Six Mile

On Sunday Oct 7, six of us ran Six Mile at 8.71 feet (450 cfs), the first and second canyons.

Then four of us also ran the third canyon. It was chilly – in the 30’s and 40’s but no ice.

This run was likely the first all-packraft descent (no safety kayaks or other boats) – We ran every rapid.

The First Canyon is relatively easy (1/6 swam). The Second harder (3 of 6 swam). The third is no place for novices (everyone swam at least once, but never all at the same time).

As far as I know it was the first descent by a red-headed mother also.


The reason we were able to run this Class IV classic is because we packrafters are moving into a phase where we can help each other and help ourselves using techniques discussed elsewhere on this board (

In particular, we did wet entries while between Class IV drops, we rescued boats by flipping them right side up and clipping a short tether to the bow and towing the empty boat, we grabbed loose paddles and held two paddles in our hands and paddled to eddies with them, and we rescued swimmers by having them grab the stern tube and towing them.

As we packrafters run more exciting whitewater we must think about and prepare for the inevitable swims:

I find holding onto a paddle that is NOT tied to the boat and jumping back into the boat is the BEST method for regaining control of my situation after flipping; that is, making an immediate self-rescue recovery – what I call the packrafting roll.

If swimmer, paddle and boat get separated, then having a group of four is an ideal minimum (one swimmer + 1 paddle retriever + 1 boat tower + 1 swimmer rescuer).

But you know packrafting is a social sport!

The Video from Sunday is Live!

quick and dirty editing job,

None of us noticed it at the time but there actually was a rave going on in Hope, my camera picked it up somehow.

We left town in falling snow that fell thicker as we drove south. Turnagain Pass had a line of cars parked and skiers skinning out and up. It seemed silly to be headed out to packraft and I was surprised that a certain boater had been coaxed out into this madness. Personally I could think of nothing more appealing. I had run Ship Creek six times in five days and needed a change. And my wife was out of town and it’d been lonely at home with her gone.

While it was 32 degrees and snowing, there wasn’t any ice on the river and it actually felt warmer than the October 7 trip. Brad, JT, Becky King and Tony were all up for this, expecially after running Ship Creek multiple times over the last week. Best of all, the water in Six Mile was low, low, low – running at ~8.6 feet or 390 cfs. Like late season snow, late season boating on Class IV classics is good for the ego.

We decided to put in just upstream of the foot bridge, above the 1st canyon’s first rapid, where a wide trail leads down. The water was running at 85% of the flow of the Oct 7 trip and things looked much easier, slower, and simply more fun. The first set of rapids in the 1st canyon – 17-ender, and the next waterfall drop – we ran twice, dragging our rafts kid-sled-style in the snow. The remaining three or four drops down to Canyon Creek were also easy, requiring maneuvering that is no harder than Eagle Rivers’ Campground Rapids in midsummer, but much less powerful.

We got out at Canyon Creek and shuttled down to Boston Bar – essentially cherry-picking the second canyon. It too was low and easy (relatively). I was amazed at Becky King’s style and smile – she had a big grin on every drop and seemed to simply float, like a little bubble of joy, across every hole. She honestly seemed unable to get bander-snatched or otherwise squirted in any rapid.

JT, who’s been boating for 20 years, and has run 6 mile many times in a hardshell kayak, had that typical kayaker-in-a packraft look on his face: the same expression most dogs have when you pick them up off the ground, “Why are you making me do this?”. He was the only one of the four of us who didn’t swim at least once in the third canyon. The Staircase was really no big deal – the trickiest rapid was Merry Go Round with two near flips and one swim. Of course Becky just styled it with a smile.

Anyway, with each low water, creekin-fun paddle, the third canyon loses some of its mystique and its bad-ass reputation. But come summer and water over 9, 10, even 11 feet (no place for packrafters, right?), it comes back as a big scary, hard-ass river. So, get some while it’s good and sweet and low: under 400 cfs.

BTW there’s a river wide strainer/sweeper just upstream of Staircase and below a steep little drop – Be careful there, it’s easy to pull out into a river RIGHT eddy and portage, but a swim in the drop above the eddy might put you into the log.

Sixmile Web small.jpg

As of November 24th there was a river-wide strainer wedged in the 1st canyon just below 17th Ender and just upstream of the foot bridge.

Six mile on December 1?
I can think of a half-dozen of you who might be up for some madness, if six mile drops another 6 inches or so.

Roman-your nuts.

Brad- I think Roman is on the brink of a relapse and another intervention is needed. However your comment “Late last night when I should have been sleeping but was counting rapids” makes me question your condition.

Lay of the boats for a bit and go skiing. We have waist deep powder down here right now.

Hey guys,

If you get bored, I recently posted a short trailer of the AK whitewater video we’re working on. Go to youtube and type in Alaska Whitewater. It should be called “New Horizon”. We should have the full, blown up edition playing at the Bears Tooth this coming summer. Cheers,

Timmy J.

According to Timmy J at

Ran first canyon last week, water was higher than hoping for (10ish), glad for some unexpected company/support. Wife was probably more glad.

Packraft 1, Kayak 0
Score evened up after the bridge where I was happy to then ride the big raft of my new friends to Canyon Creek
Short video at

This might be common knowledge and I don’t know if its “new” wood or just now exposed with lower water as the only other time I have run this was high water and I had my eyes closed :wink: but 2-3 drops after the footbridge there is a log just in a perfectly bad position in the main current on right. Its not huge, I tried to move it as I was out of the raft anyway :frowning: but I just didn’t have the muscle power. I think a group would have no problem removing it. It is fairly easily avoidable left but its not easily noticed while dealing with the drops right before it. Then almost immediately after that there is another log overseeing the main current on the right. One should be able to easily go under it, but it can be as I chose to half portaged to the left. Its right where a very large rock splits the current that does not want to be split and it just seemed like a wise idea to not deal with those two things at once.
Other than that, a sunny October day and 8.89 on the gauge equated to one very fun time. One day I’ll make it through the entire first canyon upright.

I believe this wood is river right, just after “The Slot”. Easily avoidable to river left. The other one is on the river right side of “Sheet Metal Drop”. You can go under the log in a packraft. We had 3/6 swim the first canyon. “Wall Slammer” after “The Waterfall” is just that, watch out!

Its a bit long, but had to get everyone camera time…here’s a 4 Oct run of all 3 canyons at 8.8 ft:

Six Mile’s Canyon 2 and 3 are SUPER fun right now. As low as I have ever run them – Ship Ck-like, really.

It’s all clear of ice bridges in those two canyons (we didn’t run the first one) but there are TWO pieces of WOOD about 30 yds down from Merry Go Round.

Three packrafts (all with thigh straps) and three kayaks ran it today, April 25, and had enough fun that nest week we’ll be back.

Water’s up – not super fun anymore…usually below 9 feet is fun. 9.5-10 feet is challenging. Have yet to packrafted it above 10 feet.

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