Tatshenshini River Expedition

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The following initials indicate the meals included each day: Breakfast = B | Lunch = L | Dinner = D

    Your journey north from your home will be a refreshing departure. You will fly over the largest expanse of wilderness in the world with stunning views on cloudless days, pass through quieter and friendlier airports, meet friendlier and less harried service personnel and generally begin to immerse yourself in the wilderness experience that is about to unfold.

    The scheduled flights arrive in Whitehorse throughout the day. Aim to arrive by 6 pm. The guides will be out of town at Dalton Post rigging the rafts. Please make your way to your hotel and plan to rendezvous with your guides in the lobby of the Westmark Klondike Inn at 8 pm for an orientation meeting. There will be a chance for last minute questions concerning clothing, gear, packing and other details.

    Whitehorse is a great place to spend a few extra days. We will send you a visitor’s booklet. The historic sites are interesting and there are local day hikes, bike, canoe rentals, dog mushing kennels to visit as well as a National Historic Site and several museums. Renting a car for a day trip through the White Pass to Skagway Alaska is a popular outing.
    We will meet in the hotel lobby at 8am. Following breakfast (not covered) and will embark on the Alaska Highway. Along the way we will visit Kwaday Dan Kenji (translated: Long Ago Peoples Place). Here we will see examples of native shelters and traditional living skills used by First Nations people in the region for 10,000 years. Further on we will visit the Kluane National Park Interpretive Centre. (The bakery across the road is legendary for its goodies – keep your wallet handy.) We then head south into the Kluane Game Sanctuary, stopping at the ancient village of Klukshu. Stepping back in time we have an opportunity to view this tradional settlement. A small craft shop is open and purchases can be sent back on the bus for storage in our office. The next leg of our journey will take us through the stunning scenery of the Haines Pass. Our objective is the US Customs Post at Pleasant Camp where we clear US Customs before the trip. You may be tempted to have an afternoon nap during the drive, but the scenery will keep you riveted! Later in the afternoon we arrive at Dalton Post, now known as Shäwshe reflecting its heritage with the Champagne Aishihik Firtst Nations. Following a safety orientation we will load the rafts and push off. At this point the Tatshenshini is a narrow stream. Watched by Bald Eages we will travel a short distance before reaching the evening camp.
    Another safety briefing will prepare us for the day. Before long, as we float deeper into the St. Elias Mountains (19,850’) we will encounter class 2–4 whitewater jubilantly welcoming us into this land without roads. This is the most continuous whitewater of the trip. As we pass through the narrow gorge of the Tatshenshini and out into the broader valley, we will be paddling out of the Yukon and entering British Columbia. In camp we will relax and dry out after an exciting day in the rapids.
  • Day 3 (B/L/D) BALD EAGLES
    Today, in contrast to the swift rapids we have descended, the river meanders quietly but surely through the broad valley dotted with oxbow lakes. This region is home to moose, beaver, bald eagles, osprey and many species of waterfowl. Through out the day the many tributaries of the Tatshenshini cause it to swell until it has doubled in volume from our previous campsite. Here we are treated to our first view of the Alsek Range.
    Weather permitting, this is a hiking day. We will spend the time exploring the local area. A hike up to an open ridge offers everyone the chance to overlook the river and surrounding area. A short distance along this ridge offers an alpine meadow hosting an endless variety of wild flowers. Those who are more ad venturous can continue to climb another 1000 metres to the top for a spectacular view of some of the glaciers of the Alsek Range. This area is known as Goat Ridge and often, if we are lucky, we glimpse mountain goats feeding on the open tundra of the high plateau.
  • Day 5 & 6 (B/L/D) ST. ELIAS RANGE
    We float past the Carmine peaks and the O’Connor River with great views of the far off St. Elias Range. Here we see signs of recent glacial action as the river picks up speed and becomes very braided. Moose, mountain goats, grizzly bears and bald eagles often frequent the wide gravel river banks.
    Today we begin to see the many glaciers of the area. From our camp at Melt Creek, near the confluence of the Alsek River, we can count 27 different glaciers. Glorious views can be seen in all directions.
    Now, as we speed along with the current, the voluminous Alsek River joins us from the north. So large is the confluence that it is difficult to know exactly where our route lies. The Noisy Range overlooks the confluence where the Tatshenshini disappears in the shadow of the looming Pentice Ice Caps. The surrounding peaks become higher and increasingly majestic, robed in glaciers. We stop at the base of Walker Glacier and its huge moraines. The hike onto the dramatic surface of the glacier is unforgettable. If you listen during the night you may hear ice falls – huge blocks roaring down from the heights where they have broken free.
  • Day 9 (B/L/D) ALSEK LAKE & BERGS
    Back on the river we will pass the Novatak Glacier, nearly six miles wide where it sprawls towards the river.As Mount Fairweather (15,300') appears around the bend, dwarfing the surrounding 7,000' peaks, a narrow sliver of a peninsula separates the river from Alsek Lake. Here the Alsek and Grand Plateau Glaciers occupy several miles of shore line where they “calve” huge slabs of ice into the lake issuing a thundering roar. The iceberg-studded lake is an enchanting place to camp.
    Conditions permitting we will paddle and row toward the face of the glaciers. On an island between two arms of the Alsek Glacier, a “nunatak”, we will have lunch and behold the spectacle of ice blocks over 100' high, falling off into the icy waters.
    The Alsek now passes through a transition from the tallest peaks on the continent to the broad flat Pacific coastline. In this valley we have a vertical distance of over 15,000’ between us and the highest peaks, an overall elevation difference greater than that of the Himalayas. Back on the river we pull into shore at the fish packing sound of the local power generator is a beacon, even in the thickest Pacific fog. The only access is by air or boat. In all but the worst weather, the bush plane will pick us up and fly us back through the Coast and St. Elias ranges to Whitehorse. Following showers, the group may want to gather at a local eating establishment (not included). Whitehorse is a lively town and it will not be difficult to find a way to enjoy the evening!
    After goodbyes and a last look around Whitehorse, we will head for home with a cargo of fond and spectacular memories.

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