Sanctuary/Gerstle R. Mid July Water Levels

North of the Alaska Range and south of the Brooks Range
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jpierson
Posts: 8
Joined: Tue Mar 23, 2010 9:20 pm

Sanctuary/Gerstle R. Mid July Water Levels

Post by jpierson » Wed Jul 07, 2010 3:34 pm

My friend and I, a couple of green packrafters (class I and II experience), hope to catch Denali National Park at a good time and run the Sanctuary River within the next two weeks (7/12/10 to 7/22/10). I was planning to call DNP headquarters to attempt to get a picture of how the Sanctuary looked for floating but I was hoping to get some details from the packraft community. Please advise if you have any knowledge of what the water levels would look like out there in mid-July. Also, a day hike and float up and down the Gerstle River looked enjoyable. Does mid-July offer enough flow in the Gerstle?

Thanks to any responders in advance for helping us avoid a day of sore butt boating.

joshspice

Re: Sanctuary/Gerstle R. Mid July Water Levels

Post by joshspice » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:31 am

The Gerstle is rarely floatable. Hope for a big rain event and still wait until late afternoon when water levels will be highest. I tried it earlier this month, with over two years of observational knowledge of the river's levels throughout the season, and it was not so good. We hiked from the bridge to where the braids channelize about 5 miles upriver and put in. It became very difficult to stay in the deepest sections and follow the strong current. We ended up pulling out about a mile from the bridge and walking back. The days prior to our attempt (why we went), included heavy rains, which brought up water levels significantly from their normal two channel status. Water was very dirty and extremely braided, dispersing over a broad area. Lots of shallow sections that are hard to detect. If I were to attempt the Gerstle again, it would only be at initial spring flood status, which probably means lots of debris and poor floating for other reasons.
Also, it must be done extremely light, i.e., nothing but your raft, paddle, and pfd. Any more weight means you'll drag. Temper your raft well.

joshspice

Re: Sanctuary/Gerstle R. Mid July Water Levels

Post by joshspice » Thu Jul 08, 2010 1:09 pm

Consider the Johnson, instead. A few miles to the east on the AK Highway.

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