson.  The "Warmup Rapid", a small little Class III section.

Gearing up at the put-in.
Doc, Patrick, and Doug ready to shred the "Sieve".  Doc would get his boat pinned below the large rock in the center of the river.  This was his second rope rescue of the night.
Jody workin' it.
Doug running the "Sieve".  The rock in front of him is where Doc got pinned.  I ran it clean ;-)
Lots of Class II splashy fun.

Brian 'splainin what it's all about....F-U-N.  Shown in one of the many pools of the pool-drop characteristics of this river.

Schooners of beer and pizza were on the agenda at Pizza Man, an after boating tradition.

Speaking of other boating traditions... is to drink a beer out of your bootie if you swim a particular rapid.  It's known as the "bootie beer".  And if someone in your group retrieves you or your gear, you owe them a round.  Doc declined.

Labels: , , , ,

Packrafting Adventures on the ER

I'm still in the delinquent category for postings.  I've still got Rabbit Creek and Denali National Park on the drawing stay tuned.

But first at hand is the recent packraft adventures.  What's a packraft you say, well check out this link.  You may also want to see the bloggage from the Grandfather of packrafting, Roman Dial.

While the fam was in town for a visit, I took my bro-in-law Brendo for a trip down the Eagle River.  We did the standard run known as bridge-to-bridge.  Starting at the Briggs Bridge on the Eagle River Loop Road, and running to the Glenn Highway Bridge.

Filling up the boats.
Da boys, B'do and Matty J ready to shred.
The river was running about 1000 cfs, so a little bit juicier than previous runs.  Brennen quickly got the hang of it and we were off.  The packraft is fairly forgiving, so any mistake wasn't too serious.  We did see a cow and her newborn calf on the side of the river - and B'do almost flipped it.

Of interesting note, Meg snapped this picture of Raina and Peeking.  An area that we skied a couple of weeks ago.  We skied the cooler from the top of the saddle on the lookers right, Raina Peak.

We got out just above the Class III section of the Campground Rapids and met up with the ladies, and scouted the rapid.  I was the only one to run it, and did so river right.  It was nice and pushy, and very fun.

The day wouldn't be complete without some swiftwater rescue.  We decided to do some rope training.  Me and Brennen on the float...

I said put the rope on your opposite shoulder.  Matty J slays Goliath...
Brennen pulling a king from the Eagle River.
I'm not sure if this was the highlight of his trip, or the large quantity of Ice Axe Ale consumed.  By my count it was around 12 pints and 1 Growler.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Kodiak, Attu, and Shemya

I've been a bit behind on posts.  The fam is in town, so I have some catching up to do.

I recently took a trip out to Kodiak, Attu and Shemya with the officers of the Alaska District, Corps of Engineers.  The purpose of the trip was professional development, specifically to see the terrain surround the Battle of Attu, which took place in 1943.

We arrived in Kodiak and prepared for the USCG flight to Attu the next morning.  The flight goes to Attu on a USCG C-130 every 2 weeks for resupply and personnel change out.  With a night to kill in Kodiak, we hit up the Kodiak Brewery for some Liquid Sunshine and Sarah Pale Ale.  Dinner festivities took place at Henry's Great Alaskan Restaurant.

We awoke early the next morning after attempting to drink the island dry.  At least we had a 4 hour plane flight to sober up.

We had about a 4 hour layover on Attu, the farthest west island in the Aleutian chain.

Our tour guide, Chief Beeson, the officer-in-charge of the United States Coast Guard LORAN station, took us in the snowcat to the top of Engineer Hill.  I should've brought my skis, as this was our transpo for the trip.
Engineer Hill is the location where the Japanese made their final offensive maneuver.  Engineers from the 50th Engineer Battalion and 13th Engineer are responsible for the fending off the Japanese counter attack.

This is a peace memorial constructed by the Government of Japan.  Notice the large peak in the background.  I am sure it would be a first ski descent.

Remnants of war still exist.  A tent stake remains in the ground; 67 years after the guns went silent.
We toured a good part of the eastern half of the island.  We walked through the brig, as much of the structures are still visible, but fallen down.  Looking into Massacre Bay.                   
The Coast Guard station is some pretty nice digs.  Approximately 20 full time personnel are present, and they have a full service kitchen, wood shop, entertainment deck, sporting equipment (snowboards only), and yes.....a bar.  You get 4 beers per night if you are over 21 years of age.
All of the personnel assigned to the District assemble for a group picture.

Marston Matting, which is a steel mat layed down on a subbase material for field expedient airfields, is found discarded everywhere.  This mat was most likely installed by BG Benjamin Talley's Engineers, an icon within the Alaska District.

An old anti-aircraft artillery piece overlooks the current airfield.
Stay tuned for some additional pictures from our 'team building' event in Shemya.  We "double dipped" the Bering Sea and the Pacific Ocean.  Ambient air temperature: 41 F; Water temperature: ~37F; 40+ mph wind not factored in to the windchill.  Pics to follow.

Labels: , , , , , , ,