Floating the Susitna River
July 27 - 28, 1996
One of our favorite short float trips is from Gold Creek to Talkeetna on the Susitna River. We have friends with a small cabin in Talkeetna, so logistics were perfect. We drove to Talkeetna, spent a night at the cabin, caught the Alaska Railroad "bud car" north to Gold Creek, and floated back to the cabin, camping along the way. The "bud car" is a local shuttle that stops anywhere passengers want and can be waved down anywhere along its route. For many people, it's the best way into and out of their remote cabins.
We've done the float numerous times with different groups of friends and guests. This time, our friend Linda joined us, bringing along a survival suit. It seemed a bit much to take a survival suit on a relatively easy float trip, but she said she planned to float in it rather than a raft. Would anyone else like to give it a try? I did, and it was exciting to bounce through whitewater, warm and comfortable. The Alaska Railroad parallels the river in many places. It was great fun to wave at tourists on the train and shout, "Help!"
Goldie wanted to be everywhere at once, keeping track of all the people. He jumped from raft to raft, sometimes missing and landing in the water. In the photo, I'm floating in the survival suit with Goldie on my tummy, hanging on for dear life.
Some years earlier, my brother and I did the Susitna float trip together in my original 8' dinghy, Priscilla Ann. Dennis was away flying a friend of his to fish in remote areas. My brother and I hauled the raft and our gear down the embankment to the river and started to blow up the raft, but it was full of leaks. No problem, I thought. We have a patch kit. I pulled out the patch kit. The glue had dried up. Hmmm. Did we have any duct tape? Bubble gum?
While contemplating our options, we heard the sound of a motor. A couple of scary-looking guys with guns were racing toward us on 4-wheelers. "Oh, no," thought my brother. "Trouble!"
"Great!" I thought. "Maybe they have glue." I waved them down and explained our situation. "Sure," one said, "there's glue back at my cabin." They disappeared and returned 15 minutes later with glue and fresh-baked refreshments. We repaired the raft and chatted for awhile. It turned out one of the tattooed, scary-looking guys owned a ceramics shop. My brother couldn't believe it!
Go on to read First Night Anchored in Prince William Sound
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