Up Late....

The Brooks Range and everything north of the Brooks Range. Includes the Noatak and Seward Peninsula.
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Lyonslifeboat
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:54 pm

Up Late....

Post by Lyonslifeboat » Thu Nov 28, 2013 6:23 am

It is now 4:33 a.m. and the past four nights I have been struggling with a bout of insomnia... I think I now know why. I believe it is something called "Non-Posters Remorse" or "NPR" if you are into those short hand internet abbreviations lol.

Now to be able to sleep again I must first warn you I am not often a poster on any forum but one who hides out in the dark and then steals your trip and gear ideas. Second warning it is 4:30 in the morning and it has also been a while since being on the water and have thus shifted energy towards my splitboard but here goes anyway.


My girlfriend and I were looking for a fun long weekend raft/sheephunting trip off of the Haul Rd North of Atigun Pass. We decided on running Atigun Gorge to the Saginvarnitok River back to the Haul Rd. I believe our trip dates date back to August 20-23. Special thanks to Shoutdiggitty for the trip suggestion and volunteering his friends loft in Anchorage so we didn't have to pony up in a cardboard box in the big city. And another thankyou to Roman whom we met in front of the APU mapstore whom was in a hurry to get after his iceworms until he heard our trip plans (he then had time to lend some advice ;] )

Day 1:
We arrived midmorning to the river. All of our gear strewn about my Subaru as usual so before suiting up all gear needed to be packed in. Put in was just to the north of Pumpstation 3. Weather was not very Arctic tundra like by my understanding, periods of light and heavy rain. Made about 1.5 miles from bridge when I needed to empty the bladder which also happened to be the exact timing that a wildlife patrol officer was making a pass overhead. He landed nearby and wished us luck on our float and hunt. After being seen off we entered the gorge. Ceiling was very low and the rain continued to come. Temps not very high but our spirits were. Scouted everything before running and day 1 mainly had us running PRIII with a PRIV mixed in. Jen in her cruiser decked Alpacka with her much too big pack took on a bit too much water in one of the hydraulics and decided she wanted to wash her hair. All was well and she got her first dip out of the way with a smile on her face. Camp was set up at around mile 5 of the river with some rice and beans mixed with wild Porcini and berries picked locally. Not much time was spent outside after the drysuits came off as the rain continued unrelentlessly. We decided camp should be set a bit higher than highwater mark.

Day 2:
Got an early start to the day since we are really not good at sleeping much more than 12 hours in a night. Woke up to beautiful rainy skies with a ceiling that shrouded the entire gorge once again. Glad scenery wasn't a detail we were looking for. Straight into bigger water for the 2 of us. Made slow progress as the many switchbacks and steeper walls of the gorge had us out and scouting every bend. We took out and walked one spot that looked pretty spooky to us where the water to a bend to the north and much of the current was sieved beneath a cut rock. Other than that spot all went smoothly except for Jen's second dip of the trip (hehe). The better part of the day was spent in the lower half of the gorge heading to the Sag. Mostly PRIII+ to PRIV. Coming out of the gorge the sky opened up and allowed us some pretty amazing views of the tundra framed to the north by the Brooks. After the last rapids fast PRII-PRIII.
Paddled up the nearly flat calm Sag River at its confluence with Atigun about 200 yards. Set up camp on river bank left on a small patch of dry untussocked tundra next to a set of wolf tracks. Sky continued to clear but Atigun Gorge continued to stay socked in (maybe its always shrouded in mystery, maybe we will find out again). The winged eating machines were perpetually annoying while eating lunch. Ate more of them then our homemade vegan energy bars (irony?!?). We did not stow my .308 in my yak for nothing so we made the quick jaunt over to the small range behind in search of a full curl. After searching 2 drainages high and low the ceiling began to sink once more. With that so did our energy. We checked one more drainage, played with a huge caribou skull headed back to camp with but a few raindrops on our rainhats. Dinner again consisted of magical mushrooms and berries with some carried in supplementals. Sleep came quick.

Day 3:
Summer is dead. We awoke with the feeling that it was no longer our favorite Alaskan season. Maybe it was because our tent was blown near completely sideways in the gusts coming up the valley or maybe it was because of the new white beanies all the nearby peaks had adorned. Anyways we knew it would not be a very comfortable float out. Most of the day was spent in and out of the boat. Not so much to scout but to run in place. Various parts of our bodies had a hardtime thermoregulating especially once I realized my suit was not staying as water resistant as it once had. We were warned about the rogue class III somewhere ahead but we laughed it off as we floated through some nice fast moving PRI and PRII water straight into the 50 mph headwinds. A few hours in I believed to hear something other than the wind howling past my ears. I figured It was just my eardrums bursting as they froze from within. Then we saw the walls around us start to go a little vertical and a slight reprieve from the wind achieved. However this dumped us out into a fun action packed boulder field of PRIII maybe + with water levels. I did not have my WW spray deck on tight enough and therefore got swamped and nearly dumped. Able to paddle through with a boat full of water and came that much nearer to hypothermia. Nearly 2 mour hours of gentle meanderings and we were in sight of the road. Soaked and nearly frostbit we decided to hop out a little early and hoof it across the tundra. Boy you warm up fast hiking in a drysuit with a nearly 50lb waterlogged pack in tow. Thumbs stuck out trucks 1-3 blow by but lo and behold we are not the the only tourist hippies out on this fine day. A couple and there dog pull up in their Subaru and pack us in tight amongst there camp gear and tow us back to our car about 23 miles South. Construction slows our progress but whos in a hurry when sharing stories with strangers while getting your face cleaned by their all too friendly fido? Get back to the car hand them a jar of dried morels (it pays to pick up some dirtbags) and get on our way. The sky opens up and gives us a wonderful glimpse down the gorge and the crowning jewels of Atigun Pass.

Lyonslifeboat
Posts: 2
Joined: Mon Aug 19, 2013 6:54 pm

Re: Up Late....

Post by Lyonslifeboat » Thu Nov 28, 2013 7:04 am

Again sorry for the belatedness of these posts but I'll just post one more more recent trip here and then maybe I can sleep until its time for the feast of gold chocolate coins and tofurkey. This should probably go under the Central American forums but I have your attention already so it'll go here for now.

Honduras

My girlfriend and I had the unique experience to become unemployed roughly around the same time. We decided to not let it get us down but well I guess maybe we did get down. We headed south to warmer climes in pursuit of diving. After some weird happening in the British Virgin Islands (I'll save you the story but take our word do not dive with Jost van Dyke Scuba) we found our way to Utila, Honduras after about a week here I was told by Dr. John (trust me you also don't want to have to go to him) that my ears where not made to be a dive master. We then decided it was time to leave Honduras and make the journey back north to the homeland, but not before breaking out our most prized of our luggage...

My sister had been down to Honduras only a few months before us where she and her boyfriend where employed as Duck rowers. She told us we couldn't leave until we rafted the Cangrejal and I'm not sorry we did.

From Utila we took the ferry to la Ceiba (aprox. $25 US), from la Ceiba we hopped a taxi up the mountain to Omega tours ($15USD) at Omega tours we were found all the beds had been booked but they allowed us the luxury of the tent. We quickly made friends with the guides and hostess after name dropping my sister and telling them of our intentions. We were soon the crazy American couple that planned to drown ourselves in a couple of blow up boats on what some consider some of the toughest most easily accessed whitewater in Honduras. To tell the truth we got a little spooked when they just shrugged their shoulders at us when we asked if they thought it was safe. We got a little more spooked when the native Honduran told me in Spanish about the giant salmon-like fish inhabiting the rapids and pools in the canyon that he would sometimes catch with his bare hands (I looked at my fly rods and felt a bit of shame come over me). After what was nearly the best meal I had ever eaten had made its way down my gullet dreams of drysuit free rafting overcame us.

After talking with one of the guides again in the morning we were lent PFD's and helmets and the secret put in and take out spots and offered to come along with one of there trips. After eyeing up the guest list we felt we would be just fine on our own. put in was nearly directly across the street from the Omega tours drive. A few miles upriver was the canyon with the fabled runs of class V+ rapids but with so little water in the river and little recent experience we took our chances on what was a very bony PRIV at best.

First things first. Inflate. Awe all other guides and dive into the warm water. With boulders the size of houses strewn about and water we wanted to be dumped into we were a bit out of our element but loving every minute. 5-10' drops abounded and made for a lot of fun practice by pulling out and rerunning. Really got to learn the virtues of the the big but and WW deck while Jen decided to go for a couple swims out of her skinny butted cruising Alpacka. Fun was had by all. We scouted all spots and only decided not to run one spot that we later learned was called the "Ziplock". We got a fun half day river trip packed with drops and the only spooky part was hanging onto the back of the truck for the bumpy ride back to another awesome meal. We decided to not stay much longer as the steep price tag (steep for a couple of unemployed water bums) for the tent and giant spider guarding the door ran us off to sleep at the San Pedro Sula Airport but not before picking wild oranges, lychees, and Cocoplums.

If anyone wants to know trip details or more detailed travel info PM me and I will get it to you. Sorry for the lack of pictures. I tried and it said attachment quota reached. I'll try again.

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