Kayaking the Tatshenshini

May 5, 2004
Outside Magazine
Week of December 12-18, 1996
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Kayaking the Tatshenshini
Question: Has anyone run the Tatshenshini River in Alaska in an inflatable kayak? If so, can you send me what info you have available?

Ken Fowler
Chico, CA
[email protected]

It's easy to see why the Tatshenshini is becoming the fashionable river to run
Adventure Adviser: There are two main obstacles you need to be aware of if you're thinking of running the Tatshenshini in an inflatable kayak. First of all, the 160-mile stretch of glacier-fed river from Dalton Post to Dry Bay on the Gulf of Alaska will take you a good 10 days at least, which means you'll need plenty of food, supplies, and gear--a hefty load of provisions that you'll be hard-pressed to store in a single kayak without the help of a support raft.

Secondly, while half of the river is fast-moving, kayak-friendly Class III rapids, the other half is shoulder-straining flatwater plagued by nightmarish, up-river winds. If you're not alarmed by the prospect of paddling for a good 80 miles with a boat full of gear, then the Tatshenshini by kayak is the trip for you.

A few things to keep in mind: All private groups must mail away for a river permit before putting in. And since the Tat is fast becoming the fashionable Alaska river to run, you need to put your request in early if you're on a tight schedule; otherwise, be prepared to pick alternate dates. Permits cost $25 and can be obtained by writing to Glacier Bay National Park, Yakutat Office, P.O. Box 137, Yakutat, Alaska 99689.

If you opt for a raft-supported kayak trip, Stan Boor in Haines will set you up with a rental raft and he'll also arrange for a shuttle to the put-in at Dalton Post in the Yukon, at Mile 150 on the Haines Highway (907-766-3307). As for getting out, the only way is by float plane. Call L.A.B. Flying Service at 907-766-2222 to schedule a pick-up. For more details, call Glacier Bay National Park at 907-784-3295 or their river information line at 907-784-3370.

Your other option, of course, is to sign on with Alaska Discovery's guided 10-day trip via oar- and paddle-raft. Trips depart out of Haines from June through early September and cost $2,100 per person, not including airfare; call 800-586-1911 for more details.

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