July '17 Cross Chichagof Packraft trip

South and east of Cordova, including Yakutat, Glacier Bay, Juneau and on down the Panhandle
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Joined:Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:13 am
July '17 Cross Chichagof Packraft trip

Post by tkinak » Sun Aug 27, 2017 8:46 pm

This July we hiked and Packrafted across Chichagof Island. We started by boating to Pelican, overnighting then getting dropped off on the beach at the head of Lisianski Inlet. We hiked across a ridge into Steelhead creek where we rafted to its upper end then deflated and portaged across to the "Goulding Lakes" These are several lakes connected by narrow passages or portages. We paddled to the Goulding lakes cabin on Otter lake, a nice A frame, about nine hours total. We stayed several days exploring, fishing and relaxing. We paddled and hiked from the cabin to the outer coast in roughly five hours. Most of the hike out was on an old mine trail and pretty good walking. Some of the old railway is still there. One portage between lakes was steep and slow going. Another small delay was rafting across a fast creek in a steep ravine, luckily there was a calm pool and beautiful waterfall at the head of the ravine. Once upon a time there was a bridge across it. We inflated again and drifted out Goulding river and were met by a friend and his boat (and seventeen bears)in Goulding harbor. The bears were plenty busy eating sedges waiting for the fish run to start and didn't give us a second look. We timed it so we came out at high tide. We went from there to White Sulpher hot springs for a soak. The White Sulpher cabin was booked so we went rented Green top cabin for a couple days before returning to Pelican and then Juneau.

I'll add more pictures as I can.

GPS track of the trip.
Cross Chichagoff trip.jpg
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Passage between the lakes.
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Looking back at the passage between the first and second lake from the ridge across from the cabin.
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Paddling across Otter lake.

IMG_3189-2.JPG[/attachment Beach in front of Glouding cabin. [attachment=0]Cross rest stop-2.jpg

View of beach in front of cabin and lake outlet to the left. Pretty good fishing from the point in the middle of the picture.

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White Sulphur hot springs. A well deserved soak. The view is of the Pacific ocean, spectacular!!!
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Joined:Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:14 am

Re: July '17 Cross Chichagof Packraft trip

Post by jharley » Fri Jul 24, 2020 8:45 am

Some friends and I repeated this great trip last weekend, wanted to post some updated beta.

We got a ride to the outflow of Steelhead Creek, crossed over a small saddle to the SE and stayed high through the muskeg before dropping into the creek at a recent landslide on the far side. We crossed the creek and hiked up the muskeg on the opposite side until we accessed the first lake. The muskeg was nice walking but there was a fair amount of elevation gain/loss, so I can't say whether this route is better or worse than the one above. It took us about 5 hours to get to the lake.

We followed the lower lake to the cabin, took us about 7 hours total beach to cabin.

From the cabin we paddled into the lower lake and then once reaching the waterfall/log jam we hopped out on "river left" or the South side of the lake. This is a much better portage than the right side, which is I believe the one tkinak took and described as "steep and slow going". On the South side just hump up the muskeg and once reaching the top trend down and left and you'll find a good trail with some saw marks.

Once through the final lake, the old tram trail can be accessed just before the large lake picks up some current and flows into a smaller sub-lake. It was a bit hard to find, but climb into the muskeg and start looking for old "bridges" or groups of sawed logs on the ground. That'll put you on the right path. You'll start to see blazes as well, and it may be worthwhile to drop packs and follow them to where the old bridge used to be - pretty cool spot, but not where you'll be taking the boats. Take the boats and head down good trails just above the waterfalls and drop down to the point formed by the Goulding River waterfalls and the creek coming through the steep ravine draining Mine Mountain. Blow up and put in on the Goulding River.

The entirety of the river is easily floatable from here to the ocean, assuming there is enough water. After some initial shallow splashes (Class II) the river mellows out substantially and there are only 2 obstacles. The first is a small constriction, which had a bit of wood at the end but was easily runable. There's a large pool above and can be scouted and/or portaged on river left.

The second is a 4 foot slide just before getting into the tidal zone. Another big pool on top and you'll see the horizon line, pull out on river left to find a huge bear trail and a perfect scout of the rapid. At our flows it was a beautiful drop with many safe lines and no bad ones, either run it or walk around on the bear trail and put back in. Then you're in Goulding Harbor, watch out for bears. Note that while it has been raining a lot this summer, I don't think the water levels were abnormally high, the lake levels weren't bank full and the river wasn't either, so I imagine this river is floatable unless it's been a particularly dry stretch like summer '19.

It took us about 5 hours from cabin to ocean, although we stopped and fished for a half hour and played on the rapid for another half. We then paddled out to dry pass and hiked the dry pass trail to Saltwater Slough and paddled to Mirror Harbor and hiked to White Sulfur cabin. This took an additional 6 hours. The trail is slow going in places with lots of blowdowns and we got off trail at one point, it's a bit hard to follow through the muskeg. But all in all a great trip and one I'll be repeating for sure.

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