Yukon&Alaska Canada: (ZZ-RAFTC-02)
Perhaps the wildest and most visually spectacular river in North America, the Tatshenshini River flows through the heart of the largest bio-preserve in the world, Tatshenshini Provincial Park. Recently protected by the establishment of this protected wilderness area, the Tatshenshinior “Tat” flows past tall mountains, vast glaciers and an iceberg dotted lake. Bald eagles abound, grizzlies feed on spawning salmon and if you are lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the rare blue glacier bear. This rafting adventure on the Tat is an international journey of unparalleled beauty.
The Tatshenshini River begins as only a tiny trickle amid the alpine meadows of the Chilkat Summit. This burgeoning rivulet eventually swells to more than half a mile (about one kilometer) in breadth. At its confluence with the Alsek River, the two rivers rival the largest drainages on the continent. Together they form a vital green corridor, between the interior and coast, through the highly glaciated and rugged peaks of the St. Elias Range and coastal mountains. Below the spectacular peaks, the broad lush valley is home to large populations of grizzlies, bald eagles, moose, wolves and other animals. These qualities have earned the river a reputation as a coveted destination. Visitors are often torn between the choice of beginning their trip on the Tatshenshini or the Alsek. Those who have experienced both say you must keep each of them on your list.
Featured in our ’99 Fall issue of Northern Currents, this is the region of the recent "Iceman" discovery.
We raft from the Klukshu River, a coastal range river at Dalton Post to the Yukon River and Dry Bay, Alaska along a 255 km (160 mile) route with an elevation drop of 550 m (approx. 1,800 ft).
This is an all camping trip. We provide Tent – Mountain Hardware Trango 3, self-supporting dome tent - comfortable for 2 people with some remaining floor space for clothing etc. (single occupancy is $50). If you wish to bring your own, please contact us to approve the model and design. All meals are prepared by your guides - your help is welcome.
The following is a tentative itinerary and has been designed with much thought to capitalize on the most scenic and exciting parts of the river, while making time on other sections. Your guides will adjust the schedule to make the best use of river and weather conditions.
The following initials indicate the meals included each day:
Breakfast = B | Lunch = L | Dinner = D
Day 0 WHITEHORSE, YUKON
Your journey north from your home will be a refreshing departure. You will fly over the largest expanse of wilderness in the world with stunning views on cloudless days, pass through quieter and friendlier airports, meet friendlier and less harried service personnel and generally begin to immerse yourself in the wilderness experience that is about to unfold.
The scheduled flights arrive in Whitehorse throughout the day. Aim to arrive by 6 pm. The guides will be out of town at Dalton Post rigging the rafts. Please make your way to your hotel and plan to rendezvous with your guides in the lobby of the Westmark Klondike Inn at 8 pm for an orientation meeting. There will be a chance for last minute questions concerning clothing, gear, packing and other details.
Whitehorse is a great place to spend a few extra days. We will send you a visitor’s booklet. The historic sites are interesting and there are local day hikes, bike, canoe rentals, dog mushing kennels to visit as well as a National Historic Site and several museums. Renting a car for a day trip through the White Pass to Skagway Alaska is a popular outing.
Day 1 (L/D) KLUANE NATIONAL PARK
We will meet in the hotel lobby at 8am. Following breakfast (not covered) and will embark on the Alaska Highway. Along the way we will visit Kwaday Dan Kenji (translated: Long Ago Peoples Place). Here we will see examples of native shelters and traditional living skills used by First Nations people in the region for 10,000 years. Further on we will visit the Kluane National Park Interpretive Centre. (The bakery across the road is legendary for its goodies – keep your wallet handy.) We then head south into the Kluane Game Sanctuary, stopping at the ancient village of Klukshu. Stepping back in time we have an opportunity to view this tradional settlement. A small craft shop is open and purchases can be sent back on the bus for storage in our office. The next leg of our journey will take us through the stunning scenery of the Haines Pass. Our objective is the US Customs Post at Pleasant Camp where we clear US Customs before the trip. You may be tempted to have an afternoon nap during the drive, but the scenery will keep you riveted! Later in the afternoon we arrive at Dalton Post, now known as Shäwshe reflecting its heritage with the Champagne Aishihik Firtst Nations. Following a safety orientation we will load the rafts and push off. At this point the Tatshenshini is a narrow stream. Watched by Bald Eages we will travel a short distance before reaching the evening camp.
Day 2 (B/L/D) CANYON WHITEWATER
Another safety briefing will prepare us for the day. Before long, as we float deeper into the St. Elias Mountains (19,850’) we will encounter class 2–4 whitewater jubilantly welcoming us into this land without roads. This is the most continuous whitewater of the trip. As we pass through the narrow gorge of the Tatshenshini and out into the broader valley, we will be paddling out of the Yukon and entering British Columbia. In camp we will relax and dry out after an exciting day in the rapids.
Day 3 (B/L/D) BALD EAGLES
Today, in contrast to the swift rapids we have descended, the river meanders quietly but surely through the broad valley dotted with oxbow lakes. This region is home to moose, beaver, bald eagles, osprey and many species of waterfowl. Through out the day the many tributaries of the Tatshenshini cause it to swell until it has doubled in volume from our previous campsite. Here we are treated to our first view of the Alsek Range.
Day 4 (B/L/D) RIDGES & MOUNTAIN GOATS
Weather permitting, this is a hiking day. We will spend the time exploring the local area. A hike up to an open ridge offers everyone the chance to overlook the river and surrounding area. A short distance along this ridge offers an alpine meadow hosting an endless variety of wild flowers. Those who are more ad venturous can continue to climb another 1000 metres to the top for a spectacular view of some of the glaciers of the Alsek Range. This area is known as Goat Ridge and often, if we are lucky, we glimpse mountain goats feeding on the open tundra of the high plateau.
Day 5 & 6 (B/L/D) ST. ELIAS RANGE
We float past the Carmine peaks and the O’Connor River with great views of the far off St. Elias Range. Here we see signs of recent glacial action as the river picks up speed and becomes very braided. Moose, mountain goats, grizzly bears and bald eagles often frequent the wide gravel river banks.
Day 7 (B/L/D) GLACIERS ABOUND
Today we begin to see the many glaciers of the area. From our camp at Melt Creek, near the confluence of the Alsek River, we can count 27 different glaciers. Glorious views can be seen in all directions.
Day 8 (B/L/D) CONFLUENCE OF GREAT RIVERS
Now, as we speed along with the current, the voluminous Alsek River joins us from the north. So large is the confluence that it is difficult to know exactly where our route lies. The Noisy Range overlooks the confluence where the Tatshenshini disappears in the shadow of the looming Pentice Ice Caps. The surrounding peaks become higher and increasingly majestic, robed in glaciers. We stop at the base of Walker Glacier and its huge moraines. The hike onto the dramatic surface of the glacier is unforgettable. If you listen during the night you may hear ice falls – huge blocks roaring down from the heights where they have broken free.
Day 9 (B/L/D) ALSEK LAKE & BERGS
Back on the river we will pass the Novatak Glacier, nearly six miles wide where it sprawls towards the river.
As Mount Fairweather (15,300') appears around the bend, dwarfing the surrounding 7,000' peaks, a narrow sliver of a peninsula separates the river from Alsek Lake. Here the Alsek and Grand Plateau Glaciers occupy several miles of shore line where they “calve” huge slabs of ice into the lake issuing a thundering roar. The iceberg-studded lake is an enchanting place to camp.
Day 10 (B/L/D) GRAND PLATEAU GLACIER
Conditions permitting we will paddle and row toward the face of the glaciers. On an island between two arms of the Alsek Glacier, a “nunatak”, we will have lunch and behold the spectacle of ice blocks over 100' high, falling off into the icy waters.
Day 11 (B /L) DRY BAY, GULF OF ALASKA & FLIGHT BACK TO WHITEHORSE
The Alsek now passes through a transition from the tallest peaks on the continent to the broad flat Pacific coastline. In this valley we have a vertical distance of over 15,000’ between us and the highest peaks, an overall elevation difference greater than that of the Himalayas.
Back on the river we pull into shore at the fish packing sound of the local power generator is a beacon, even in the thickest Pacific fog. The only access is by air or boat.
In all but the worst weather, the bush plane will pick us up and fly us back through the Coast and St. Elias ranges to Whitehorse. Following showers, the group may want to gather at a local eating establishment (not included). Whitehorse is a lively town and it will not be difficult to find a way to enjoy the evening!
Day 12 HOMEWARD BOUND
After goodbyes and a last look around Whitehorse, we will head for home with a cargo of fond and spectacular memories.
Prerequisites: None, beginners are welcome and paddling is optional most of the time since our guides can navigate using oar boats. Experienced paddlers and beginners are welcome to participate by paddling anytime however.
Rates and Dates for Tatshenshini River
Accommodations, guided rafting, meals according to itinerary.
GST (VAT): 6% (12% for Canadian Resident)
GST (VAT) 6% (12% for Canadian Resident)
Transfer and Other Options:
Transfer from Whitehorse
Meeting: Westmark Klondike Inn, Whitehorse, YT
What To Bring:
Getting ready is part of the fun. This list is designed to simplify your packing. Please feel free to contact us with any items questions. We use chartered aircraft with limited load carrying capacity. Try to restrict your gear to an effective but lightweight set of outdoor clothing and equipment. Please limit your load to a total of 40 pounds. If you are in doubt about a certain item of clothing, bring it along and consult with the guides pre-trip. It can always be left behind if deemed unnecessary. We will arrange a place at the departure point for you to leave your travel clothing. Avoid bringing unnecessary valuables such as jewelry.
Tent – Mountain Hardware Trango 3, self-supporting dome tent - comfortable for 2 people with some remaining floor space for clothing etc. (single occupancy is $50). If you wish to bring your own, please contact us to approve the model and design.
Tent bag – we provide communal bags for transporting tents on the raft. Each bag holds 3 tents.
River bag – 115 litre, 30 gal – this is for your clothing and camp gear. When closed properly it provides waterproof protection. We have never encountered anyone who couldn’t fi t everything in this bag!
Day bag – 20 litre, 5 gal– a smaller bag for items you may wish to have access to during the day. Waterproof when closed properly. (note- this is not the same as the “day pack” listed below which you must bring for hiking).
Boot bag – a communal bag for carrying hiking boots during the day. When you stop for a hike, the guides will open this bag.
Cooking, eating utensils, table ware – All.
A. Camping Gear:
_____ sleeping bag - good to freezing or below
_____ sleeping pad - therma-rest or light air mattress are best
*the above items can be rented for $75.00/person per trip
B. Personal Clothing:
_____ t-shirts - three
_____ long-sleeved shirts – wool or synthetic
_____ sweater – polypro, fleece or wool
_____ warm jacket or vest – (e.g think puffy jacket, ski jacket etc.) an extra-thick fleece sweater and windbreaker could substitute
_____ windshell – should be big enough to go over a sweaters
_____ rain jacket (hooded) and pants - VERY IMPORTANT - must be waterproof and good quality – a poncho is NOT acceptable. (see “Comments on Gear – Foul weather clothing”)
_____ shorts - we suggest nylon ‘quick dry’ variety
_____ long pants - ‘quick dry’ nylon, synthetic blend or wool
_____ 1 extra pair of warm pile or wool pants - optional
_____ long underwear (not optional) – tops and bottoms – polypro is best (avoid cotton). There are various weights: light, medium or expedition Pick what is most comfortable for you, keeping in mind that you can layer your clothing.
_____ socks – several pair of wool are best
_____ hat – that can be tied on and with a brim that can protect you from the sun & rain (this is the land of the midnight sun!)
_____ toque (wool hat)
_____ swim suit
_____ running shoes, sport sandals, or equivalent - for camp wear
_____ hiking boots - lightweight
_____ rubber boots with insoles in the bottom – for wearing in raft and voyageur canoe (see Comments on Gear – Footwear)
_____ neoprene booties - with soles or overshoes – for two person canoe expeditions (see Comments on Gear – Footwear).
_____ glasses, contacts (spares), sunglasses – string to tie on
_____ personal toiletry items - soap, towel, shaving gear,
tooth brush, skin cream (to avoid severe drying of hands), etc. Consider a “camp towel” synthetic model. Some bring “baby wipes” for hygiene (we do provide an excellent hand washing system in camp)
_____ sunscreen lotion – with effective sun block – remember: land of the midnight sun!
_____ day pack -capable of holding rain gear, lunch, camera, etc. on hikes
_____ personal medications (bring in “carry-on” – also consider two sets and giving one to the Trip Leader for safe keeping)
_____ insect repellent & bug jacket. We strongly suggest that you bring a bug jacket, they are light weight and pack easily. We do sell “The Original Bug Shirt” see our website or call us for details.
_____ whistle – to attach to your personal flotation device (PFD)
_____ heavy duty garbage bags (U.S. = trash bag) - as insurance to keep your things dry in your waterproof bags
_____ plastic water bottle - for day hikes Must be 1 litre or greater
_____ knife, matches and/or lighter (in a waterproof container), compass if you wish, light cord for clothes line
_____ rubber dish gloves for cold water protection if necessary
_____ minor First Aid items – bandaids, pain relievers. We carry large expedition First Aid kits
_____ small musical instrument if you wish
_____ Passport and Visa (Your responsibility to determine if a Visa is required).
_____ Small nylon “draw string” organizing bags to keep clothing sorted in your pack
_____ camera and plenty of film - we recommend a waterproof box to protect it
_____ fishing rod and equipment (collapsible please). Check out more About Fishing!
_____ reading and/or writing materials (we bring a “library” with some field guides and trip specific literature)
_____ binoculars - a must for wildlife watching
_____ flashlight - only needed on August trips.
_____ gloves or mitts - for cold days (a must on the Tat/Alsek or any of our tundra trips!)
_____ A favourite alcoholic beverage – in a shatterproof container e.g. naglene bottle
_____ helmet (mandatory for three week whitewater from the Moose Ponds)
_____ Trekking poles - Collapsible walking stick(s)- An excellent asset for your knees & balance while hiking. Use them like ski poles.
_____ tent (we do provide them, but you may feel more comfortable with your own)
_____Wet suit or dry suit: Consider it for the Tatshenshini. We provide wet suits for rent on all rivers of Grade III. Wetsuits rentals must be confirmed 90 days prior to trip departure. If you are the type that cools easily, you should consider a wet suit for any trip – 3mm neoprene, short or long legs; sleeveless preferred.
We rent the following items: (Fees are per person/item, per trip.)
Wet suits $75.00 Cdn
Pelican professional water proof camera case $35.00 Cdn
Sleeping bag/therma rest combination $75.00 Cdn
Solar battery charger (your device must have a male cigarette lighter piece - not an invertor) $50.00 Cdn
To ensure we can supply your rental needs, please place your order before June.