Kern Creek the Hard Way

We packrafted Kern Creek Saturday. The approach was over the pass from the Winner Creek Trail. There is a large amount of avalanche debris that makes for reasonable post holing over the substantial elevation gain up the middle and to the left of the pass. We continued on the right side of the mountain to the edge of the main ravine and slid down the snow pack (8+ feet) to the first water fall and then left through alder patch to the beginning of the valley floor. From there, it’s class 3 bushwhack for several hundred yards and a crossing to river right where the main canyon begins to form. We portage the first big drop, and then put in at the more mellow, fast, and narrow portion. The river requires a high degree of vigilance, and there is plenty of wood, rocks, and drops to make this a solid PR4, with many class 5 drops. The portages are difficult due to alders, but the river volume is reasonable right now. We portaged two particularly nasty river wide sweepers early after the second set of falls in te steep portion of the canyon, and then eventualy packed out into the woods and were luckily enough to find the flagged trail that dumps out two hundred yards north of the chugach park sign on Seward Highway. Round trip 11 hours.

Mark and I were up looking at Kern on Friday. Did you guys run Snakes Back and Beer Can Falls? The falls looked as clean as usual, but Snakes Back looked tricky with that amount of water. The trail makes access pretty easy. I wonder how much farther you ran than most who just hike up the run.

We went up Kern last year. It’s a tricky entrance but very fun. Danny Crow ran Snake Back, it was a nozzle on steroids at that level. The entrance is narrower than packraft with a rock wall that could easily be trouble. Danny nailed it, check it out on YouTube. We all ran Beer Can, it’s a clean falls.

That explains the new rope on the log over snake-back! Video is great, he definitely hit it perfect.

We didn’t run either. I’m guessing we were about as high up as we could get.