Rafting, Denali National Park and Preserve
The Nenana River is famous for its Class III-V rapids. The scenery is also spectacular. I'd never tried white water rafting before, and was a bit wary. Personally, I would have preferred paddling along some more common waters and keeping an eye out for the grizzly I was still hoping to see.
But the weather went from raining to pouring, my spirits were sagging and I was jonesing for a bit of adventure, or, at least, some exercise. I went to Nenana Raft Adventures and told Jason, the guide, that I wanted to do a raft trip but did not wish to do white water. He said, you have to do a white water trip. I said no thank you. This went on for a couple of back and forths and he said to me "only wimps do the paddle trips". As much as I was still wary of whitewater rafting, I was more wary of being called a wimp by some stranger I'd never see again. Makes perfect sense, doesn't it?
We went through the safety demonstration and, when I saw the rapids, I almost backed out. But Jason was there and, with the wimp comment hanging over me, I donned my"dry suit", a truly laughable term. The suit was too big at the wrists and the boots were loose. The guides assured me it would be fine
The next 11 miles were a soaked and frozen blur of an adrenaline rush. We dipped into the first rapid and were inundated with glacial just above freezing water which leaked into my "dry suit" and soaked my fleece cap and gloves. But the scenery, when I wasn't ducking to avoid the next tidal wave, was breathtaking and, as someone pointed out, we all forgot that it was raining
We booked into our cabin at 16:45 and by 18:30 were going white water rafting!
This was an excellent three hour ride down the canyon to Heeley.
“Razor back” and “Coffee Grinder” we just a few of the “holes” which Joe our guide took us down. It was bit cold and wet on the trip, but then again what do you expect. Dry suits were provided and these even kept you dry if you volunteered to fall out of the boat for a while.
I think there were eight of us in the boat along with the guide. We opted for the non rowing type of trip. This worked out fine for us, giving us more time to hang on.
There was a point where we were supposed to look up at one of the team who had followed us with his camera, but we didn’t make it into the final picture. I think I was leaning down and Nic was hidden behind someone else.
We went down grade IV rapids which were pretty good…nothing too hairy but lively enough. The guide said that they were grade III rapids but because of the very cold temperature of the Alaskan glaciered water, they were upped to IV.
Good fun though and back by 22:00…still daylight in summer Alaska, and plenty of time for a warm up in the bar with a burger and a beer.
Not too much beer though as we had to be up at 05:00 for the Denali Wilderness Tour!
The Nenana river is an exciting, fun river to run for all ages. All the local companies provide rafting. Boats are operated by experienced, professional guides.
Duration: appr. 4 hours.
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