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PostPosted: October 1st, 2013, 7:37 am 
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I am looking for a canoe trip in Yukon or Alaska. Some of the features I want are hikeable mountains along river, remote (no boats, few people, fantastic scenery), road accessible (or boat accesssible ), easy whitewater or able to be portaged. I am a canoe guide in Northwestern Ontario, don't mind hard carries. Will be taking my family who are all excellent paddlers, ages 10-18, with experience in remote canoe tripping. Considering Big Salmon, but frankly seems a bit tame and over used. Any other options or ideas? Am not interested in the Yukon river, prefer small rivers and systems with lots of portaging to weed boats and people. We will be in Yukon and Alaska in August and September. Thanks in advance.

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2013, 12:10 pm 
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Joined: January 11th, 2005, 4:58 pm
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Location: Manitoba
Look into the noatak river. I'm not sure about access but otherwise it may fit your bill.

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2013, 2:42 pm 
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Location: Canmore AB
AC Other than the fly-in portion. the Wind, Snake and Bonnet Plume (Listed in order of difficulty) would fit.
All of them offer proximity to Alpine where hiking is supreme. You can either fly out from Taco Bar($) or paddle all the way down to Fort MacPherson once you reach the Peel River. Lots of trip reports available for details.
Portages in this neck of the woods are moot. The rivers are all gradient where stick handling, water reading and a solid back ferry is required.

Don't discount the Yukon R. It is an historic river. The lower portion (Carmacks - Dawson)is still used as a highway for Placer gold mining. Paddling into Dawson City is my all time best trip memory.
The upper section of Lake Labarge and 30 mile are classic trips in themselves.

It's large, flows quickly 10+kph, wide and beautiful. Lots of exploring potential for kids.
Hugh

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PostPosted: October 1st, 2013, 2:53 pm 
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Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
The Big Salmon overused? Its got some formidable log jams from what I hear. If you want to experience the Yukon and Alaska genuinely, people are part of the package. The area is rich in human history.

You won't be overrun by hordes of tourists. We saw ten people paddling..on our voyage down the Yukon last year.

The Snake is fantastic for hiking but a tad above the Wind in difficulty. The Snake has a couple of genuine Class 3 plus rapids where the rapids go on a bit( yes you can portage..not easily). You do start out with a 2km portage over the tundra.


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PostPosted: October 13th, 2013, 12:57 am 
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Location: seattle, Washington USA
AC, I've done a number of trips in the Yukon. As others have said, the rivers of the Peel drainage are hard to beat. However, what would you consider easy whitewater? Maximum Class 2? I usually rate remote rivers a grade above. As well, even the easy rivers are sometimes a grade up in difficulty depending on water levels. Kim was lucky to have seen so few people on the Yukon. We saw twenty on the Big Salmon in August-Septmber this year, 15 Germans, 1 Japanese and a variety of other europeans, including GM Dawson's great great nephew.

One question is what you meant by road or boat accessible. Except for a few of the bigger rivers(Yukon, Teslin, Pelly and a couple of others) you will find that most are fly in. This includes all the rivers of the Peel, except for the Blackstone and Ogilvie. There are some that are boat accessible like the Nahanni the hard way, or up the Rat, but they are long arduous trips. How many days do you want to be out? The Blackstone-Ogilvie is one option that you can drive to and has good hiking and easy white water(class 2) When you reach the confluence with the Ogilvie, it is about four days of tracking back to the Dempster.

If you have not been to the YT before, it is a great experience, but far different from Ontario. The water is often very cold, and by September in places like the Peel, you will have snow.

Kim, the Big Salmon is quite heavily traveled as it is road accessible for the put in at Quiet Lake. The upper river does have one log jam, about at most, a 200 meter portage which can be shortened by paddling right up to the jam. It also has, as of this year, three logs that block the river completely and are lift overs. What it does have is some tight corners and lots of sweepers. We ran into two groups this year who hit sweepers and swam. There are some hikes, but it is not as open as the Peel.


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PostPosted: October 16th, 2013, 7:30 pm 
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Looking into the Blackstone. Looks very promising. Wondering if it would be feasible to carry along a small outboard and make a catamaran for the trip up the Ogilvie or if it is to shallow or current to strong?

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PostPosted: October 16th, 2013, 8:22 pm 
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AC, I would spell that, "disaster". Teach your kids about the real paddlers, the voyageurs where upstream was just part of the slog. Bear in mind that while there are many fine routes in Ontario, the weather is often warm, and even the water. The Yukon is much further north. There is a possibility of flying out of the Ogilvie if you wimp out, but you'll have a couple of Class 3s to get around, line, wade, run. The tracking upstream can be very shallow and I advise making bridles or attaching lines low on the boats. Even though the road looks freakishly close, don't even think about going overland. At least one group I know of tried that, and I don't know if there are garage sale canoes there yet. I though I heard someone got the boats out finally. If you want advice on gear, I'd be happy to help. Sandals are often used in your neck of the woods, and while I carry them for some trips up north, I usually paddle in knee high boots. If I expect to be in the water a lot, I'll wear the bottoms of a two piece dry suit and a spray top or the dry suit top, and neoprene booties. It is hard to be in an out of ice cold water for 6-8 hours. You can track back up the Ogilvie in a couple of long days, three or four if you're moving slow. Have your ferries down pat, and have the bows ready to jump out and grab the boat. It is mostly a gravel bar slog, though there are some brushy areas that aren't too pleasant where you'll be wading in knee deep water. Poling would be an option, but I'm not skilled enough to make that kind of progress.

Oh and the Noatak was mentioned earlier. You're going to fly and out of that one. Swan Lake route in the Kenai,(I think that's the name) is a drive in car shuttle route through many lakes and a bit of river. Not really any hiking on that one, at least not like the rivers of the Peel.


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PostPosted: October 17th, 2013, 8:31 am 
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Just to set the record straight I live in far north/western Ontario, in a remote fly in reserve (Poplar Hill). Never paddled in places like Algonquin etc. Portages in this next of the wood are nonexistent or completely overgrown from lack of use. What I am looking forward to about Alaska/Yukon is the mountains. Lots of rocky rugged hills around here but no true mountains. I have paddled the North Shore of Superior Rivers (Dog (University), White, Steel) when I lived where there were roads, and wonder how the rivers up North compare. Most portages on them were land and leap type.
My brother has paddled in the Swan lake area but he said it is buggy, flat, and lots of muskeg. I am mainly looking for a mountain river with incredible scenery and hiking. My wife is not into whitewater and extreme physical fitness so I have to take that into account as well. That said she is a good paddler and gamely follows me all over in the bush in the summer, just not an adrenalin junky.

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PostPosted: October 17th, 2013, 9:40 am 
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Location: Rattlesnake Pond ME
The mountain rivers of the Yukon in the Peel wateshed all have whitewater.

The Wind might have the least and yet have the rugged mountain scenery you seek. But it is fly in and shuttle out at best! I did the Snake and it does have some real rapids and big waves.

The Yukon is a gentleish but fast moving water. The mountains are lower and more rounded. There still is incredible scenery and hiking.

Starting to repeat myself but you have too many "needs" that you need fulfilled.


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PostPosted: October 17th, 2013, 10:17 am 
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Location: seattle, Washington USA
I think we are both repeating ourselves, Kim. To recap: Drive in/drive out trips are very rare for Yukon rivers. There just aren't many roads and you can name them on both hands. AC, you want hiking and mountains, but limited white water. Mountains make whitewater so if you want one, you'll get the other. The Blackstone is very similar to the Wind in difficulty, fast, sweepers, gravel bar riffles. It is a drive in/drive out.

The Big Salmon does have some possible hikes, some requiring a bushwhack. The Spatsizi is a drive in/portage with easier rapids to Class 3, but most of it is easier. There is excellent hiking access requires a 5k portage which isn't bad if you take your time. Very neat area.

The Dease also comes to mind, as there is enough easy ww to keep you on you toes(up to 3 at the end) and some great possible hikes. Not wilderness, you will see cabins, and a bit of the road at the beginning, but it is very historic and always crawling with wildlife. Lots of bear and moose.

The Beaver Stewart route is one I have not done yet. You can drive to McQuesten Lake, then cross the HOL and down Scougale Creek to the Beaver and then the Stewart.

However, aside from these few, you will be flying for either a put in or take out.


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PostPosted: October 17th, 2013, 2:11 pm 
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I've paddled the length of Lake Laberge four times during Yukon River races. The mountain elevation on the eastern side almost shouts out for me to hike it. It is extremely gorgeous country and appears to be well suited for multi-day hikes from anywhere along the lake shore. Since I was racing I did not stop to enjoy what that particular area offers, but I did do a day hike of similar terrain east of Whitehorse. It only confirmed my strong need to go back to hike the terrain around Laberge. If I ever get out of race mode one of these years, that is my plan.


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PostPosted: October 17th, 2013, 2:30 pm 
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Location: seattle, Washington USA
AC, on some Yukon rivers there are portages that are established. The Pelly has one on Hoole Canyon. Many portages are not maintained, and if the river is rarely done, or most people run, you may have to do some cutting on your own. Lots of blowdown and brush on some. including carries through old brule. As nessmuk says, there is hiking to be had in many places. I did some on the Big Salmon, and could have done more. I will add that on some river sections(Peel Canyon) portages are not possible. On Many rivers a spray deck is recommended. I have used decks and gone without. They are a benefit when paddling long stretches of standing waves with few places to eddy out.


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PostPosted: October 17th, 2013, 7:59 pm 
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I am considering making sectional take apart canoes to keep the possibility of flying cheaper. However I am not a big fan of technology or complicated things in the bush. Always seems to break down when you need it the most.My motto is keep it simple stupid. Will amen the comment on spray skirts. 15 years ago I saw my canoe being bashed and trashed in a mountain river due to no spray skirt. Just kept taking on water and no eddies to be found. When we finally popped into a micro eddy simply couldn't hold onto the 500 lbs canoe. The canoe still has the scars from that mishap and I have a healthy respect for the power of moving water. Also have considered buying a raft or two but as a hard shell paddler inflatable things make me nervous. Where is the Spatsizi? Only thing I found was in BC Might look it up on google earth as well. I ordered a book of Yukon canoe trips that should be coming soon and have been doing a bunch of internet searching especially on myccr.
One more question about the blackstone, how much traffic is on the Dempster Highway? Is it enough that hitchhiking back to my vehicle is an option? Or don't people pick up hitchhikers up there.

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PostPosted: October 17th, 2013, 8:06 pm 
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Location: Oshawa
There are a few paddlers on the online community who live in the Yukon...would be nice to hear their suggestions.

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PostPosted: October 17th, 2013, 10:41 pm 
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Location: seattle, Washington USA
AC, sectional canoes won't make flying any easier or cheaper. It sounds like you have not had much experience flying with boats. A sectional will not fit through the doors of a single Otter. The normal way is to have two canoes nest. I can get three canoes, with two nesting onto the floats of a single Otter, along with six people inside. A Beaver can handle two boats. The Otter will have to be a turbo one for that weight. Rafts are just not really an option given the portages and the fact that you may encounter winds in the slower sections. Folding boats, such as an Ally or Pak are good ideas. They are cheap to fly, but are slow on the flat sections. And on some rivers, they wouldn't be a good choice(rocky, shapely).

The Spatsizi is in NW BC. Great river, feeds into the Stikine. Hitching on the Dempster shouldn't be a problem, if you are willing to wait for a bit. There is a maintenance compound south of the Ogilvie crossing where you could leave a vehicle. People pu high hikers all the time.


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