Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

Postby kevin_t » Tue Aug 25, 2015 8:13 am

I will update this with photos over the next few days. The basic trip was to float the Atigun / Sag river on a float Caribou hunt for most of us, while a couple of residents had Dall Sheep tags as well. The Atigun / Sag is well known for being a serious rafting trip vs a casual float. The trip itself was about 6 days / 45 miles and we had almost every sort of weather imaginable, with a few days of cold rain, a day of sloppy snow an finally a day or day and half of partly sunny.

We did not find any Caribou, but did find many sheds, some very impressive and we saw a Grizzly and a Musk Ox.

Being from the lower 48, the amount of visible light was amazing. I never used my headlamp the complete trip, and honestly it was never really dark. It wasn ot really a problem sleeping, but was a little different.

I will update with photos / and more thoughts and well as gear observations over the next few days.
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Re: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

Postby kevin_t » Tue Aug 25, 2015 8:14 am

A few miles in from the put in. I used an EVO 4800 with an Olive X42 pack bag , standard roll top without a side zipper.

The pack bag did pretty well in regards to water, nearly as well as most dry sacks. However the suspension did get wet. I would consider , wrapping the pack in a large trash bag to keep the suspension more dry

Image



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Re: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

Postby kevin_t » Tue Aug 25, 2015 8:17 am

Image

At the put in, still dry :)


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Re: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

Postby kevin_t » Tue Aug 25, 2015 11:16 am

Image

Photo courtesy of Barry Whitehill


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Re: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

Postby kevin_t » Tue Aug 25, 2015 12:28 pm

Camp Location Day One is at the bend
Image

Some hiking from camp and views. We saw several Dall Sheep nearby
Image


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Re: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

Postby kevin_t » Tue Aug 25, 2015 12:30 pm

Day 2 was rough for an inexperienced paddler. It was trial by fire with a lot of rocks and some class 4 areas.
Image

Camp location for the next few days which were mostly constant rain


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Re: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

Postby kevin_t » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:00 pm

What entails next is a gear discussion, or at least my thoughts. Consider this pretty transparent, as this post will be mostly what I share with others at Seek Outside.

First , it's important to distinguish more generalized gear choices, and more specialized items. I will use these to differentiate a bit on usage. In some instances, I used what was more "generalized" gear, and perhaps it worked well, but I could see something more specialized working better.

Backpack: I used an EVO 4800 in X42 Olive, no side zip. It worked well and I was very happy with it's performance, however for Alaska / Arctic I don't think anyone would argue about a 6300 bag being a solid choice as well. The pack bag, without the zip was pretty waterproof, as waterproof as most of the dry bags , or at least very close. The suspension could / would get wet, and if I were to do a similar trip again, I may consider putting the pack in a large trash bag while rafting to protect the suspension. Full Disclosure: I had an XPAC belt without mesh. The mesh belt is probably a little more popular than the non mesh, but in this case I was glad I had non mesh. I could have used a Unaweep version as well, and it would have been fine.

Sleeping Bag: Not everyone on the trip had a functional sleep system, some did and some did not. A frequent questions was "how did you sleep". I used our late season throwback bag with the waterproof membrane and was very pleased. It did not seem to get wet or loose any noticeable loft. I was warm. Sure, I could save a few ounces, and be a lot lighter in the wallet but I was happy with the performance. I often threw an extra pair of socks or clothing in the bag to dry at night. The only time I was actually cold was when I got sweaty and went to bed at midnight with temps below freezing and it took a bit of time to warm up. That was my mistake, I should have washed off a bit and maybe changed clothes , but that didn't sound attractive at night. It was nice , knowing I had a relatively warm and dry place to hang out.

Sleeping Pad: Synmat hyperlight / exped . It worked well in combination with a Zrest. I could have taken a torso prolite and had less fuss, but given up a little comfort.

Tent: I took a Cimarron. It was a good / general choice. It was used for sleeping, as a hot tent for a couple days, and pitched as sort of a tarp one other time when there was not a great deal of space to pitch (or I didn't want to look around for another place). However , that being said, a BCS2 would not have been a bad choice (even though I often prefer some of our other tents) . Here is why it would not have been a bad choice , first the ability to stand up and change clothes in really wet weather, second, the ability to separate it into a tarp, if space was limited. However, if I was to do a similar trip, with expected similar conditions, I probably would have taken a BT2 and BT nest to sleep in, and a separate hot tent / hang out tent / possibly cook tent or perhaps even a specialized purpose built tarp. The BT2 would have allowed me to pitch in most locations and a separate hot tent would have worked well for the group. At one point, when the group decided drying gear was important the Cimarron was really loaded to the top with willow (a pine tree would have certainly been nice). I could have used some different tent stakes or had a different anchor strategy for any large tent. I had the Cimarron tied to rocks a couple times. In summary, I think the Cimarron was an excellent general choice, but with a little time, there could have been a better overall choice.

Personal items: I would have loved a pair of neoprene paddling gloves. I instead repurposed an extra pair of neoprene socks. Boots, were pretty much useless. I did have some Tevas but honestly , I'm not a big open shoe person. I might have been better off going the canyon type route of some mesh trail runners or the like. If I would have taken an extra puffy vest I would have used it, but it wasn't required. Most of my other gear choices worked well. Overall, I don't think staying dry is really effective in this case. It is a luxury , and it's more important to focus on manageable cold weather wetness if that makes sense. I could have taken a better fire kit. That willow can be a pain to get going when it's been rained or snowed on for a few days.

Water Filtration : I used the Rapid Pure setup in two modes, one in the bottle (worked great) and another as a gravity system. The gravity system , sort of required it to be primed to get water in the filter, after that it worked well and fast. No real complaints and the bottle did freeze but continued to work once thawed.

Group items: We did use a DST as part of camp kitchen. It worked well, but IMO a couple small things could have been done to work better , however another manufacturers tarp on the trip sis suffer some damage as the fabric just wasn't really up to it.

Most other items worked well. I did experience an unexpected tear in the shell of a jacket, but everything else worked reasonably well.
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Re: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

Postby kevin_t » Tue Aug 25, 2015 1:15 pm

Please feel free to discuss or ask any questions . Here are a few more photos
Camp 3
Image
Image

Most of the boats , some were repurposed as seats under the kitchen
Image


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Re: Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

Postby Camber » Thu Aug 27, 2015 4:55 am

Really appreciate you sharing the photos and your thoughts on gear, especially the honestly with regards to limitations and high points of things given the circumstances
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Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Rafting Trip

Postby AK Troutbum » Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:34 am

You got some beautiful photos there Kevin. That's some pretty incredible country up there, eh? I'm glad you got a chance to experience that, not too many folks outside of Alaska do, Hell, not too many residents do.. Sorry to hear that you weren't able to kill any bou, but that's just hunting I guess. What did you think of the Aire Travelers? I've been tossing around the idea of getting one.


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