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PostPosted: November 24th, 2009, 9:53 am 

Joined: January 22nd, 2005, 12:16 pm
Posts: 4037
Location: Toronto
Paddling the Great River

Upper Stikine River, 2009

A River Journal by Freda Mellenthin

Allan note: Freda wrote the report; I’m just posting it for her.


The coastal Tlingit nation named the Stikine The Great River, and a well-known person of the canoeing community in Ontario said to us once: "If you don't paddle the Stikine River I won't talk to you any more". So this year we summoned up enough courage to paddle the upper Stikine before we get too old for the challenges of a white-water river. Mind you, for Ted, a long-term white-water expert, such an undertaking is not as arduous as for me who only started paddling at the age of sixty-three. Both the Tlingit and our friend were right; it is a great river and deserved to be added to our already extensive list of paddling northern waterways.

July 18 to 23:

We are on our way towards the north again. This time we want to paddle the upper Stikine which flows out of the Spatsizi Plateau northeast of Prince Rupert.

After Smithers there are no significant towns any more, only native settlements such as Mauricetown, Hazelton and Kitwanga, the intersection where we turn north to continue on the Stewart-Cassiar highway. The hot weather we had in Mission is slowly giving way to cooler temperatures and the sun hides behind a blanket of clouds. Heavy dew characterizes the morning hours, and the mosquitoes are beginning to bug us. The day before our flight into the mountains we arrive at Tatogga Lodge, 1672 km from Mission. We meet the new owner of the lodge, Tina, try her great food and enjoy her hospitality. She lets us park our little camper truck for free during the time we'll spend on the Stikine River. The mosquitoes are quite aggressive, predicting a change of weather.

The next morning it rains a bit off and on. This is the big day: our flight to Tuaton Lake high up on the Spatsizi Plateau. Our tension is mounting. Will the float plane from Alpine Air and its pilot Wendel Imhof come as prearranged? At 11 am we walk up to the lodge for a tea and a bite to eat. Tina greets us with the message: "Go back quickly, Alpine Air will be landing in fifteen minutes." A last-minute check of my lists, and then we carry all our gear down to the dock and wait. The sky is dark gray and does not look too friendly. Suddenly we hear a motor noise above and soon after the yellow turbine Otter circles around the lake and reaches the dock moments later. Three men and a dog disembark, the pilot Wendel, an outfitter by the name of Ray and his dog, plus a friend. We load everything quickly, Wendel ties our canoe to the pontoon, and off we go.

Below us a fantastic mountain world unfolds, green valleys, meadows dotted with patches of snow, creeks, lakes in hues of turquoise and ultramarine, and cascading rivers, a grandiose panorama of untouched wilderness. Ray, sitting behind me knows these mountains like his pocket and points out the various rivers and valleys. After a thirty minute flight we land on Tuaton Lake at an altitude of 1270 metres. We unload and Ray offers us to stay in his mountain cabin while he continues to fly to his guest lodge on Laslui Lake. What a nice northern gesture!

After throwing our gear loosely into the canoe we paddle along the lake until we see a trail. This must lead to Ray's cabin, which is not visible from the shore. We follow the path up a hill through a flowering meadow overgrown with forget-me-nots, lupine and columbines. There is the cabin, nestled between two hills and beckoning to us. It is starting to rain lightly and we are grateful to have found a shelter here. Now we don't have to put up our tent and get our camping gear wet. A small animal has made a mess inside and has scattered flour and oat flakes on the shelves and the floor. The rafters are covered with a semi-transparent tarp that lets enough light penetrate to make the interior bright and friendly. Of course there is no electricity or running water. I clean up the animal traces while Ted makes a fire in the wood stove. Then we cook a lunch on the propane-fed hotplate while the rain is pelting on the roof. Through the open door we have a great view of the lake, the meadows and the mountain panorama. It is great to be in a cabin instead of being hunched up in our small tent during such inclement weather. All evening we sit around the table and play checkers and mill. Ted wins every game.

Friday, July 24:

During the night the sound of rain on the roof woke me up from time to time. But in the morning the sun was out again and the alpine meadows looked fresh and pristine. The absolute silence and freshness of the wilderness was very soothing, no people, no motor noises, just nature as it was created eons of years ago. We hung around, just relaxing. I swept the outhouse and climbed the small hills that form a protecting wall around the cabin. After lunch Ted suggested to paddle around the lake.

When we were ready to go the sky had clouded over. A wind started up as we paddled towards the opening where the Stikine River, coming from Happy Lake higher in the mountains, enters Tuaton Lake. We disturbed a family of ptarmigans as we landed on the marshy shore. A couple of arctic terns circled anxiously over our heads while Ted put out his fishing rod and soon pulled in a lovely trout. Then we continued towards the campsite on the opposite side of the lake where the park rangers have designated a wilderness campsite for hikers and canoeists. It looked clean and unspoiled except for the obligatory instruction poster about correct wilderness behavior. The sky looked moody as we continued around the lake. In a very large and sheltered bay we found the broken boards of a shattered boat and a motor half buried underneath. What was the story behind this mishap? - We paddled quickly around the rest of the lake past verdant meadows stretching towards the mountains. The sky started looking ever more menacing, and we just made it back to the cabin when it began to rain heavily. Protected from wind and rain, in front of the warm stove we celebrated our famous "happy hour", drinking hot tea laced with honey and a shot of vodka.

Saturday, July 25:

We woke up to a sunny morning and decided to go on a day hike. When everything was packed and we had started walking, it was already 10:30 and getting hot. We should have started at seven. Our goal was Tuaton Mountain, which has a vertical drop of almost 500 m. The first two hours we spent on heavy bushwhacking through old growth forest and six feet high cottonwood shrubs. Walking was very hard, since the shrubs were widely spread out on the ground, often covering deep swamp holes. We had to lift our legs high at every step to trample the branches down. The temperature was rising and the mosquitoes were getting merciless. Finally leaving the bush behind us, we crossed a large meadow before we started the steep ascent. The blossoms of mountain aven, campanula, blue bells, larkspur, Jacobs ladder and cow parsnip filled the air with a fragrance of wild honey. This was grizzly country, but surprisingly we did not see any bears, although twice we came upon a large empty lair of flattened grass. Obviously the animal was already out to get his day's fill of food.

To get to the top of Tuaton Mountain, we had to overcome 477 m of almost vertical slope. First we climbed through large patches of dwarfed spruce until we reached the steep mountain meadows. Our supply of liquid was getting low. Drenched in sweat we were out of breath and ready to quit. I had to coax Ted to make it just to the next little bench, and after resting there, just to the next level above. Then, sitting on a small platform with our feet stemmed against a crippled shrub to avoid sliding down the face of the mountain, we ate our sandwich and admired the green valley below us. To the left were some smaller lakes that would eventually become the Stikine River, and on the other side of Tuaton Lake the mountain ranges of the Spatsizi Plareau stood majestically. Resisting the temptation to abandon our climb right here, we slowly crawled up the steep mountain face, encouraging each other. Resting often to catch our breath, we finally made it up to the saddle. Now we could also see into the valley behind us. To the top of Tuaton peak it was probably only a walk of 100 m through a snow field, but we decided to stay on the saddle, to rest and admire the incredible scenery and conserve some energy. The view from here was the same anyway.

The descent was extremely strenuous. We had to avoid going down the steep grassy mountain face for fear of sliding, side-stepping from shrub to shrub, hanging on to the brittle branches of cottonwood and stunted spruce. Then, hoping to by-pass the dense bush in the valley, we made a detour through a swampy meadow, but in the end we still had to walk through deep bush, again lifting our legs high over the creeping branches at every step. It was hard to find the cabin because it is very cleverly hidden between some hills. Sweat was pouring down our faces and we were totally exhausted. After all, a seven hour hike is no easy feat for people in their seventies!

After supper when I was sitting on the door step, enjoying my tea, suddenly a pain shot through one of my legs and spread right to my toes. I hardly made it back into the cabin and to my mattress. It went from bad to worse and I could not help moaning and groaning with excruciating cramps in both my legs. Ted had never seen me like this and first suspected that I was faking it. Then I thought of the Ibuprofen in our first-aid kit and took some. I also remembered that on a hike long ago someone gave me Tums (which is calcium) when my knee had hurt. So I took some of my regular calcium/magnesium pills instead. The medication slowly eased the pain and I had a good night's sleep. Later on I learned that I must have suffered from an acute deficiency of minerals due to the amount of perspiration my body had released during the hike. Despite this experience we had a great and unforgettable day!

Sunday, July 26:

Another sunny day! The spasm in my legs had not come back. I only had developed a slight normal muscle ache in my thighs. It was time to leave this peaceful retreat behind us and start paddling the Stikine River, lest we become so complacent and at home in this mountain setting, that we don't want to pursue our original goal any more. I felt a bit apprehensive because now the white water paddling I had not done for a whole year would begin. The upper Stikine runs through miles of class one and class two rapids and has an average gradient of 2.6 meters per kilometer with some drops as steep as 5.7 meters. What will the water levels be like? Will I, the perpetual white-water novice be able to perform well enough? I kept these worries to myself because I did not want to upset Ted.

We were ready to leave after lunch. Quietly our canoe glided through the tranquil water towards the exit of the lake where the Stikine begins. The snow-patched mountains reflected in the water, and the only noise was the fluttering of some startled terns above our heads. The river was slow at first, with islands here and there, and large swampy meadows stretching from the lake to the mountains. In a river bend a large male Osborn caribou with big antlers looked at us. Later we surprised a moose, feeding in the shallow waters of the shore. The Stikine is wide here, almost lake-like without much flow. A bit further down a second moose, feeding on water plants watched us as we came closer and closer. He twitched his ears and stared, not believing his eyes at seeing this silent object approaching. Finally he trotted off into the cottonwood shrubs.

When we entered Laslui Lake, we startled moose, a cow and her calf, who ran off quickly to disappear behind the curtain of willow shrubs. This lake is as picturesque as Tuaton Lake, but the surrounding mountains are not quite as high. On the right shore Ray is operating his hunting and fishing lodge. We dropped in to find his son-in-law there who invited us for tea and muffins. Some men were making last-minute touch-ups before the first hunters would arrive. The lodge is quite elegant and decorated with great taste, natural wood, hunting trophies and lamps made of moose antlers. Willi told us that Fountain Rapid at the end of Laslui Lake is definitely not canoeable, but is a portage must, as there is a waterfall in it. I was happy to hear that. At least my nerves could rest one more day! When we continued down the lake, a motorboat followed us. It was Willi who brought us Ted's forgotten hat.

It was only three km from the end of Latsui Lake to the rapids. A big yellow sign on the right side warned paddlers to get out and start portaging. So we landed and set out on the grueling 1.6 km portage trail with the first heavy load. The trail through old growth forest was not too bad and even had a sort of rack half ways on which we could rest our load. At the end of the portage two people, David and Lori, and their dog greeted us. They were experienced white-water paddlers from Nelson where they practice Chinese medicine. The mosquitoes were very active, and even the dog, a chow chow-cross, wore a head net. David offered Ted to help carry our canoe tomorrow morning, which was a great relief, since Ted is always afraid that he could damage his back by lifting the boat. We fetched one more load this evening, and when we came back Lori offered us half of their supper, since she had cooked too much. So all we had to do was put up our tent and look forward to the first camping night.

Monday, July 27:

This morning David and Ted carried our canoe over the portage trail. Then we walked close to the river to take a good look at the many ledges and cascades. At noon we were all packed and ready to leave. It was sunny and warm. However, the beauty of this section partially eluded me, for the water was very fast, demanding my full attention. At a gradient of 4.3 meters per kilometer it was hard to avoid all the rocks and boulders and find the best route through the obstacles. As bow paddler I am supposed to see every rock ahead and maneuver the canoe around it. In reality I have not enough experience to read the water properly. Some boulders were almost covered with water and hard to see. We moved very fast, leaving David and Lori far behind us because they had to slow down for their dog who preferred to stand up in the middle of the spray deck. Once I got hung up on a rock, which can easily lead to tipping, but we made it down again upright and in one piece. Dumping in this water would not be so bad for the swimmer because the Stikine is still narrow here and one would not have to go too far to the shore. But the canoe could break easily and you would be stranded for good.

After ten km of fun-filled, yet nerve-wrecking paddling, we landed on river left in front of a yellow warning sign Chapea Rapid, get out here!. David and Lori arrived shortly afterwards. We started scouting the rapid which has class two, three and four sections and seven ledges. The portage trail is long and very rough. There is a swamp and even a creek to cross, which is very hard when you carry a full load. Ted decided to run the rapid and convinced David to run it with him. So the two men set out in David's canoe while Lori and I walked to the take-out point. They made it through without trouble, then walked back and also paddled our canoe safely through the rapid, Ted in the stern, excited and re-living his prime canoeing days. It was good that David and Lori were there, otherwise I would have been the bow person. The two stayed behind to camp soon, whereas Ted and I continued through miles of white water. For a while the Stikine flows through a steep-sided canyon of granite. From the top the river looked like one big white foamy surface and I thought that we'll never make it through. However when we came closer it revealed the lines of dark water and escape routes around the boulders and holes. For a while Ted expected me to make my own decisions to find my way through the obstacles, which was not realistic. Twice we hit a rock I had not seen on time and Ted was so worried that he screamed at me and I shed some secret tears. We passed a broken canoe washed on to shore, something that could happen to us too .... Finally we left the last tight rapid behind us and the Stikine began to slow down, forming two channels around a grass-covered island. - We found a gravel spot on the side channel where camping was good. Opposite our camp across the water a spruce forest spread on a slope, and some bleached antlers peeked out of the grass under the trees.

Tuesday, July 28:

What a happy and peaceful morning! I knew that I did not have to worry about any rapids today. Yesterday's problems lay behind us and we could enjoy the peace of the nature around us. It was sunny and hot again. We crossed the channel and climbed up the shore to look at the moose antlers. They were too heavy to take along. - We paddled through a few riffles or had to avoid the odd rock or a sweeper, but we had time to admire the landscape. Lush meadows, spruce groves and fresh green shores unfolded before us. The air was filled with the perfume of fresh sap from young trees. In the background the high mountains of the Spatsizi Plateau towered over the valley. What a joy to be here and experience this pristine wilderness! Around a river bend we spotted a small log cabin perched precariously above the edge of a high undercut embankment. Once it must have been built safely away from the river, a refuge for a trapper or hunter. But the river bed changes over the years, and soon the hut will be washed away. - We passed another broken canoe in a log jam. It shows that some paddlers do have accidents on this river.

We had almost finished lunch when David and Lori appeared. After sitting a while together we continued on our way, but met again at Adoogachu Creek from where a narrow trail leads to Adoogachu Falls. The four of us set out towards the Falls, but when the path above the creek became too treacherous Ted and I turned back. It was very easy to slip and get hurt, and the Falls were not worth such a risk. Ted and I paddled on, passing many log jams until we stopped close to the Chuckacheeda River. We camped on a wide gravel bar that was probably still flooded some weeks ago. Our supper was special, since we used the last fresh vegetables to make fried potatoes with onions and fresh grayling. We also took a full bath in the warm water of the river.

Wednesday, July 29:

This morning we already left at nine, since it promised to be a very hot day. Around the first river bend we reached the mouth of the Chuckacheeda River, a major tributary of the Stikine. A bit upstream from the confluence Ted spotted a cabin, and since Ted does not want to miss anything we paddled hard against the current to pay a visit. It was a hunter's hut, perched high above the Chuckacheeda, complete with electric range and stocked with staple foods, although still quite basic. Back on the Stikine, we paddled passed many log jams and sweepers, through lush green meadows, a prime area for moose. While we had lunch there was a rumble in the air and dark clouds started to cover the sky. For hours we heard distant thundering, but the bad weather never reached us. Once we landed to investigate an old horse camp on the river. There was a food cache, poles to put up a tepee, and a fire pit. The owners of the two lodges on the upper Stikine bring in horses for their hunting guests. The wranglers lead the horses up from the Stewart-Cassiar highway and are on the trail for three to four days with a rest at Cold Fish Lake. In the afternoon we spotted two mountain sheep on a steep slope high above the water.

Around the confluence of the Spatsizi River and the Stikine there was a large forest fire six years ago which almost reached the Upper Stikine Lodge, a very rustic place. We stopped there hoping to get a good meal to supplement our somewhat monotonous river diet. Here the outfitters and their helpers were getting ready for their hunting guests. The twenty-nine horses and the freight boats only arrived yesterday. Jerry, the owner and two helpers were just digging out the old septic tank, made out of wood and now totally rotten. We were offered tea and cookies and decided to book in for the night, although there was no running water until the septic tank was fixed. Supper was delicious: moose roast with broccoli and mashed potatoes. Everybody was very friendly. The cook was a young woman from Quebec. We looked at all the log buildings while the hobbled horses with bells around their necks, walked all over the place. Joy, the old lady who ran a bed and breakfast place here for many years, said that there used to be a lot more paddlers on the Stikine. So far this summer there were only six on the river, including us.

Thursday, July 30:

After breakfast with the whole crew we were on our way again. We knew that we would have to paddle through Jewel Rapids today, but the cook of the lodge had assured us that it was not a problem, when she came up in a freight boat yesterday.

The character of the river has changed after the confluence with the murky water of the Spatsizi River. The volume has almost doubled and the Stikine has become a very fast, wide stream with tricky currents. All day long we paddled through high waves and had to look out for large boulders that were not always visible in the brown water. Three times we got completely wet and took water in the canoe, as some submerged boulders had created unpredictable side waves that took us by surprise. Since the sun was shining, the clothes dried quickly. But it was fun and not scary like the tight white water around Chapea Rapids had been. Once we got almost sucked into a hole. The bow made it through, but Ted in the stem hit on a rock. While we continued to paddle, Ted bailed out as much water as he could. - Jewel Rapids were not worthwhile worrying about. They consisted of two kilometers of widely-spaced boulders that were easy to negotiate.

At lunch time when we stopped to fish, I noticed a lot of water in the canoe and got a little suspicious. Did we damage the boat? Ted caught a nice trout, and while he cleaned it, a huge fish swam towards him and nipped his leg. When he cast his rod for the last time, he pulled in a big Dolly Varden. Mm ... - another good supper!

Between Jewel Rapids and the Pitman River, the valley widens, and the high mountains are not visible any more. There were often several channels to choose from with large islands or gravel bars between them. Below the mouth of the Pitman River a stop of interest is the Schreiber Canyon. It consists of steep-sided conglomerate walls rising up from Schreiber Creek before it enters the Stikine River. We stopped to walk up the creek and look at the canyon walls which looked quite eerie.

At four o'clock when we had turned into a side channel, Ted discovered an old campsite with a moss-covered fire pit under the trees above a sandy beach. Stopping that early was a nice thought and would have appealed to me too. However, I discovered bear tracks on the sand and was afraid that this might be a regular bear crossing. If we did not have the fish in our canoe, I would have gone for it. But as it was I suggested to continue, although Ted's disappointment makes me feel guilty to this day.

We continued down one of the channels, but made the wrong choice here. For suddenly, around a tight bend we were faced with huge waves extending form shore to shore. The only solution was to paddle straight through as fast as possible. It was a double ledge, and shooting through the towering waves and a deep hole almost knocked us over and drenched us completely. Then, searching for another campsite, we ended up in a very small shallow channel and had to get out to push the canoe. Ted was not pleased and I could not get rid of the feeling that none of this would have happened, if we had camped at that old campsite under the trees at four o'clock. At the end of this narrow channel we were able to pull up on a large gravel bar. Ted unloaded the canoe completely and examined the bottom. There were two small leaks under the flotation chamber. He fixed it with fiberglass and it will be fine now. - Most of the night it was very hot in the tent. It would be better to sleep without a tent fly.

Friday, July 31:

When we woke up this morning, we noticed fresh moose tracks close to our tent and across the whole sandbar. It is strange that we never heard the animal!

We only left at 11:00 am because Ted wanted the resin on the canoe to dry. From our campsite we could see the rapid that had kept me awake part of the night. When we paddled through its high waves I got wet from toe to waist. Staying a bit more on the left would have avoided such a cold shower. By now the Stikine has lost its serene mountain river character and has changed into a mighty, ravaging river, tearing at its shores, eroding its banks and washing trees and bushes into the current. Over the years landslides have left some mountain sides devastated and bare. Fires have destroyed large areas and dead trees are now standing among new growth.

The water was very fast today, and we paddled through high standing waves and past many log jams. The river valley is very wide, and the mountain peaks are far away. - We stopped at 3:40 pm while the sun was still high and hot, and camped on a clearing in the shade of alder shrubs above the sandy river beach. Behind our tent a small meadow in bloom filled the air with a sweet fragrance and the happy buzzing of wild bees. One of them stung me in the arm. The wind was strong all day, and in the evening it increased, sweeping down the river and whistling from time to time.

While we had "happy hour" to celebrate another successful day, Lori and David and their dog pulled in. Maybe we are going to run the infamous rapid at Beggarly Canyon together tomorrow. - In the early morning hours the howling of wolves behind us in the clearing woke us up.

Saturday, August 1:

We had sunshine, but also a strong head wind all day. Our two canoes left together, but the others had to slow down again because of their dog. We met later and had lunch together.

Soon Beggarly Canyon would come up, and we were worried about it. According to the description it can be run at lower water levels on the left side by very experienced canoeists, but is usually a required portage. The tricky part is at the canyon's entrance where Beggarly Creek comes in and creates huge waves and whirlpools. The portage trail is on river right, but since we intended to paddle the canyon, we stayed on river left close to the canyon wall to bypass the rapid. We ran it without even getting wet! The canyon is composed out of sheer rock walls and exposes beautiful small sand beaches at lower water levels. We stopped on the right shore in an eddy behind a sandbar and climbed up a steep trail to get an overview of the canyon. The portage trail leads uphill along Beggarly Creek and crosses over a suspension bridge to come down on the other side. It is a steep climb and portaging must be quite grueling, considering that you have to walk it three times with a full load of gear or a canoe on your shoulders.

We continued paddling light-hearted, since we had no more big obstacles to encounter. Three kilometers downstream from the canyon, an abandoned steel girder bridge spans the Stikine River. It was constructed a long time ago to create a rail link between Fort St. James and Dease Lake, but the project was stopped shortly after the bridge was completed. The tracks were never laid.

Just below the bridge the Klappan River, coming in on the left, adds a heavy load of silt to the Stikine River. Already for several days we could not drink the water any more. Now we had to look for small creeks to fill our water container before we camped. It was evening when we found a good campsite just above a little stream.

We knew that this was our last camp on the Stikine. Ted was moody and subdued and retreated to the creek to fish. He caught a nice trout that we saved for tomorrow when we will be off the river. During our "happy hour" Ted remarked that we should have taken more time on this trip. He reminded me of the day when he wanted to stop at four o'clock and I had pressed on because of the bear tracks. Maybe I shouldn't have been so over-cautious!

After supper we went for a walk in the bush behind our tent. It was like walking through an enchanted forest. An overgrown path ended in a lush green meadow dotted with flowering larkspur and wild gooseberry bushes full of ripe fruit. Ted was so nice to pick some for me. A small clearing was bordered by a giant fallen tree, offering its decomposing wood to create new growth. The great silence at the end of the day soothed our nerves and consoled our hearts. It was like having entered a sanctuary and receiving a blessing. - When we were back in the tent and settled for the night, Ted needed to unload his heart. He told me how sorry he was that he had put me down the day we had paddled the upper rapids. "I had to tell you this, otherwise the memory of the trip will be no fun for me", he said. I was moved to tears and could insure him from the bottom of my heart that I held no grudges against him. So our last camp became a reassurance of our close relationship, and a happy end!

Sunday, August 2:

In the morning the sky was gray, but it cleared up later. We only had a maximum of two hours to paddle before reaching the take-out point. The smell of a forest fire was in the air. It was windy, and for the first time on this trip I put on a jacket. The Stikine was very wild here. Around several bends we had to paddle through high waves and whirlpools created by large boulders that were hard to see in the brown water. Tipping here would not break the canoe, but send the paddler on a very long swim. Soon the bridge over the highway came into view. On previous trips along the highway we had stopped underneath and observed the relatively calm water, never expecting that upstream around the next bend the paddler is still confronted with high waves and tricky currents.

Several signs warned us to pull out here, for continuing would mean certain death. Not too far away the eighty kilometer long Grand Canyon starts, which constricts to a narrow gorge where even the salmon that spawn in the lower Stikine can not swim up.

Ted and I were happy and grateful to have finished this trip successfully. It had been full of adrenaline-filled fun, and the weather had been wonderful. We never needed to wear rain jackets or warm sweaters. We had plenty of fish, and we travelled through a spectacular mountain area that few people have the privilege to see. Last, but not least, we can add one more adventurous river expedition to our common memory bank that knits us closer together.

Next year we are planning to put in at Telegraph Creek below the Grand Canyon and paddle the lower Stikine to Wrangell, Alaska.

Allan note: Photos to come.


A literal mind is a little mind. If it's not worth doing to excess, it's not worth doing at all. Good enough isn't.  None are so blind as those who choose not to see. (AJ)

PostPosted: September 18th, 2013, 9:00 am 

Joined: September 14th, 2013, 5:30 am
Posts: 2
This report helped a lot. Here is an updated report on the region. ... acred.html

PostPosted: October 30th, 2023, 6:33 pm 
User avatar

Joined: June 23rd, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 3543
Location: Newmarket, Ontario Canada
link above seems to be dead. Anyone have another one?

"I've never met a river I didn't like. The challenges are what we remember, and the experiences will make great memories for when I can pick up my paddle no more". Me

PostPosted: October 31st, 2023, 1:44 pm 

Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
Posts: 2276
Location: Manitoba
jjnorm hasn't posted in a decade. You could try sending him an email or pm.

He also posted here: ... aters.html

LinkedIn indicates his name is Jeffrey Norman, from Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

His website, doesn't seem to be active anymore.



PostPosted: October 31st, 2023, 5:26 pm 
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Joined: June 23rd, 2001, 7:00 pm
Posts: 3543
Location: Newmarket, Ontario Canada
Thanks. Debating between the upper and the lower. Love the MW, but we thought this year we would like to try something different. Anyone done both and compare?

"I've never met a river I didn't like. The challenges are what we remember, and the experiences will make great memories for when I can pick up my paddle no more". Me

PostPosted: October 31st, 2023, 9:33 pm 

Joined: July 6th, 2004, 5:46 pm
Posts: 159
While I have not paddled the upper and lower Stikine, I have paddled the upper Stikine
and the Tatshenshini/Alsek to the pacific which from my understanding has some
similarities to the lower Stikine. They are both large rivers flowing into the pacific,
with the Tat/Alsek just north of the Stikine.

The Tat/Alsek (lower Stikine from what I've heard) is largish and strong eddy lines and biggish water (a bit tricky)
- coastal range mountains are a bit distant for access. The upper Stikine has small lakes and
the river is small until it hits the Spatsizi and keeps growing. The hiking in the alpine is great and accessible on the upper Stikine. The Tat/Alsek scenery is quite dramatic /glaciated. The further from the coast, the weather is a bit better.

I found the paddling on the upper Stikine more interesting/enjoyable than the Tat/Alsek. That's all i got!

PostPosted: November 1st, 2023, 8:27 pm 
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Joined: January 3rd, 2010, 5:59 pm
Posts: 258
Location: Kanata
Hi Cheryl,
I've been down the Tat and the lower Stikine. I much prefer the Tat over the lower Stikine - better scenery, bigger mountains, generally more wildlife sightings. If you are hoping to go hiking - both rivers offer few great hiking opportunities. The forests are very dense and on the lower Stikine you are mostly stuck hiking where there is a trail. I'd say the Tat has better hiking than Lower Stikine. The lower Stikine is mostly a float, with very few rapids to speak of. The river moves along at a very quick pace though, so unless you encounter a strong head wind, the paddling is pretty relaxed.
I know you aren't considering the Tat, which is good as I wouldn't call it a canoeing river. But if I was going to travel all the way out there - I think if you have the skills, the upper Stikine would be my choice over the lower section of the river.


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