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Highly sought after by Alaska river runners, "The Alaska River Guide" is the premier guide to Alaskan paddling. Karen Jettmar’s insightful narrative combined with detailed river maps, photographs, and crucial at-a-glance information provides readers with the knowledge they need to plan a successful Alaska river trip. Details such as cautions to river hazards, prime paddling season, directions to river access points, and summaries of fish and wildlife encountered round out this one-of-a-kind guide.
The rich tapestry of Alaska is threaded together by 365,000 miles of waterways, from cascading mountain streams to meandering valley rivers, from the meltwaters of glaciers to broad rivers that empty into the sea. These waterways run deep in the fabric of Alaskan life, providing means of communication, nutrition, and transport for plants, animals, and people.
This book profiles a wide variety of rivers from all over Alaska, concentrating mainly on trips for intermediate boaters — those who have run Class I and II rivers with proficiency and who possess good wilderness camping skills. Some are good day trips; others involve major expedition planning. Most of the river trips described here are not high-speed experiences requiring helmets, wet suits, and sleek poly playboats — but several are. Some of the rivers are easily accessible by road and offer exciting whitewater runs (Gulkana River, Nenana River, Eagle River). On many of the rivers you can join tours, whether for an hour or for a month. The author looks at rivers as avenues to fine wilderness country and at boats as transportation rather than tools for surviving Class IV rapids.
In writing this guidebook the author tried to not steal away the elements of surprise and adventure that people seek on a wilderness trip. Alaska’s remoteness and size still offer plenty of both. The goal is to provide enough information to help you prepare for a trip, without spoiling your sense of discovery. At the same time, writing about an area inherently invites people to it and possibly makes it more popular. None of the rivers described in this guide is unknown, and some are already quite popular. The agencies that manage river areas can provide additional information on the places you plan to visit. (There’s a listing of land managers at the back of this book.)
River ratings and other information in this book provide guidance, but keep in mind that rivers are dynamic: they swell with snowmelt and rain, and they change course over time. For a particular river, use your best judgment in determining whether you have the boating and wilderness skills required. Factor in the river’s remoteness and coldness, and the difficulty of being rescued, and then decide on the river for you.
"This is dream material. Imagine canoeing the North Fork of the Koyukuk. You can put in near Mount Doonerak...and drift through the Gates of the Arctic National Park. "The Alaska River Guide" will make you want to do it."
— Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
"This book, by Karen Jettmar, will help to preserve Alaska’s precious natural heritage."
— President Jimmy Carter