Have wanted to combine Chitistone with Kenecott/Nizina/Chitina/Copper for some time now. Just back yesterday.
Surprisingly a very good trip in May, with low water but high winds, still plenty of light and sun to make it enjoyable and snow on the mountains to make it pretty. Also no bugs.
We flew in to Solo Creek on the White River, hiked past the Russle Glacier, walked the frozen lake at Skolai Pass, postholed over Chitistone Pass, scrambled through the Goat Trail, walked to Glacier Creek where we got in our boats, paddled to Nizina Road, walked into McCarthy and played softball with the locals. Neat rules there: swing till you hit!
Low water Kenecott is like PR4 = Class III-, Nizina Canyon at low water is PR3 biggish water but fun and easy and safe. Chitina is beautiful and fast and no problem at May water level, likely one of the best river trips I have done in AK. Getting close to town of Chitina the winds spill upstream from the Copper and it’s an interesting ferry over the Copper in the big winds of afternoon.
We were worried about Wood Canyon, but it was just scenic and narrow with no big water at all. Again this is low water of May at 5 AM when there is no wind. Big water + big wind = uh-oh don’t go. Downstream of Wood Canyon super scenic in early morning light with mountains rising like 5000 feet off the river.
By Teikel River afternoon winds had us camping again and putting in at 11 PM. Paddled past the Tasnuna and Peninsula in full moon midnight. Again this is all super friendly packraft water in May. I did much of this in July in 1995 with mountain bikes on our boats and it was also fine, but May is more fine.
There was lake ice at Miles Lake and we had to do the packraft scooch to get through. Abercrombie Rapids were a disappointment at the low water of May we encountered…but immediately downstream of Childs Glacier were two sets of PR3-4 big waves and a few holes. Followed a wolverine for about 5 minutes in the upper delta. Deep snow along the water’s edge on the delta with green leaved cottonwoods poking above – weird.
Anyway, contrary to what you may have heard the McCarthy to Cordova river run is a definite go in a packraft in May, like a seriously great river trip, one of the best in the state. Higher water would be more exciting, but this is a world class trip and the delights of May sunshine on snowy peaks and glaciers, long days, and no bugs make it something to put on your list for next year.