My wife and I made this trip July 30 - Aug. 5. Couldn’t get all our gear and food in our backpacks, so we went in with an outfitter and rode horses, with a mule carrying our packs and rafts. The short story is that the trip was harder than I expected, and we fully expected to spend more time fishing. The horseback ride in was 9 1/2 hours to travel 26 miles to the mouth of Gordon Creek via the Holland Lake, Owl Creek trailhead. I’ve never ridden a horse for more than 2 1/2 hours in a single day in my entire life. Everyone, including the outfitter and wranglers suffered extreme sore butt syndrome from the long ride.
The river was about normal flow for the time we were there. We had to walk and drag innumerable shallow riffles. For all the butt dragging and high centering I did, I’m very impressed with how tough Alpacka packrafts are. I should have brought sturdier footwear for the walking, wading, and dragging. By the 3rd day the bottoms of my feet were pounded to a pulp. Those were the downsides. The upside is that it’s an incredibly beautiful wilderness river and valley, and packrafting is a lot of fun when you aren’t wading and dragging it through the shallows. The trout fishing is pretty good too, but for every large trout hooked, we caught a dozen or more small ones.
The 3 1/2 mile hike out at the end is easy enough, but the 50 mile gravel road back to civilization helps make the price of admission to this wilderness experience high enough that not everyone is going to try it.