New Pack-rafter looking for Beg/Int Trip Partners

I’ve only done a few day trips in my pack raft - Jim River (Dalton Highway), parts of the Kanuti River, the Upper Gunnison in CO, Lower Phalen Creek (Rich Hwy), etc. The bummer about owning a pack raft is none of my friends own one, so I don’t get out much. I’m not an extremist but enjoy a nice mix of good-paced hiking and - so far - Class I-II water. I would like to develop a couple trip partners for some weekend and/or 4-5 hike/raft trips in the future and work my way up to Class III-IV water. My river skills are basic, and I need more time on the water to improve them, so I especially appreciate any trip partners willing to help cultivate my skills. I live in Homer, but come through the bowl frequently. Trip ideas on my list for next summer include the Woz (across K-Bay) and perhaps Tangle Lakes (Denali Hwy) to the Delta River (Rich Hwy). I’d also love to hike to Grey Mtn and then float down the North Fork of the Koyukuk. Any takers?

A bunch of us from Anchorage will probably run the Kenai Canyon on a Saturday late in September and may even try to run 1st Canyon of Six Mile that weekend too.

You would be welcome to join us.

Six of us PRers ran the Kenai Canyon today. The only real-time gauge is on the river below Skilak Lake. For today it says 11,600 CFS.,1,1,1,1,1,1,1

That is a lot of water. We sure could feel the difference between this and the much more comforting feel of smaller (much smaller) streams we have been running. Even mellow looking hydraulics could grab a tube and pull !!! Brace buddy brace.

Because the river is so wide there is always a clear path around any obstacle so I would have to agree with ratings I have seen as Class II (perhaps II+ at higher water?).

Once on the lake we paddled probably about 20-30 minutes down the lake shore before finding a hunting/ fishing camp and a lake shore paralleling trail that led us to the Hidden Creek Trail. The walk out took maybe 45 minutes. Lots and Lots of cranberry-filled bear scat but the only bears we saw were 2 black bruins on the Skilak Road.

Doug, your experience on the Kenai’s high flow is why I came up with a separate rating system for packrafts. You’ll discover that small creek Class III is easier for beginners than big water Class II. Similarly congested Class IV can be easier for intermediates than big tongue Class III.

Just my one cent worth.

Your observation, in part, is a message I have been trying to get out but I guess it doesn’t really matter, since Class I is Class I, Class II is Class II, Class III is Class III, etc as recounted for 2 cents elsewhere on this forum.

Multiple rating systems will not replace experience. Every beginning/intermediate river runner, regardless of craft or rating system, has a lot to learn. A rating system will not magically convert a beginner into an expert. In fact multiple rating systems will make it more difficult for beginners because there is no baseline of information, there are multiple baselines.

Including cfs in the rating system, which is what you’re proposing Roman, is a duplication of info. We already have cfs - remotely through a gauge, or by actually looking at the river, or by looking at maps and observing the size and characteristics of the watershed. Claiming that cfs is important for packrafts, and that’s why it should be intrinsic in a special rating system, is assuming that it’s not important for other craft. That assumption is based on a lack of experience in other craft. CFS is important for all craft, but in different ways. That’s why cfs, and how that cfs relates to the river channel, has always been included in run descriptions.

River runners have to learn how their particular craft handles in different conditions, and that requires getting out on appropriately rated runs and actually experiencing the differences. Perhaps some on you out there have heard of Experiential Education? If someone pays attention to the rating, the CFS, and whether that’s low, med or high, i.e. if they make well informed decisions, they will not get in over their heads. And if they’re surprised the first time they experience a good boil-induced tube suck in “flat” water, so what? Is that not part of the fun?

You can have the thread back now. Thanks.

Well said there Mhay. :wink:

This I find a bit perplexing. Maybe it’s the “easier” part I need to wrap my mind around. Any chance you would care to expand on this idea? How can a boulder congested class IV be easier than a hey diddle diddle right down the middle, big tongue class III?

disclosure: while this may come across as stirring the pot, that is not my intention. I’m just trying to get a real discussion going in regards to this particular subject and trying to understand the whole PR rating idea.

As a newbie, I would offer that small creek Class IIIs are “easier” in that they require precise maneuvering. Which is easy; indeed, I think packrafts are ideal for that. There are obstacles, holes, waves, and eddylines, but in my experience on small streams, I generally haven’t found the water to be as pushy or grabby as any of those features would feel at higher volume. The current may be fast, but the power of the water isn’t as great.

However, relatively straightforward affairs like a bigger-water Class II wave train or a fast, well-defined eddyline can seem like Niagara Falls as one bobs through them in one’s wee packraft (or not). This is what I would understand to mean “harder” – feeling pushed around in strong currents can be intimidating to say the least! Bracing skills are what’s needed here, and those aren’t yet instinctual for me. So bigger-water Class II seems “harder.”

I think I can follow that logic. To me, coming from a kayaking back ground, it doesn’t get much easier (while still being fun)than big water class 2-3. The water typically pads everything out and what maneuvering is required has more than enough wiggle room for a 16’ Avon. On top of that, a swim is of little if any consequence. Simply jump back in On shallow, rocky rivers this may not be the case. That little bit of water can often times pack a lot more punch than it may first appear. Just falling out of your raft could bring on more of a beatdown than ever imagined. Of course I still paddle my packraft with the idea that if it touches rock it will vaporize! :open_mouth: However, that has yet to be the case. :sunglasses:

That makes sense. I agree that flowing water always seems to be stronger and more powerful than it looks, but I feel less likely to swim in smaller creeks. This isn’t very realistic, though, and there’s definitely a lot more to hit in shallower creeks! And, having dumped my boat in a larger river with plenty of water, I have also learned that getting back in the boat is not as easy as I imagined it. So this is one more thing to add to my List of Skills to Improve.

Maybe the '10 model boats can come with a force field installed so that hitting rocks won’t be an issue. But those are probably heavy …

Well, to tell the truth, this can be argued back and forth all day. Once again, this is why the International Whitewater Classification Scale was invented. I understand the concept of different scales according to the type of craft paddled, but it’s too confusing, too misleading. Several scales have been attempted over time with respects to fine tuning the I.W.C.S. or changing the scale for craft paddled (google the Addison Scale by Corran Addison proposed about a decade ago, I remember when this idea came out and just didn’t stick because it was too confusing). I don’t know what more to say. Canoers are a good example. A rapid is encountered (a class III on the I.W.C.S.). A pack rafter slips right through and makes the line look easy. A kayak follows and makes it look even easier:^) j/k. Then the canoe follows and completely blows the line… a steep creek move in a canoe might be ExTrEmElY difficult to make, but that doesn’t make the rapid a class IV, that just means the move is a bit more difficult in a canoe.

That’s about as simplistic as it gets and as bare-boned honest as I can explain what we’re all talking about.
Let’s get back to boating and enjoying ourselves on the water… this forum is too addicting because issues like this pop up and so many opinions come along with it… just like mine:^)

Timmy J.

My definition for “easy” is pretty simple: paddling the boat to where you want it to be and staying in the boat. If it’s easier to get the boat where you want to be and to stay in the boat, then it’s “easier”!

My favorite heh diddle diddler is probably Hermit, in the Big Ditch, where it can be pretty darn hard to stay on the surface, even if it is just a class III, (same with Satan’s whatever in Cataract), while many small congested creeks stamped “IV” in my favorite guidebook (Alaska Whitewater, of course) are pretty easy to stay upright, like “Saddle Slide” in Canyon Creek.

Simple as that. If it’s more difficult to move the boat to the feature you want to be on, then it’s “harder” and the main feature we want to stay on is, of course, the surface. So, if it’s hard to stay on the surface, that is, you find yourself “swimming”, then it may not be “easier”.

disclosure: while I’ve been warned not to engage, I’m feeling kinda cheeky, right now.

“I’m feeling kinda cheeky, right now.”

Must be that run on Montana Crk. When are you going to use Amazing Brace as the background music?


I PM’d you on this forum a while back…and I was not too nasty!
Do you check those?


I do now. Little slow on the uptake. But once I get going…