Friday, July 8, 2011

Tok River Float-Hike-Float

On the advice of a friend I recently signed up for my first Outdoor Adventure trip even though I’ve been at UAF for several years. What I discovered along the way was more than just a great way to spend the 4th of July in the beautiful Alaskan wilderness, it was an experience that allowed me to make new friends, push myself physically and make memories that I will keep for the rest of my life.

Day 1 at O’dark thirty we set off from UAF towards Tok over 200 miles away. We arrived later that afternoon and after a quick shuttle trip to the take-out point we launched into the murky rain-fed Tok River. The water was fast and full of logs and debris from weeks of heavy rain. I’ve done plenty of river canoeing before but almost no kayaking so it was an interesting experience to say the least. At the start of our trip we made it several miles downriver until we were assaulted by a brutal hail storm that pelted us with pea sized hail, soaking some of us and most of our gear. Undaunted, we persevered through the storm until it cleared. After a relatively calm half a day’s paddle we reached a lovely sand bar and made camp where we ate a delicious dinner of broccoli and beef with rice. S’mores and Jello No-Bake Oreo Pie followed.

The next day we made-way 300 feet downriver where we beached and went on a hike to the Eagle Trail state recreation area. Here our group split up and “some of us” went for a vigorous hike up a steep mountain trail to the summit while others in the group went along an informational nature hike and got to see some indigenous Alaskan orchids and got some great pictures! We met back up at the bottom of the trails, filled our water bottles and made way back to our kayaks and canoes for the next leg of our journey which took us several miles downstream to our next campsite. That night we enjoyed a dinner of wild mushroom couscous with sautéed chicken and veggies. Dessert was apple pie and cream cheese pasties made by our very own Lily G! Fun with cameras and a T-Rex attack left us happy and tired for our second night of rest.

Our last day was our longest yet, as we navigated nearly 20 river miles while singing innumerable Disney songs. By the end of the day my arms were screaming at me as I spent most of my energy floundering about in a kayak which I finally figured out how to make “drive” straight after eight hours of trial and error. My failure as a kayaker was dwarfed by the canoe of our compatriots which was deemed to be “slightly faster than walking”. They attributed most of this to a defective canoe but most of us believe they just weren’t paddling hard enough…or at all. It was already mid evening when we pulled out of the river and nearly 9:00pm by the time that we ate a feast of a dinner at Fast Eddy’s, a local diner in Tok. We dined on the finest of french fries and burgers, a well deserved reward after all the paddling we did.

While this was my first Outdoor Adventures trip I can confidently say that it will not be my last. I had one of the best times of my life out on the river with my new friends, guides, and Ethan the Adventure Duck. It was easily one of the most memorable 4th of July’s I’ve had.


Trip Participant

1 comment: