Three of us had a good trip down the Aniakchak over the 4th. We flew out all of the gear (bear spray, fuel, rafts) with ACE air cargo) the day before, picked up our gear after exiting the Penair flight, and then were flying directly into the caldera with Branch River Air by 11 am. There were no bugs and full sunshine inside the caldera for two days, and the hikes up the 1931 Vent and around the warm springs were outstanding.
A day later I had relocated and greatly reinforced my tent inside a fort of willows because it had attempted to take flight during the night’s storm. There were steady 20 knot winds inside the caldera with an occasional much higher gusts and consistent lake-wide whitecaps by the afternoon. This forced a portage around the lake. Surprisingly, the winds around the entrance to the Gates were no worse than elsewhere so we continued out of the crater, and eventually scouted and portaged the Gate’s rapids. The river seemed higher than what I’ve seen in the videos online. We witnessed several large rockfalls hiking through this area.
The two day float to the coast was a continuous cycle of light rain and steady headwind. The beginner packrafter in our group navigated Hidden Creek rapids without any problems, and we portaged one sketchy corner of river that had some willows clogging part of the channel. We didn’t see any bears, but the low tide paddle at the mouth of the river didn’t reveal a substantial amount of fish either. By noon one day later we were flying out during a very fortunate break in the storm from the northern area of the lagoon near the NPS cabin.