Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

The south side of the Alaska Range, the Talkeetnas, the Chugach mountains, the Kenai Peninsula and the Wrangells
Post Reply
ChugachPeaks

Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by ChugachPeaks » Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:38 pm

I've heard mention a few times of an interesting packrafting trip; Girdwood to Knik River traverse via the new Winner Creek Trail and then a nasty bushwhack to the next put-in near the Lake George Glacier. We were thinking of staying high as long as possible along the ridges to avoid the alders lower in the valley. I have flown through the Gorge and know packrafting through it is probably unlikely, so we were thinking of heading up and doing a bit more bushwhacking and dropping back down before the lower lake. Another option would be to get into the Hunter Creek drainage and put in immediately after the fork (anyone who's ice climbed back there knows getting through the boulder gardens there would be very difficult if not impossible!).. and then follow that back out to the Knik and continue on towards the old glen bridge. Any beta on this from anyone? Thanks!

RomanDial
Posts: 422
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:13 am

"Flower Power": Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by RomanDial » Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:11 pm

Chris Flowers did it first way back when, solo and fast in a Sevylor Trail Boat.

He and I and Jason Geck, Betsy Young, and Ian Thomas took a bunch of neophyte boaters in my Alaska Pacific University packrafting class across in September a few years ago. Mistake.

It's a great Chugach test piece, but you need good weather and expert routefinding skills, IMHO. Not to mention some big smiles from the Big Guy.

The day we rafted out was the most varied day of packrafting I have ever done. It was like a Hig and Erin adventure in one day of boating: little creek, quicksand, class III rapids, braided river, lakes, icebergs, lakes and icebergs, all on one float on one day.

The hiking requires really good route finding skills, persistence, patience and a high pain threshold, not to mention super care.

We hiked to above Berry Pass the first day (via Winner Creek before the trail); second day we made it to the pass between 20 mile drainage and Knik drainage (stay high, and good luck crossing the upper 20 mile -- need low water, hard to do it in a boat); third day we camped below toe of the Lake George Glacier. Fourth day we floated out.

Be sure you have good beta on the Knik Gorge iceberg situation -- we went through there and I know nothing about "doing a bit more bushwhacking and dropping back down before the lower lake. Another option would be to get into the Hunter Creek drainage and put in immediately after the fork".

But don't let this put you off ChugachPeaks -- it's THE Chugach test piece traverse. An intense Magical Mystery Tour best for three people with good judgement. BTW, I know of more parties who have turned back than of parties who have made it through.

ChugachPeaks

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by ChugachPeaks » Tue Feb 26, 2008 6:00 am

Roman,
Thanks for the great info! This will definitely help increase the odds of success. To clarify, the route variation I mentioned would be the following; Between Lake George and the end of the gorge (if you're headed downstream) has been mostly clear the few times I've flown the gorge. However, there has been enough ice in one spot, about 3/4 down that would make passage nearly impossible. My idea was to skip most of the gorge and packup the packrafts again and hike above the west (or left) side of the gorge and drop back down at the end of the gorge near the secondary "lower lake." I'd have to take another look to make sure getting cliffed out there wasn't guarenteed, but bringing a thinner 30m rope and one harness would probably allow a party to rappel any cliff bands, as most would be small in that area.

Joe

wfinley
Site Admin
Posts: 86
Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2007 12:36 pm

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by wfinley » Mon Mar 24, 2008 7:31 pm

FYI - Eric & Tony biked up to the gorge this past weekend. The glacier has surged all the way to the wall:
http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=394949

RomanDial
Posts: 422
Joined: Mon Oct 01, 2007 11:13 am

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by RomanDial » Tue Mar 25, 2008 11:57 am

Another super cool Eric P video. Looked like neat biking!

Seems like this run up against the wall might happen every winter? Then summer comes and the upstream river draining off the Colony, Whiteout, and Lake George Gls melt the channel through the Gorge? When we went through there was a place that was pinched off by 'bergs....if it does damn the rivers, there'll be a whopping big lake up there.

CST
Posts: 60
Joined: Sun Jul 29, 2007 11:27 pm

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by CST » Wed Mar 26, 2008 3:25 pm

Yeah, like Roman Said, I bet its always like that in the winter then gets carved out in the summer. Its welllll worth the bike trip if you have good studded tires. I'll do it again in a heart beat!
looking foreward to boating season!

Bodysnatcher
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun May 18, 2008 9:48 pm
Location: Palmer, AK

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by Bodysnatcher » Sun May 18, 2008 10:15 pm

In re the comment regarding "beta on the bergs in the gorge", isn't that passage always choked with floaters?

andrewskurka

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by andrewskurka » Sat May 23, 2009 7:42 pm

Is anyone interested in doing this route during the first week of July? I'm doing a long hike through south-central AK starting in mid-June and need to get from the Placer River to Sutton/Chickaloon over the Chugach. This is the obvious route but I don't feel comfortable taking it on alone. If I can't find an interested party I plan to do Crow Pass and Eagle River and then walk the roads. Send me a private message if you're interested, thanks.

andydennis
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:08 pm

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by andydennis » Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:54 am

Anyone do this route recently?

Cody A
Posts: 14
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2009 11:11 pm

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by Cody A » Fri Jul 13, 2012 5:05 pm

If anybody wants to to try this trip, I am looking for something to do the last week of July and into first week of August. I am currently living out of state but will be back during that time period. PM me if interested in this trip or a different one and looking for partners. I've tried a variation on the original route unsuccessfully in the past, I have an idea for a similar route that I've scouted from the air that looks promising.

NickT
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Jun 18, 2014 7:52 am

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by NickT » Sun Jun 22, 2014 2:47 pm

My friend Neil and I did the traverse last week. Roman’s summary is pretty much spot on on both the risks and rewards. Yeah, the upper Twentymile did have some pretty brutal bushwhacking, but Neil’s routefinding got us pretty far up the valley before we had to delve in. Some sketchy ravine-crossings higher up and some canyons to avoid going down the other side of the pass. Then down at the Gorge it took some creativity to get through/around/over the icebergs but it’s all flat water so the stakes aren’t as high.

The traverse was an ass-kicker, for sure. It takes some delicate route-finding to avoid the traps, but there some cool stuff back there and I have to say it never felt as dangerous as our hitchhike back home from the Old Glenn bridge with a guy taking bong hits while weaving through traffic.

andydennis
Posts: 24
Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 1:08 pm

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by andydennis » Mon Jun 23, 2014 7:05 am

nice work on the flower power.

Bodysnatcher
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun May 18, 2008 9:48 pm
Location: Palmer, AK

Re: Girdwood-Knik River Traverse?

Post by Bodysnatcher » Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:07 pm

Helicopter service at Knik River Lodge is first class, for anybody looking to do just the gorge. I got dropped off at Lake George last week and picked my way through the ice bergs in Knik Gorge. Only got out of the raft once as a particular section of rock seemed easier to traverse than the bergs did to navigate. It was a good move, too. Lot's of beautiful streams and falls hidden in the rocks, not to mention knock-out views of the glacier. One just might be able to hike back to the lake on those rocks.

Post Reply