South Fork of Eagle River

The south side of the Alaska Range, the Talkeetnas, the Chugach mountains, the Kenai Peninsula and the Wrangells
pgonski
Posts: 13
Joined: Tue Aug 02, 2011 9:50 am

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by pgonski » Thu Jun 28, 2012 9:30 am

note; the story above, where they got away with their life was NOT on SOUTH FORK it was on EAGLE RIVER campground rapid......

Alaska Kayak Academy runs a 2 day class that will teach you how to avoid that type of trouble and if you do, what to do.

most river accidents do not have AFD or blackhawk access, you are on your own......learn what to do...or paddle with people who do.

Hiland Hillbilly
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Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:57 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Hiland Hillbilly » Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:51 pm

Having ran the South Fork since 1985 I can say I never tire of an evening run. After the Red Driveway Bridge which we call Crew Cut you round the corner and there is a great right side eddy to gather your whits. you peel out of this into Anticipation Avenue. The Wooden Bridge at the higher level ran out of eddies quickly, but at tonight's level had plenty of room to stop. A fun section of dodging holes and shallows you see a big red stump of a tree on the right side and need to eddy up left. Do want to say that the tree Brad & I talked about near the entrance of Backstreet Alley is a bigger hazard. Tuesday there was enough water running over the right end of the tree that has been trimmed. It has dropped enough that the butt end is sticking out and we barely had enough water to get over it. Definitely needs the end sawed off. I would recommend getting out before the corner and making sure there is enough room to squeeze thru. Twist and Shout was fun. Usually a right side squeeze after the big left side eddy is the route, but it is in trees now. Better to hit the left side and then paddle quickly right side to avoid the big rock on river left. Aftera few corners its good to take a break at the big left side eddy after a sweeping right corner. This will allow you thru Butt Boat Bone Yard. The big wall on the left stacks up the water thru a steep section of rocks that is deceivingly more shallow than it appears. A few corners send you thru Main Street where it is swift and fun riding the haystacks and doding the holes. Don't let this fool you because a few turns after that there is a must make right side eddy above Moon Walk Bridge. The river as it comes around the left bending corner wants to push you right, but try and stay left so you can turn sideways and punch the eddy hole behind the tree that makrs the top of Salvation Eddy. Have watched two guys in three days almost slip backwards under Moon Walk. Don't take this lightly. Past Moon Walk the island ahead must be run thru Left Side Swirly as Right Side Swirly is still jammed. Fun run thru the culvert and another evening of Hiland Happiness was had. DO NOT TAKE THE TREE ABOVE BACKSTREET ALLEY OR SALVATION EDDY LIGHTLY.

Hiland Hillbilly
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Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:57 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Hiland Hillbilly » Sun Jul 01, 2012 7:52 pm

Ran the lower section of South Fork this afternoon. Wanted to see how clean it was. Until the last mile the run was a blast. After that there were three sections that demand attention. The beautiful house at river level on the sweeping left hand corner after the sweeping right hand corner means to get out. After the house the river funnels into a very narrow shoot and their are two river wide logs across this section with no eddies to stop at. The first is at river level and probably can't be gone under and is too high to go over. The second is eighteen inches off the river and to close with limbs too go under. We eddied out on river left and portaged this section. A ways down after this is a steep drop on a hard left hand turn. There is a river wide log that has the potential to trap someone deep, as it is on the prespice of a drop such that the water drops down as much as forward. Not far from here, just prior to seeing the road is another river wide log that needs to be portaged. The first one is easy to portage around if one know it is there, the second is hard to see as one approaches, the third one can stop prior to. Would suggest that until this section is cleared out that anyone running it should take out above the house on the river and hike out on the left side of the river.

Gitzoak
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:32 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Gitzoak » Mon Jul 02, 2012 3:43 pm

Agree with HH above, with amplification. The hard left before the road on the lower section makes it difficult to see the log until your upon it. Its best to pull out 300-meters before the bridge and scout carefully. If you wait until you see the log its too late as there are no eddies. Scouting on river left is decent. The river at this point is a torrent (at high water) and the gradient is increasing. On the middle section of South Fork a good place to be attentive is approaching Moon Walk Bridge as HH explains. You want to be river left and oriented at 45-degrees to give you the angle to get to Salvation Eddy. If you miss it bail immediately as hitting Moon Walk Bridge at face level is not recommended. With that said, South Fork this past week has been crazy fun! Enjoy with caution.

Bedstvie
Posts: 5
Joined: Tue Jun 26, 2012 9:30 am

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Bedstvie » Sun Aug 05, 2012 7:25 pm

Ran upper and middle South Fork this evening...great fun! Ship Creek was reading 5.3. Good amount of water, and plenty of places to pull out for avoiding the obstacles. We eddied out on the outside of the right turn after the red bridge to catch our breath. The gentleman who owns the property was not appreciative of our presence on his property, and told us so in no uncertain terms. So, if you have an aversion to trespassing, avoid getting out of the water there.
Last edited by Bedstvie on Sun Dec 28, 2014 6:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

bradmeiklejohn
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 3:16 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by bradmeiklejohn » Sun Oct 07, 2012 8:19 pm

Roman, Toby and I went for a ride on the mighty South Fork on October 6, 2012. I had not been down since June and found that the September 2012 flood had rearranged things considerably.

The first new obstacle appears about 1/2 mile below the trail footbridge at an abrupt right-hand turn. There are two channels here, with most of the flow going into the left channel. The left channel now has a riverwide strainer. The right channel is clean but the turn is blind and can be hard to make for novice boaters.

Below the red driveway bridge things get really interesting. The large log that has resided in the creek for several years has migrated downstream, and we were curious to see where it ended up. The first footbridge was dismantled by the flood but a log wedged in the right side of the run. The left side of the run is free of wood but full of large boulders. Expect hemorhoids here.

We knew all that wood was going to show up somewhere downstream but did not find the big log that was near the entrance to Backstreet Alley earlier this summer. We cleared the Three Stooges and eddied out left just above Twist and Shout, which follows the lefthand turn downstream of the eddy. This is a perenial blocking spot for wood, and there is a nasty riverwide tree here now, and another jutting out from the left bank. This is a mandatory portage.

Approximately 100 yards downstream we found the real carnage, a pile-up of at least ten trees that will be hard to clear without dynamite. This blockage could be here for years to come unless someone is really motivated with chainsaw, come-along and many hours of heaving and hauling.

The Moonwalk bridge is also gone now, piled up just downstream at the island that divides Left and Right Side Swirlies. The left channel is clear enough to eek through, and the right might also be passable but there are more obstacles there.

We took out at the first road bridge culvert and will leave it to someone else to scout the lower run, which I suspect has its own share of new and rearranged wood.

This confirms my long-held view that the Southfork is a dirty and dangerous little creek. We found pieces of planking with large spikes along the run, which made me think that maybe the red driveway bridge, which now has a new plank deck, might have blown apart in the flood. There be dragons here.

bradmeiklejohn
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Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 3:16 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by bradmeiklejohn » Wed Jun 05, 2013 4:33 pm

For the curious, the South Fork of Eagle River is running, although now it is a bit too low after the initial run-off pulse. On June 5, 2013 I ran from the typical alpine put-in to the red driveway bridge without encountering any new wood. It was passable, but a bit too low to be enjoyable.

AKBeardedThug
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Joined: Tue Oct 11, 2011 2:03 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by AKBeardedThug » Mon Jun 17, 2013 9:47 pm

Ran from the Red Bridge down to the culvert near the park entrance. Nice run, water at a sweet level. Shortly after Triple drop, the Butt Bumper Rock garden against the right side cliff has a river wide log that is one foot off the water. There had been a river wide log underneath that that we were able to dislodge. Just before Main Street there is a river wide damn of six or more logs. A must portage. Seems so strange to boat by the previous two bridges. The upper bridge opens up a steep drop that needs lots of water to have a chance at a left side sneak. Moon's bridge is a fun section now that you are not worrying about slamming into the bridge if you miss the right side eddy.

Gitzoak
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Joined: Fri Jun 11, 2010 9:32 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Gitzoak » Wed Jun 19, 2013 9:59 pm

South Fork is a wild ride at current level. Water up at least a foot from week ago. Triple Drop now has 4 drops, 2nd one less than last year. 4th drop a bit tricky. Some good size holes below this point. Our put in @red bridge. Two wood related must portages before going under road.

bradmeiklejohn
Posts: 136
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 3:16 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by bradmeiklejohn » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:13 am

On a July 1 run on the South Fork, we encountered two must-portage wood spots in the segment from the red driveway bridge to the upper culvert and seven must-portage wood spots in the segment between the two road culverts.

Live to Rally
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Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:31 am

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Live to Rally » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:21 am

I ran SoFo (7/1) from as far up as possible in the alpine - with the moraine near the lakes well in sight. Ship Creek guage was 5.58. My first time on the creek. Seemed to be flowing good but still quite bumpy and bouldery. I swam a couple times in the middle section. Took out after the South Creek Rd culvert thinking the lower section was the most difficult, but apparently I had already made it through the spiciest section (likely in the boulder drops where I swam) according to the initial SoFo report on this forum. With a reported seven portages in the lower section, I don't regret missing out now.

There was at least one sweeper and one logjam that were questionable (must portages for me) in the middle of the middle section, if I remember correctly. It all seems manageable if you're paying attention and aren't uncomfortable swimming, as I'm a noob and (perhaps stupidly) did it solo.

Brad, since you run it a lot and did so yesterday, was it running relatively high, low, or moderate?

Gerhardt
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Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:44 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Gerhardt » Mon Jul 15, 2013 7:09 am

Yeah probably wasn't a good idea to do that middle section solo, those two log jams are pretty bad and must be portaged. Almost same with the boulder garden if the water level is low.

Russell Biggs
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Joined: Mon Aug 30, 2010 11:06 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Russell Biggs » Mon Jul 22, 2013 7:04 am

I would love to do this river with someone who done it before - 907 727-1665.

Live to Rally
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Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:31 am

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Live to Rally » Fri Aug 23, 2013 10:14 am

Ran SoFo upper and middle sections Thursday and Friday evenings. Ship gauge at ~5.2' Thurs and ~5.25' Fri. Far more forgiving at these levels then when I ran it in the heat of early summer meltdown when Ship gauge was at about ~5.6', but the lines aren't as clean (more exposed to only slightly submerged rocks).

I portage the trail bridge. Other than that, there are three portages all in the middle section in this order: the red driveway bridge (not long after entering the forest), a nasty log sweeper shortly after the triple drop at a sharp left turn, and an impassable logjam shortly before the South Creek Rd culvert. The lower section appears to be a significant step up in mankiness with a lot more wood in the water.

RomanDial
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Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:13 am

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by RomanDial » Mon Sep 09, 2013 12:12 am

The APU packrafting class put in right below the straining, lower moraine at Eagle Lake on Wednesday, Sept 4 when Ship was running at 5.8. One of the party of 12 even ran the first drop out of Eagle lake into the little pond below, then portaged the straining moraine and continued.

Super fun amusement park ride. Not many eddies above the usual put-in for the "upper SoFo" (i.e. below the short hanging valley on the south side of the creek) but as a couple others noted later in an email, Since the upper section was above tree line, we felt reassured that there would be no strainers. And the narrow channel eliminated most decision-making."

Took out at the trail bridge as the next section is a little too spicy -- and especially woody -- at that level for beginners, but the upper section (above the foot bridge and below the moraine at the Lake) with high flow is hard to beat -- safe and straightforward with plenty of action.

Not sure if there is a better beginner whitewater run in Anchorage. Plenty of smiles on all the ten APU student faces, and only two swims.

RELspot
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Mar 19, 2013 8:18 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by RELspot » Sun Oct 13, 2013 3:34 pm

I know its short notice, but if anyone is up for hiking up to run the upper and middle sections tomorrow (10/13) we will be heading out from anchorage around 9am.
Could meet there or pick you up on the way.
-A

Gerhardt
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Jul 27, 2012 2:44 pm

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Gerhardt » Mon Jun 16, 2014 7:09 pm

Has anybody been on middle section this year? Or is south fork even doable right now?

Live to Rally
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Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:31 am

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Live to Rally » Thu Jun 26, 2014 9:50 pm

Floated the upper and middle sections this evening (6/26/14). Ship gauge at 5.88 when I left ANC, 5.85 upon return. SoFo was good from just below the rocky moraine below the lakes. The upper section is clean with no portages, just some bony areas, butt scraping, and scooting.

Middle section is pretty similar to last season; there are still three mandatory portages (see earlier posts).

The red driveway bridge is first (you can see it coming). Make a quick portage here (probably best river right and away from the home) and avoid the landowner. He's not friendly or sympathetic to paddlers.

Then, after an extended stretch and the triple drop (there are some noteworthy drops earlier but the triple drop is significantly bigger so it should be obvious when you're through it) PAY ATTENTION: at a sharp left turn shortly after the triple drop there's a bit of orange flagging on river left. Get out at or before that flagging, just around the blind left turn there's a nasty creek-wide, mandatory portage sweeper. It's easy to walk around on river right. This is the only mandatory portage you can't see before it's too late, so heed the warning.

Shortly after you put back in after the second, blind portage you'll see a logjam; this is the third mandatory portage. I've always gone around it river left. Taking the river left route, you can put back in right after the log jam on some boulders and push off to run a fun drop right away. From here it's a short stretch back to the South Creek Road culvert and take out for the middle section.

I've run a few hundred yards past the South Creek Road culvert (you can take out river left and a short schwack will get you to the road right around the trailhead), but I've yet to run the entire lower section due to wood and general mankiness...not worth all the portages to me.

Live to Rally
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Joined: Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:31 am

Re: South Fork of Eagle River

Post by Live to Rally » Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:30 am

Not recommended below 5.3-5.4 ship creek gauge. The run doesn't go as clean, especially the triple drop in the middle section.

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