Gallery: Noatak

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This is the gallery of photos from a canoe trip down the Noatak river in Alaska, done in July and August of 1996. I have also put my journel from the trip on line, with photos, and made it available at:

Noatak Trip Journel

I think that including the narative makes it more interesting than just looking at these pictures.

Pre-trip preparations

Arrival at the Noatak headwaters.

Hiking in Alaska

After a couple days we took off for a three or four day hike from our drop off point into the mountains to the north east. We hoped to make it to the ridge crest and over look the land further north east. We didn't make it. Hiking in Alaska turned out to be harder than anticipated...we didn't make it to the crest. Also, this is when the rain really started.

The early days on the river.

The upper part of the river was fairly narrow (at least until the rain brought it up 3+ feet), in a relatively narrow valley. Our first several days on the river we would get tired after 4 hours of being in the canoes. With the river at flood state there were rapids at most bends, some significant. Near the end of this section of the rive we rolled both canoes in one day (clear weather fortunately).

The middle of our time on the river.

Most of our cameras got wet and stopped working soon after rolling the canoes. Andrew was able to keep his camera dry but the battery, when was low at the start of the trip, got so weak that for the remainder of the trip it would only work in warm, sunny weather. In this portion of the river the mountains set back 10 to 30 miles and we were moving through open tundra. We started regularly doing 8 hour days, covering 20 to 30 land miles.

End of the river.

By now we are in a good rhythm and able to do long days, sometimes paddling hard into the wind. Despite what the pictures show, the weather has not really improved. We get a few clear days with several cold wet days. Food is limited, but OK thanks to early conservation. But we are still short a couple dinners.

By now we have figured out that the best place to camp is at the confluence of a tributary river. The Noatak, in flood, carries a lot of silt, but the tributaries flow clear and beautiful from remote mountain ranges that beckon us to return some day. After a couple particularly hard days we come to the exceptionally beautiful Kugururok river and camp there. Here there is enough clear flowing water that we are able to catch several large fish and have such a meal. Life is so great here that we elect to spend an extra day.

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Page last modified:  Sep 05 19:07 2010  by  Tom Unger