| Chitina River - 3 Days |
Loading our rafts a few hundred yards from the terminus of the Kennicott Glacier, we slide below the cable tram that accesses McCarthy, and directly into the boiling rapids of Class III whitewater. The waves crash around us for the next 40 minutes, with a few calm stretches in between allowing us to silently drink in the views of the Stairway Icefall, Kennicott Glacier, and the verdant peaks of Bonanza Ridge as we glide away. The Kennicott gives way to the Nizina, which at first is broad and inviting, but quickly narrows into a rock walled channel. We careen around sharp turns avoiding whirlpools and undercuts as we float beneath towering cliffs and past beautiful sandy beaches. The final two days of our journey are spent rolling calmly on the immense Chitina River, past the salmon grounds of the Tebay, the bluffs of the Lakina, and the views of regal Mt. Blackburn, tallest of the Wrangells.
Mountains to the Sea - The Copper River Expedition - 13 Days
The Copper River Expedition is more than a raft trip, it is a true journey that follows the waters of the Wrangells from their icy source to their embrace with the salt laden waters of the Pacific Ocean. Mt. Blackburn (16,390 ft.) and its jagged sisters emblazon the horizon less than two dozen miles away from the put-in. We float the Kennicott, Nizina, and Chitina (as described above), and finally bisect the seemingly impenetrable Coastal Range carried by the magnificent Copper River. Time slows, we glide past deep spruce forests, and jagged, glacier studded peaks. We take time and walk wooded creek bottoms and explore the fantastic formations alongside the huge Miles Glacier. Further down the Copper River, calving ice free-falls hundreds of feet into the river as we skirt the Childs Glacier. We end by silently floating through the Copper River Delta to join the tumultuous waters of the Gulf of Alaska near the fishing village of Cordova.
Headwaters of the Chitina - 6 days
The Chitina River is born from the glaciers flanking the broad slopes of Mt. Logan (at 19,850 feet the second highest mountain in North America), the largest single mountain massive on earth. Our expedition starts on a small airstrip, carved from the terminal moraines of the Chitina Glacier. The scenery is rich. The river provides an undisturbed float down a huge, braided, glacial river. The upper Chitina is an ageless path between the two large mountain ranges - the Wrangell and St. Elias Mountains.