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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Made it back last night from my Alaska wilderness float trip, and what a trip!


Saturday, August 26, everyone meets up at the gate headed for Dillingham. We meet our pilots wife when we landed in rainy Dillingham and was informed we weren't flying out that day due to a low ceiling,we spent the night at their guest cabin. We hung out at the lake and fished for silvers on the wood river.
Sunday morning arrives and one of my trip partners notifies me ten minutes before we fly out to Aniak Iake that he ain't going. Close friends that he had contact with got covid so he backs out.
Our plane lands and 2 of us load up and fly out to Aniak Lake.
Sky Plant Cloud Mountain Vehicle

Cloud Sky Water Ecoregion Tent
Cloud Water Sky Mountain Natural landscape

Water Sky Cloud Seaplane Aircraft

Cloud Sky Water Mountain Natural landscape

I manage to catch my first lake trout on a fly for a trout dinner for our first night.
Water Ecoregion Military camouflage Mountain Sky
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Monday morning brings rain and we pack up for the start of the 120 mile remote float out to the remote bush village of Aniak where we are scheduled to fly back to Anchorage on the 12th of september.
Water Sky Boat Cloud Watercraft


The rain ends by the end of the day and we enjoy a nice evening of grayling fishing
Cloud Water Sky Water resources Natural landscape

Water Smile Lake Fisherman Bank

Water Military camouflage Plant Marines Outdoor recreation
 

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On the second day we encounter our first log jam and have to portage around it. After the log jam the river drops rapidly and the current will remain classI swift/ class II. We quickly learn to read water and Eddie hop trying desperately to stay out of the outer seam of the river. The outer seam is the fastest part of the river and will suck a craft into the under cut bank where the sweepers and log piles lie. We had to line the boats several times on the sharp 90 degree bends. After a long challenging day we go to bed after some hot spaghetti.
Plant Cloud Sky Plant community Tent
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
That same day we continue on with our float
elated that we found fish and we anticipated more of the same. The following day we broke camp and quickly moved along in the fast current,within a hour of the morning the river braided and narrowed. I maneuvered through a narrow chute just clearing a low hanging sweeper. My buddy wasnt so lucky and got stuck sideways in the current doing battle with the overhanging bush and capsized. I stopped briefly in a weak Eddie to see if he made it to shore all the while floating down stream until I lost the up stream flow of the Eddie. I suddenly realized my course was set straight for the vee of a log jam and I knew immediately I would be pinned.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
With less than a second to respond I do 2 powerful forward stokes hoping to high center my self on the outer log of the vee which was partially submerged. Unfortunately the weight of my bow wouldn't permit me to center the boat over log and I was quickly tossed out and was placed firmly under my boat which was pinned to the inner log. My mind raced with thoughts of my wife. I knew my heart would stop beating soon if I didn't get out from under it. I manged to get on my back place my feet on the inner log and grab ahold of outer tube of my inflatable kayak. Pushing with my legs and pulling with my arms I managed to pop out and cling to the boat with my legs pushing against the log. At Ieast I managed to breath air now but I couldn't stay in that position for long, I had to make a move. Thrusting my feet off the log, I kicked and pulled my way up and over the boat and now clung on to the log that was pinning my boat. RapidIy i began removing the gear off my boat clipping it to the limbs of the log in a race against time before the force of the river destroyed my boat.
Finally one piece left I struggled to untie the bag and then my partner climbs on the same log as me and helps me with the dry bag. We immediately tug and push the boat up and over the outer log and onto shore. Exhausted I fall to the ground panting in the crisp morning air.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
As I was catching my breath my eyes gazed over the gear strewn on the banks and log. "MY PADDLE" I cried out. Jumping to our feet we scoured the river with our eyes in vain. Frantically we raced down the bank stopping at every eddie yelling " hey bear" the entire time until we reached a gravel bar piled up with logs.
Nothing.

We made it back
to our gear quietly hashing over thoughts of our reality. We portaged everything down to the gravel bar, set up camp, made a fire and began drying everything out by noon.
Fully rested and dry we discussed several options, like leaving gear behind, doubling up in the kayak, breaking down the paddle we had Ileft each using a half, using a stick for a paddle, and even making a paddle like the indigenous people before us did. We found flaws in every option.
Disgusted with my options I went for a walk
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I walked the length of our gravel bar several times methodically looking over every log pile I could find searching for some kind of a flat board like splinter of wood that I could use.
Nothing but whole spruce trees dried in the Alaska sun lying scattered on the shore totally stripped of bark. Some logs were huge, some were pole size, I kept noticing this one dry aged tree about 6 inches in diameter at the top, it's entire length was straight and held up off the ground by its massive trunk and root ball. I studied it for a long time. "This could work" I muttered to myself. "What about a vice, how could I hold it while I shaped the other side?" I looked around and lo and behold there were 3 tree logs running parallel all less then 3 feet apart 3 feet off the ground. "Perfect!" In my delight I enthusiastically ran back to camp yelling at my partner, "were gonna build a paddle!" He looked at me quite bewildered with that WTF look all on his face. "Yup were going to build a paddle!" I grab my folding saw, our only paddle, and off i went back to the single dried out log tree. I placed the paddle on top of the log and with the saw began laying out the dimensions of the total length of paddle , each blade length was marked off and I began cutting 1 inch wide kerfs.My buddy walked over and said are you nuts? I explained the entire layout, I explained my vice and I explained the method of knocking the kerfed chunks off with a rock and my chisel files I carry, how we would rough shape it first and then use our buck knives like a draw knife to finish shape it. He laughed disgusted and walked off. I continued on with the blade end. Sawing Kerf
, busting them off and saw some more Kerfs until one side of one blade was flat. He said do you know how long this is going to take? Well, so far I have a half hour into it, so about 2 days I said. If we don't try we'll never succeed. Natives use to build these things with sharpened rocks.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
We both worked on the paddle until dark that night making one whole side of the log the length of the paddle flat. I woke up at six the next morning ate some oat meal and got after it. We cut the marked off paddle free from the rest of the log, put it in our vice and continued the flattening process. By 11 o'clock we had a roughed out paddle.
Wood Trunk Soil Logging Lumber

By 4 o'clock we had a finished paddle.
Cloud Sky People in nature Wood Smile

The next day we packed up and moved on with completed paddle
Water Boat Natural environment Plant Fluvial landforms of streams
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
This is awesome, thanks for taking the time to put it together for us to enjoy!! My old man always tied his paddle off to his vessel with some paracord....and he still carried an extra paddle! 😆
Best thread I've read here in some time. I keep refreshing hoping for an update.
Glad everyone is liking it. I have some new material for the I sharted thread.
I'll wrap this up tomorrow.
Bringing extra gear is the way to go, but unfortunately due to weight and small planes, that's not always an option. Ounces add up to pounds quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
I will add this. When my partner that dropped out asked me if I needed anything of his I said pak raft for a spare, and your food. What about the paddle for a spare? He said. In my prideful arrogance I said nah I don't plan on tipping over. But a raft could come in handy in case we bounce off a log or a bear eats it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #35 ·
Thanks for sharing, enjoyed reading.
I hope you kept that paddle!! Wall hanger for sure.
I wanted to bring it home but due to its size we decided to I eave it at the bnb we stayed at.
Before I left for the trip one of the things I thought of during the planning stage was a paddle lanyard. I thought it might be more of a hazard though if I deed indeed wind up upside down struggling to get out with a dangling paddle on a length of rope. I was concerned of entanglement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #44 ·
Due to the fact that I smashed my phone and it getting wet I have no pictures other than what my buddy texted me on my new phone, so the rest of this story will be in text except for this one.
After making the paddle and breaking camp we continued to be challenged with the fast high water. A day had passed before we made it to the kipchuk and the salmon River confluence. We spent the night at the Salmon catching grayling for dinner on labor day. At this point we started to see other people and that continued all the way to Aniak. We talked to a few fishing guides about the high-water conditions and the slow fishing we were experiencing and they confirmed it was tough fishing even for them. They all asked about our paddle. Each day forward was a continued challenge and I looked forward to reaching the lower slower river, but with that we found a new challenge.

The lower river was quite high and we struggled to find suitable gravel bars for camp. One evening after a full day of holing up in the tent due to hard rains we had to relocate because we were losing our gravel bar, we camped in the willows that night.
 

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Discussion Starter · #47 ·
Our extraction date was September 12 with a night stay scheduled for the 11th. On the 10th I made a call to the bnb to see if he had an opening for the night as we're just a few miles away. Bingo, he did and we made no haste in getting there.
We were Picked up at the landing in a matter of minutes of arrival. Our accommodations were rustic but warm and dry with a wonderful hot shower and a 45 dollar pizza we settled in for the night. We met some guides and a successful moose hunter that invited us for dinner on our Iast night. I forgot how good moose taste and we enjoyed fellowship with some hardcore Alaskans that were impressed with our story.
On the 12th we made it to the Aniak airport at 1 ready to catch the 3 o clock flight. Upon checking in we found out there was no 3 pm flight. Apparently they changed their schedule and didn't email us. Welcome to the bush.
Lucky for us the 9 am flight was delayed and just arrived. We made it out by the skin of our teeth 😬 as there were no more flights scheduled until Thursday.
 

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Discussion Starter · #61 ·
Enjoyed reading about your trip and glad no body was seriously hurt.
You could write a book someday about all your Alaskan adventures.
My next AK fishing trip is going to be extremely mild and relaxing. I don't know if I can handle any more excitement. Haha.
I'm thinking 9 days total trip counting travel, less than 49 mile float out. I got something in mind for next year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #63 ·
Sounds like an adventure! I talked to your partner at the country club just before the trip. I was so jealous…can’t wait to talk to PVN to see if he would do it again.


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My guess would be no.
 
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