Packrafting an Alaskan River

Packrafting an Alaskan River

In 2019, I and two friends bought packrafts and descended the Koyukuk River in Gates of the Artctic National Park. This is the story of that trip and what we learned about packrafting.
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In the spring of 2019, I and two friends bought packrafts and hiked and paddled the North Fork of the Koyukuk river.  Packrafts are a boat design developed over the past 15 years for light, flexible travel through the wilderness.  They are meant to be light enough to carry in your pack and sturdy enough to paddle down rivers.  We have canoed arctic rivers before and knew the advantages and limitations of canoes.  We wanted to discover what trips pack rafts were good for.  Was it really fesible to carry the boat and all associated safety gear?  What would it be like to paddle them?  What types of trips will these open up?

We slected the North Fork of the Koyukuk river as our testing ground.  We would start on the contental divide between the artic and pacific, pack our boats and gear down stream for several days, then take to the boats and complete the journey back to our starting point, the bush community of Bettles.  It was a great trip, we learned a lot, and spent hours discussing packrafts and the trips they are best suited for.

Come join me this evening for the story of our trip and report on packrafts.