McCarthy to White River

During the last week in July, 2009 Meaghan Loughlin, Chris Brehmer and I traversed from McCarthy to the bridge across the White River on the Alcan.

The only info we could gather about the White River was from Fast and Cold and we heard through the grapevine that a guy who teaches about glaciers at APU and may or may not play in a rock band executed our intended route on foot and packraft. I believe his wife was his partner for the trip. We played phone tag but never connected.

After convincing Chris’s gorgeous and generous wife to care for their 4 young children so Chris could accompany us, we departed Anchorage for Glen Allen. In Glen Allen we left a vehichle at the hub and continued in one vehichle to McCarthy. In McCarthy we haggled the parking attendant to just charge us a $50 flat rate fee as long as we made it back within a month. Our packs all weighed in under 45 lbs each person carrying a comfortable 7 days of food. We aren’t adventure racers, just out for a good time. We all carried drysuits. We walked out of McCarthy down the May Creek road toward the Nizina River. We received a ride about half way down the road from a generous young couple sporting a bottle Jameson and eager to share. After reaching th Nizina we swaggered for a few hours and then made camp, breaking into our own stash of single malt. The next day we donned drysuits and blew up butt boats and made out way up the Nizina to the Chitistone to the Goat Trail over the next three days.
We ran into friends that were coming from Solo Creek and floating the rivers we were hiking up
We travelled through Chitistone and Skolai pass to the Headwaters of the White River. Meaghan was in charge of the camera most of the time, so this is the only picture we’ve got of her. Nature in all of her beauty!
We floated down to the Canadian Boarder just before the first canyon. The river is described in Fast and Cold. From our point of view, the river was at medium high levels and the first canyon was full value big water class III. Chris took a fluke of a swim in a hole hidden in a wave train, but he executed the fastest packrafter roll I have ever seen and pulled hard with a boat full of water to avoid being burried in the next corner. One corner later we broke out into a huge river delta with enourmous views. The views on the Alaska side of the river were out of control, looking at Mt. Bona, Churchill, Riggs, Natazatt etc… The second canyon was no problemo after the first canyon with the bridge across the Alcan coming into site after an hour of big waves but straight foward floating. Hitchhiking back to america was an adventure in itself, I’ll post it on the hitchhike website. Chris didn’t have a passport, so you can imagine the fun he had.
This was my favorite packraft trip to date.

Cody Arnold

Thanks for the report! Sounds like a very good trip.

I would be interested in additional information in White River. Is it too difficult for a newbie with only a little bit of whitewater experience? Can you walk around the canyon?

Many thanks.