The south side of the Alaska Range, the Talkeetnas, the Chugach mountains, the Kenai Peninsula and the Wrangells
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We rafted yesterday with lower water conditions compared to the trip we took last year a week earlier in July. Lots more rock dodging, and lots more exposed rocks in the bigger rapids making for some uncomfortable bumps, and a few swims after getting stuck right before the drops. Still lots of fun, though, and armed with better beta we found the old cut that runs to the river with relatively small amount of shwacking. To find the cut, leave the lake heading directly north to the high point in the middle of the saddle. From there, look for the two small creeks and head directly in the middle, where the biggest alders are. You'll see the cut and then probably lose it fairly quickly once you start heading down. We went more left and picked it up again. Don't get too close to the creek, because it gets steep and you'll lose the trail in a couple of places. All told, this path saved us about 45 minutes of BW3 alder bashing compared to last year. There were a few river wide sweepers and four portages - almost all of which are easily seen. If in doubt, take the river right channels and you'll avoid most of them. There is also small sweeper at water level directly in the middle of one of the bigger rapids that's just above water level below the slow middle section. At higher flows it would be completely submerged and harmless. Everyone but me avoided that spot - I got to swim.
Ran Sheep again this weekend. Water level was the lowest I've been on it and the last third of the river wasn't good. The game trail from the lake down to the river is wide open, with literally no bushwhacking we were at the put in area in an hour. There's some new wood in the water, all of which is either avoidable or easily seen in time to portage.
Lol, the first time I went I had no idea how thick the brush was. We also did not have packrafts and carried 35lb Ik's with our gear, and extra stuff we did not need, I think my pack was 80lbs. Yep, it was a near death experience from the hike, and from the bears. It was loaded with bears, we saw 6, and on two seperated ocassions, they would not move out of the stream for several minutes. We also heard about 6-10 more explode through the brush upon realizing we were there. Other times I have been on on the creek, few or no bears were present, but ther first trip was epic, actually ruined part of the trip from bear stress. It is a different stream with more water, and I imagine it would be a handful if Willow were much over a 1000cfs at the of running it, would seem more Chickaloon like, Chickaloon is a bit harder though, even at normal good medium levels.