Sunday, July 12, 2009

Whitewater on Windy Creek

Ben and Tyler take a ride down Windy Creek

Windy Creek is often used as an approach to access the Sanctuary River in Denali National Park. This clear boulder strewn ribbon of water also makes for a superb day trip. When I first walked up this drainage en route to the Sanctuary River via Windy Pass I was so focussed on my final destination that I somehow overlooked its amusement park ride-like floating potential. Fortunately a fellow packrafter pointed out the obvious in a post on the internet.

A well worn 4-wheeler trail branches northwest from the community of Cantwell and crosses a low divide before narrowing down to a single track where it descends into the Windy Creek drainage. We hiked about 5 miles along this path from Cantwell to an undefined spot that looked like a great starting point. This was followed by a 9 mile float down Windy Creek and the Jack River -- eventually pulling out where the Jack spills into the Nenana River. A short portage through the brush brought us back to the road. From there its a pleasant 8-mile bike ride or run back to the vehicle in Cantwell. The ideal car shuttle required.

Mark gazes down at the others clambering on all fours as they climb a steep bluff along Windy Creek.

The upper part of Windy Creek is very fun and steady class II water with lots of small drops and standing waves. The volume is relatively low so there are no big hydraulics or unmanageable holes to contend with. Its a confidence boosting intro paddle for newbies to whitewater packrafting. The lower river is a mellow class I "chill out" and soak up the scenery float.

Tyler prepares to re-enter the river after one of our numerous stops to dump water out of the boats.

Videography from Windy Creek

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

you are so clever Mark (windy creek vid) I would be overboard long before xxx