GUIDED ALASKA Canoe

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VIEW AVAILABLE TRIPS Canoes are the traditional mode of river travel in Alaska. The quiet and simplicity of Alaska river canoeing allows us to take in our surroundings slowly. Canoe trips offer the right speed, freedom and grace for navigating rivers like the Kokolik, and the legendary Yukon River. From Katmai National Park to the Gates of the Arctic and the Western Brooks Range, canoes are a great way to enjoy the wilderness. What to Expect on an Alaska Canoe Trip We have a fleet of 16 foot Norwegian made folding canoes and a few inflatable canoes. Depending on the size of the group, there will be one or two Arctic Wild guides on each trip, though not in each boat. On “travel days”, everyone works as a team to make and break camp and to maneuver the canoes safely down the river. We plan all of our trips to maximize wildlife viewing and to provide ample time for leisurely picnic lunches, fishing and hiking. Our Alaska river canoe trips frequently include one, two, or three layover days, spent exploring, fishing, bird watching or just enjoying the solitude and silence. Preparing for your Canoe Adventure We offer a variety of canoe trips for varying abilities. Trips like the Yukon River or Noatak River are suitable for most paddlers. Rivers like the Nigu or Canning require more experience with river canoeing. Our guides will provide canoeing instruction throughout the trip, so you do not need to be an expert paddler. Most of the paddling on our wilderness canoe trips is at a relaxed pace and no specific physical training is necessary, but being in decent shape physically will increase your overall enjoyment of the canoe trip. If you are interested in becoming a skilled canoeist prior to the trip, we are happy to arrange a course for you. Please contact us for details.

Porcupine Canoe

The Porcupine River is a classic Alaska wilderness canoe trip on the south side of the Brooks Range in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Camp with us on the long sandbars filled with tracks of moose, wolves and waterfowl.  A week on the river is a timeless experience suitable for novice paddlers and seasoned explorers alike.

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DATES

July 12, 2020 - July 19, 2020
region

REGION

Arctic National Wildlife Refuge
price

TRIP COST

$5,100

TRIP DETAILS

The Porcupine River collects its clear dark waters from the southeastern Brooks Range, from the Bell River in Canada’s Yukon Territory and from innumerable ponds and streams in the Old Crow Flats. It has an ecology and an aesthetic all its own, merging the feel of the rocky Arctic Refuge with the serenity of the broad sky of interior of Alaska.

The Porcupine River is a ribbon of clear water connecting the mountains to the flats, where northern animals like caribou, mix with boreal species like beaver and moose. The open gravel bars and bluffs are home to grizzly bears, and the denser forests to the black bear. The river itself supports a great diversity of fish and waterfowl. Fish species include salmon, whitefish, blackfish, pike and burbot. Sea ducks, dabbling ducks and geese breed in the marshes by the thousands.

Along much of the river in this section are steep and rocky bluffs. Some of them are several hundred feet tall. These spectacular bluffs support an ecology all their own and provide some of the best nesting habitat for peregrine falcons in Alaska. This is lean country, but king and chum salmon will be working their way upriver towards their spawning grounds in Canada. These fish will draw bears and others to the river for this seasonal feast. Moose are a common sight in the ponds and sloughs near the river.

In addition to the rich natural history, the river has an interesting human history. Gwich’in Athabascan Indians have hunted and fished this stretch of river for centuries. Starting in the late 1800’s trappers and then prospectors inhabited nearly every valley. Cabins, old mines, fish wheels and other relics of the area’s heyday can be found along the river and in the woods including a couple old village sites and a Hudson Bay trading post, now full of trees. As we explore the Porcupine River by canoe we will learn about and reflect on the fur trade and the time when this river provided the main access for outsiders into this part of the world.

The pace of this trip will be leisurely. The camping along the Porcupine is world class for scenery and comfort. Warm sandy beaches allow us to spread-out and relax, and abundant firewood keeps us warm should the weather turn. Some of our paddling days may be long, but there will always be time to pull over and investigate sights along the way. With less than 100 miles to cover and 6 full days to paddle, we won’t have to hurry.

Weather in the interior this time of year tends to be sunny and warm though we will be prepared for anything from temperatures over 80 degrees down to freezing. Canoeing experience is not required. This trip is an ideal choice for the adventurous family, seasoned Alaskans looking for a new river to explore, or for someone looking to gain wilderness skills in the far north.

ITINERARY

What follows is a general flow of events. Expect the unexpected and prepare to be flexible.

July 11:

Meet your guide at a pre-trip meeting at 4 pm at Arctic Wild headquarters in Fairbanks.

July 12:

It is an early departure on the mail plane to Fort Yukon, where the Porcupine meets the Yukon River. From there we charter a smaller plane further north and east to a gravel bar on the Porcupine River just below the Alaska/ Canada border. Once all are on the ground, we can begin assembling our canoes and settling into our wilderness home.

July 13:

Before we launch on the river will work on refining our paddling skills and will discuss river safety. Then we join the current and paddle past bluffs and onto Old Rampart House, the site of the first Hudson Bay post in the area.

July 14 - 18:

Our time is ours to do what we please. We can start our day by climbing the bluff behind camp to smell the sweet sage and watch hawks and falcons circle above the river. Or we can head out early and watch the glassy river slip beneath the canoe. At lunch we can follow a small creek back into the woods where we find an old cabin with a garden still producing rhubarb in the wilderness. We will travel most days and will be on the water for five to six hours each day. This schedule allows plenty of time for exploring from camp or making side trips during a leisurely lunch break. We will pass many clear water side streams that offer opportunities to fish. As we near our final destination, the river bluffs disappear and we enter an area called the Yukon Flats, a fantastically productive area for waterfowl. Here, as the river slows, the sky is broad and colorful.

July 19:

All good things must end. Shake the sand from your tent and pack your gear in anticipation of our quick flight to Fort Yukon and then onto Fairbanks. Weather permitting we arrive in time for dinner and shower.

WHAT'S INCLUDED

Round-trip transportation from Fairbanks

Food while in the wilderness, stoves, cooking & eating utensils

Boats, paddles, life jackets, safety & repair gear

Professional guide service

 

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

Lodging

Non-camp meals

Personal clothing and gear.

Fishing gear, and fishing license

Gratuity for guide(s)

Rental equipment is available through Arctic Wild. See full equipment list.

WEATHER & BUGS

Temperatures vary dramatically in the Far North. Temperatures will range from 90 to 40. We will get some good hot weather and some windy cool weather, but generally it should be warm (by Alaska standards) This is mosquito season, and they will be a factor we plan to mollify by choosing open, breezy camps. Bring a mosquito head net and a small bottle DEET repellent for forays into the woods.

RECOMMENDED READING

Coming into the Country, John McPhee; Furs and Frontiers of the Far North, John Bockstoce; Interior Alaska – A Journey Through Time, Alaska Geographic Society; Ordinary Wolves, Seth Kantner; Two Old Women, Velma Wallis. More Alaska reading is available from our Bookstore.