Preparing for Your Trip

 

Weather

The months of June and July are normally our best weather months in Alaska. August and September are variable. The good weather can extend through August, but very often August is when the autumn rains begin. In the Arctic this means snow. September is typically a rainy month with some beautiful Indian Summer days mixed in. Temperatures in August are mild and sunshine can be expected about half the time - less as you approach the coast. By September the days will be cooler with a potential for frost in the mornings. You must expect rain and cool weather at any time – even in June and July.  Temperatures August snowfall in the Brooks Range. will usually range  from a high of 70 deg F (although it can feel like 95 on a sunny windless day) to a low of 35. In the Arctic the temperature will range from 60 deg F to a low of 25. When it rains it usually sets in for a few days and will produce a constant, soaking drizzle with wind and cool temperatures.  In the Arctic it can snow at any time of the year. You must be prepared for both extremes.

 

 

 

Rainbow after a summer shower in the Talkeetna Mountains.

 

 

 

 

Insects

Mosquitoes and biting flies are a very serious problem in Alaska. If you are not prepared for them your experience can be diminished. By late August and early September, Mosquito ! the mosquitoes have died down a bit but the flies will be a serious nuisance. Bring plenty of bug protection.  You should have at least 1 bottle of 100% DEET and a headnet. I recommend a mesh “bug jacket” that is soaked in DEET. They are not expensive (less than $40) and more convenient than slathering DEET oil all day.

 

These lake trout fishers use head nets  to avoid irritating insects.

Pre-Trip Conditioning

It goes without saying that travel in one of the most remote regions of North America will require all participants to be in good health and in good physical condition. Keep in mind that in case of a medical emergency, help may be many days away. In addition, participants should have a flexible state of mind to face the often unfamiliar and unexpected conditions we may encounter. Experience is not required. We must cover a certain number of river miles each day so the physical condition and energy level of the group will determine how long we must travel each day before we camp at night. Each participant is expected to help their boat team paddle the raft down rive. Long days spent paddling in sometimes very cold conditions can be quite demanding.

River Equipment Lists

Personal Gear

All clothing, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad should fit into 1 river bag that I will provide. All clothing and equipment should be chosen by the following criteria:

high quality - proven design and material

lightweight

comfortable

fast drying - minimum water absorbency and retention

wind resistant - at least some items

 

Intense rainbows are common after rain showers in Alaska.

Raingear

Although light weight raingear such as Gore Tex is more comfortable and nice for windy days or hiking, an absolutely waterproof rainsuit will make those wet days sitting in camp or on the raft or kayaks much more tolerable. (Nneoprene chest waders, although not required,  are nice to have for just this reason). Raingear should be loose fitting for good ventilation of moisture. Modern water resistant and breathable laminates such or Gore-Tex or Paclite may be acceptable. Consider treating your gear with a waterproofing spray or a “wash-in” water proofing solution such as Nikwax. The Nikwax lasts longer.

rain jacket - no tight elastic closures around sleeves; rubberized Helly Hansen or Kokatat Paddling Jacket or rain skins works well in the boat. Laminates work well for hiking.

rain pants - full length; rubberized Helly Hansen or REI type for in the boat or neoprene chest waders; laminates for hiking

rain hat - Sou'wester or Seattle Sombrero type

felt insoles - for use inside hip waders - the key to warm, dry feet

 

 

Helmut uses a waterproof Barber Jacket for a rainy day on a river in Western Alaska.

 

 

 

 

Clothing

socks - many pairs, warm material, wool and synthetic

long underwear - 1 set of medium or heavyweight capilene or polypro

hat - wool or pile stocking cap

gloves - 2 pairs of warm pile or wool gloves. (I will provide commercial fishing rubber gloves to be worn over these)

T-shirt

bandana

shirts - light and warm, easy drying

pants -  fast drying; pile or other synthetic is best; wool is acceptable.

wind shell - lightweight nylon. (optional but a good idea)

jackets – medium to heavyweight poly or down, windproof (or additional wind jacket)

vest - down or poly (optional)

shorts - one comfortable pair

light weight shoes for camp and tent or hiking boots

Hip waders, rubber knee boots or chest waders (neoprene recommended for Arctic or late summer trips)

These hikers on the Arctic tundra are well prepared for all types of weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Equipment

sleeping bag - preferably synthetic, warm to 40 deg F (20 deg for Arctic trips)

daypack or small backpack

sunscreen - factor 15 or better

pocket knife

personal items - toilet kit, spare glasses, prescriptions

sun glasses

baby wipes

small foam pad (for sitting on when hiking)

mosquito repellant - 100% DEET such as Muskol or Ben's 100

head net or mosquito helmet

"bug jacket" - a repellant impregnated mesh jacket (optional but highly recommended)

fishing gear

cameras

binoculars

book (to pass the time if we are weathered in)

 

Group Equipment – provided for you

raft and raft equipment

stove and cooking utensils

eating utensils

rifle or shotgun

dry bag - large waterproof river bag with shoulder straps for portaging. 1 per person.

tents - 3 person tent for each two guests (as available)

rain tarps and other camp equipment

sleeping pads

 

Michael rowing through rapid on Lake Creek in South Central Alaska. Rafts and inflatable canoes and kayaks are used on our river trips.