The West Fork

    An extraordinary float trip. Paddle the West Fork. Explore the Wild.


    • 3 days packrafting
    • Combine with 7 Pass Backpacking
    • Easy flatwater paddle
    • Visit Tana Glacier
    • Transport to McCarthy
    • 2 nights in McCarthy
    • Camping, hiking and packrafting

    Finally. It’s here.

    How long have I been wanting to add this trip to our portfolio?

    It seems like forever ago that we first started chatting about putting this trip together.

    Finally. It’s here.

    How long have I been wanting to add this trip to our portfolio?

    It seems like forever ago that we first started chatting about putting this trip together.

    Hike it. Paddle it.

    Hike and Paddle it.

    This is a nice little paddle trip, perfect for the novice packrafter who would like to experience some wild and remote Alaska packrafting without the risk of crazy sketchy whitewater.

    We paddle through one of the most scenic little valleys in the state, beginning at the edges of Bremner Glacier and making our way eastward to the Tana River.

    Packrafting only

    Fly in from McCarthy, AK to our drop off location near the toe of Bremner Glacier. We’ll camp here a night and hike up to the glacier, exploring the ice and surrounding area. It’s a pretty amazing region.

    The packraft is a mild-moderate float trip, with no real challenging whitewater to deal with.

    We’ll take 2 days to paddle to the Tana River, camp near the confluence and and spend an afternoon going up to Tana Glacier and checking out that area.

    Then a short half day down to our take-out destination, where we meet our air taxi for the return flight to McCarthy.

    Backpacking Combination

    From Iceberg Lake ~ We’ll fly in to Iceberg Lake and spend 3 days backpacking down to the West Fork. Its mostly an easy backpack, but involves some glacier travel and backpacking over a moraine. You’re carrying your backpacking gear, camping and packrafting gear, so it’s not a light load. But we don’t have any huge ascents or anything to hike either.

    From Bremner Mines ~ We’ll fly in to Bremner and spend 4 days backpacking to the West Fork. This one’s a bit more challenging hiking, involves a couple of climbs and alpine passes to get through, so it’s more in the moderate-strenuous. Four days is plenty of time to get to the river though, so we’re not pushed for time.

    • In a word, easy.

      This is a flat trip. Not a whitewater adventure.

      Once we hit the Tana River, we’ll have a little bit faster and stronger water but nothing too dodgy or troublesome. It’s a short run down from the confluence to our takeout.

      The primary float section, on the West Fork, is a gentle packraft trip with no challenging whitewater to deal with.

    • We’ll outfit the boat, the equipment for that, including everything from your dry bags to your PFD and booties and gloves.

      You’ll need your tent and sleeping gear, and hiking gear. That will depend on exactly what we schedule we configure for your trip.

    • We have a few ways we can run this.

      Fly in to the West Fork at the toe of the Bremner and packraft from there. Maybe a day or 2 day hiking before we start floating.

      Fly in to Iceberg Lake and backpack to the West Fork, then paddle from there. Minimum 3 days backpacking time.

      Fly in to Bremner Mines and backpack to the West Fork and paddle from there. Minimum 4 days backpacking time.

      For either of those backpacking options, we can either carry all gear, including packrafts, for the hike, or we can have the air taxi shuttle the packrafts to the put-in for us. We’d meet the air taxi at the West Fork and pick up the gear there. This would add $500 to the trip (for the flight) but save you an approx 10lbs (4Kg) of stuff to carry.

    • McCarthy, AK is such a cool place. You’ll love it.

      Typically we’ll stay across the river from the small town of McCarthy in a small cabin or lodge. The lodge backs against Kennicott Glacier. The awesome Stairway Icefall sits just beyond. A 7000′ vertical wall of ice.

      So beyond the astonishing mountain views, McCarthy is a small rustic town in the heart of Wrangell – St. Elias National Park. Originally a feeder town to the nearby Kennicott Copper Mines, McCarthy is now the hub of the park.

      It’s a short 1/2 mile walk into town from Brad’s Lodge (Kennicott Glacier Cabins). We walk because the public bridge across the Kennicott River is a small bridge for foot traffic only. The vehicle will stay on the lodge side of the river.

      A 10 minute walk will pretty much cover the entire town. There are a couple of small air taxi services, a hotel and hostel, a bar/restaurant, a souvenir store and another newer eatery/bar called the Potato. Good food, fun folks, and a wonderful charming environment.

      A 5 mile jaunt up the road from McCarthy is Kennicott (there is a shuttle service available and included to get us up and back; or walk the wagon trail). In Kennicott you’re free to wander the town and look at the historic mill building (schedules private tours available), poke your head in the door of the various establishments (guide services, restaurant/lodge, stores, the National Park Service Visitor Center, etc).

      Just remember a lot of the buildings ARE private residences so don’t intrude.

      A couple of hiking trails out of Kennicott can take you out to the Kennicott Glacier or up to the old mines (Bonanza, Jumbo and Erie).

      An afternoon in Kennicott is a ton of fun and a great way to wind down after your backcountry expedition.

    • Expeditions Alaska will outfit your packrafting trip. That includes packraft, spray skirt and boat deck, dry suit or splash wear (trip dependent), neoprene paddling gloves and booties. Whitewater trips include helmets. All paddlers are provided with an approved PFD (Personal Flotation Device).

      Dry bags are included for you as well.

      Your guide will also carry a tow strap, throw bag and line, plus the usual backcountry safety equipment of sat phones, first aid kits, etc.

      If you have your own equipment, you’re welcome to use that instead. Let’s talk about it first and make sure your rig is appropriate for this trip.

    • Very briefly

      Day 1 – We pick you up and drive to McCarthy, overnight there, and fly in to the backcountry the next morning. … hike … 2nd Last day – We fly back to McCarthy, overnight there.

      Last Day – We take you back to Anchorage and drop you at your hotel.

      For a much more comprehensive outline and schedule of this, see this page

    • We all do. Questions are good. That’s how we learn. Either give me a call or send me an email and we’ll go through them.

      I also send out a comprehensive Trip Information Packet upon your reservation and that will usually answer your questions.

      Cheers.

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