For the long 4th of July 2003 weekend Todd Kelsey invited me on a raft trip down the Tana River. A rafting trip with Todd Kelsey is the polar opposite of my usual mountaineering experience. For starters, since I cannot row I usually sit on the raft and just look around. Second lack of food is never an issue - breakfast is a full meal, lunch is a full stop with sandwiches and beer and dinner is a 2 - 3 course feast along with a scrumptious dessert. Drinks vary from canned beer to gin and tonics (with ice!).
We took 4 days to float the Tana River. We flew out of Chitina and landed about 5 miles upstream from the canyon where we made camp below huge sand dunes. The next day we explored the sand dunes in the morning and that afternoon floated through the canyon which was about 5 miles up HUGE Class IV whitewater. I've never seen anything like that and our 3 raft captains rowed through the giant swells and around deep swirling pools with ease.
That night we camped on a sandy beach and set up a hot tub. Yes - a hot tub. Sam (who once told me he "loves hot water") brought along his home made hot tub. Sam uses a spiral of copper pipe that is placed over a fire. The tubing has a piece of garden hose attached to each end. One end dumps into the tub, the other goes to a pump and the pump has a short piece of hose to the tub. A motorcycle battery (charged by a solar panel by day) is attached to a pump. To get started you fill the kiddy pool with water from the river, turn on the pump so the water circulates through the tubing over the fire then dumps into the pool (another hose draws the water out of the tub and back through the tubing). One then sits around for 3 hours till it's hot. After that it's party time!
We set up the hot tub and ate dinner and afterwards it was warm enough to sit in the tub, drink gin and tonics and watch the July 4th fireworks that we brought along.
The next day we floated about 30 miles downriver where we made camp on yet another sandy beach; and after that we had a long day where we floated all the way out to the Chitina / Copper junction where we rowed across the Copper and took out a O'Brien Creek.
This was the closest I have ever come to a beach vacation and I think I could get used to it!
|| Tana River
Description: Note - this map is not entirely accurate. If you want detailed information on the Tana River contact Todd Kelsey.
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