Anyone have any information on the Jacksina. I have Embick’s book so I have that information. Has it been run before by packrafters?
Ran it about 10 years ago in inflatable kayaks in early-mid June. The short canyon was a quick thrill and other than that . . . piece of cake. I was not looking for a way to bank scout or portage the canyon so I cannot give you any tips on that. I would go before water is real high – ours was about as high as I would want in a pack raft. In late August or September it would probably be great water but full of sheep hunters. Are you one of them?
Jaeger Mesa to Jacksina Creek
On July 5-7 2013 three of us hiked the Jaeger Mesa and floated out the Jacksina Creek. The trip was a total length of 27.4 Miles hiking and 17.2 Miles packrafting.
Day 1 (10.4 miles):
We camped the night of July 4 at the NPS parking area at the end of the Nabesna Rd. The road is passable with a 4x4 1.7 miles to the Nabesna Mine, but for those without should park at the NPS parking area. From the Nabesna Mine, which is private property and contains ugly acid mine drainage pollution, we bushwacked south to Jacksina Creek. The first 400 yards are the worst bushwacking then it turns to short birch brush and tussocks.
Jacksina Creek was running approximately 3000-4000 cfs (medium flow based on Embick’s estimate), so we were able to cross without using the packrafts. From the creek we headed straight up Gold Hill. After gaining Gold Hill there is a 1000’ deep valley that needs to be crossed before heading up to Jaeger Mesa.
(An alternative route would be to hike up Jacksina Creek and head up the valley in order to avoid the excess elevation gain and loss over Gold Hill. An even easier alternative would be to hire Kirk, owner of Devils Mountain Lodge, to fly his double-wide Cub to the top of Jaeger Mesa. The trip would only take 15 minutes and he charges $350/hr.)
Access up Jaeger Mesa is steep. Stay on the west side of the Mesa and sidehill until the talus looks safe enough to climb. We camped on the shoulder of Jaeger Mesa at ~6300’ next to a small creek.
Day2 (13.1 miles to put-in, 1.9 miles float on Jacksina Creek):
Walking on Jaeger Mesa is a treat. 360deg views and mostly thin alpine tundra. Stay near the west edge of the Mesa and search for well-drained areas. Any poorly drained areas are tussocks. Near the end of the Mesa, closer to Mesa Creek, we aimed for Cone Ridge in order to reach the lowest angle nose of the Mesa. We dropped into Mesa Creek along the southwest nose, which is steep talus and appears to be the only safe place to descend. We crossed Mesa Creek and followed a bomber caribou trail along the base of Cone Ridge. After scaring off a bear in the brush, we descended the steep creek through steep brush and hopping large boulders. We put on for just a couple miles to get to a better camping area, although camping at the mouth of the creek was possible.
(Alternative: If we had another day we would have liked to have hiked south along the pass to the east of Cone Ridge.)
Day 3 (15.3 miles float [2.5 hrs], 4 miles hike back to car)
After only a couple miles Jacksina Creek turns from braided to a single channel that flows through a spectacular canyon. The first rapid “Entrance Rapid” (62.2336, -143.2537) is the hardest, and we found it easy class III with boulders and medium size holes. With only minor maneuvering all obstacles were easy to avoid. We estimated the flow to be medium. Embick called the river IV- at medium to high flows. The rapid is only a couple hundred yards long, after which it is just a swift class II channel. After about 1.5 miles we reached the mouth of Mesa Creek. Just downstream from the mouth there is a large cave in the cliff on river right, which indicates the start of “Cave Rapid” (62.2417, -143.2041). This rapid is about 400 yds long and is II+. From here on out the river gradually changes from a single channel to braided.
The canyon could be considered the “Volcanic Grand Canyon of the North.” The walls are made up of the Miocene Wrangell Volcanic rocks that consist of solid, occasionally columnar, lava flows mixed with blocky pyroclastic flows. Vertical dikes intrude the rocks throughout the canyon. Near the bottom of the canyon some lacustrian and alluvial white colored deposits are interbedded with the volcanic rocks.
Check out the pics:
Yeah,It ran before.
The canyon was only like a class two when I ran it in the third week of September, 2013 with many tedious braided and shallow channels once you exit the canyon. We could see the high water mark nearly ten feet above us though… It was a relatively straightforward two day walk from the Nabesna road to the Jacksina, and several chilly days on the Nabesna river with snow falling daily.