300 miles on the Sheenjek

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My first, and biggest solo trip was on the Sheenjek river in Alaska. I flew to Anchorage, Fairbanks and Fort Yukon where I hopped on a bush plane. The pilot took me up to the highest navigable water near the continental divide in the Brooks range where we dropped most of my kit (surrounded by a solar electric fence to keep the bears off). Then he flew me another 15 miles upstream and left me. I hiked for a few days back to my stuff and then floated for 25 days down the Sheenjek to the Porcupine and I took the Porcupine to the Yukon at Fort Yukon. I used my 16' Ally pack boat. Beautiful river. Not too crowded. I brought a VHF radio so that if I got into trouble I would be able to call a passing plane for help. Now when I go on solo trips I bring a SPOT tracker which has an SOS button that should send in the cavalry if things start hitting the fan.
 

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The bush pilot had told me that the mosquitos disappeared around the first of August and I ended up going on July 31st. I had bugs on the first night and none after that. Gotta love getting the local input. The year I went was hot and dry so it was shorts & t-shirts almost every day, but I saw a post from another trip on another year and they were wearing down and posing in a snow storm in August. It's good to be lucky.
 
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Wow. That must have been amazing.

You think big for sure!

I'm glad you had both fun and luck.

Can you share any more photos?
 
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It was amazing. There's nothing like watching that bush plane disappear over the continental divide leaving you in the silence after 6 months of preparation. I picked the Sheenjek because it was the longest, smallest river I could find where I only had to take a bush plane one way. I'm sure you Canadians could school me on other options. (I have the Mountain River in my sights for the future) There was very little white water (I was getting plenty of adventure without adding that to the mix), but there were lots of tight bends with sweepers to keep me on my toes.
 

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Joined
Jan 8, 2014
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Location
Minden, NV
I have had a love affair with Alaska since the late 70s. I have only been in the Interior once, but it was very impressive. You chose a really interesting river. I agree about the challenges of that country without adding major rapids. Those tall skinny spruce trees are very familiar. Tell us about your wildlife sightings. Do you meet any Native people on your trip? Some people know how to put together a trip report.

All of the trips to Alaska have been memorable. Most of them were work related, but seeing things like wolverine, 10 mountain goats, bears everyday, and herding salmon with the prop wash of the helicopter are memories for a lifetime. Please tell us more about your adventures in the North.
 
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Jul 30, 2014
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This is a dream trip! I'm sure I'm not the only one here that feels this way. I would love to read as many details as you have the patience for! Thanks for sharing.
 
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Sep 7, 2014
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Props to you sir, and great photos indeed. Alaska is definitely in my top 5 places to paddle before I die.
 
Joined
Jan 8, 2014
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Minden, NV
Working in SE Alaska the only handy way to get around is by helicopter. In a lot of that country walking all day only nets about 5 miles. There are no trails except for the ones made by moose and large bears. There is 150 inches of rain and everything has been glaciated resulting in steep sided U shaped valleys. The tidal range is 20-25 feet. Everything is slippery. But is beautiful beyond words and the most common wildlife are bald eagles and black bears.

I did lots of water quality sampling and worked around fishing bears all the time. It was hard to get used the sound of the helicopter fading in the distance and then to hear all of that quiet, especially while working alone. I saw bears everyday often from less than 50 yards because of the dense Sitka spruce and western hemlock forests. Sitka spruce makes for some great gunwale material. For anyone contemplating going to Alaska, go sooner rather than later. It is a young person's country. Forget about cruise ships and go see the bush.
 
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Jul 11, 2014
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Ontario Canada
Absolutely incredible trip, experience and photos Scott. After hiking and paddling through that big country, it'd be hard to ever go home. Thanks for sharing.
 
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