| The Tatshenshini
Dalton Post to Dry Bay - 143 Miles
Timeline: 9 July ~ 18 July 2003
Put-In: Dalton Post, Yukon
Take-out: Dry Bay, Alaska
Dalton Post to Dry Bay - Class III (IV) - 143 Miles
Coordinates: 59°31'N, 137°14'W
Born the Blanchard River in the Yukon, Alaska's Tatshenshini
River becomes the Alsek River after their confluence in the St. Elias
British Columbia, and then flows on out to the mighty Pacific ocean
where bears feed on migrating salmon and grow to great sizes.
Uplifted onto the highest coastal mountain range on earth,
shaken by the strongest earthquakes to strike the North American
continent, sculptured by the largest non-polar ice field and glaciers
in the world, and eroded
by its mighty mile-wide river, the Tatshenshini wilderness has
A place of such primal intensity and untarnished beauty as to
define the word 'wilderness'.
One of the most memorable journeys ever encountered. The
awesome size, beauty, and remoteness of this land make the Tatshenshini
the greatest river trips in the world. From its beginnings as a
small, rushing whitewater river in the Yukon, to the massive size of
the combined Tatshenshini and Alsek Rivers, to the incredible beauty of
the Tatshenshini will fill you with wonder, and will likely make you
very small, because... you are.
Park links the three adjacent national parks, Kluane
National Park Reserve, Yukon, Glacier Bay National Park and
Preserve, Alaska and Wrangell-St.
Elias National Park and Preserve,
Alaska, and Yukon and Tongass Nation Forest, Alaska, to create
a 958,000 hectacre ecological unit and bi-national World Heritage
The recently established protections held by the Tatshenshini-Alsek
Provincial Wilderness Park are constantly under attack by the
The Tatshenshini flows through the
heart of the largest bio-preserve in the world.
Situated in the extremely rugged northwest corner
of British Columbia, in 1993 it became the fourth component in the
largest international protected area in the world. Half the landscape
is permanently covered
in snow and ice - the other half fosters forests and tundra and stable
populations of wildlife untouched but for a historic aboriginal
To ensure the preservation of the entire ecosystem, the
Tatshenshini River and its tributary, the Alsek River, are completely
headwater to source, creating the only large river drainage in
America that is completely safeguarded.
This means HANDS OFF Gale Norton and Dick Cheney !
The upper reaches fo the Tatshenshini River offer great
and wildlife viewing.
The upper canyon of the Tatshenshini consists of read-and-run Class
III~IV rapids with cold and hypothermic conditions claiming the
careless like carion.
Only a few accessible trails, basically bear
you into the high alpine country.
From the top of the mountains
can see glaciers and snowfields, and, likey, mountain goats grazing on
steep mountainside. Boreal white and black spruce forests bordered by
poplar, alder and
rare vascular plants.
Breathtaking! Just off the main river are miles and miles of
wetland habitat with beaver ponds and perfect nesting grounds for over
known species of birds.
As the river gains volume, the Tatshenshini transforms into many
braided channels as major tributaries enter the river.
What is known as a creek in Alaska, is a flood stage river in
Around the fifth day of this nine day trip we join the Alsek River.
In a panoramic view of the Tatshenshini/Alsek confluence you see over
27 glaciers (amongst them, Walker Glacier).
There is more great hiking in this area, and the chance to walk on the
ancient ice of a glacier, not far from the river.
One highlight of the trip is often Alsek Lake, where massive glaciers
calve off huge chunks of ice.
We'll have the opportunity to paddle around beautiful icebergs and
listen to and watch the glaciers calve.
Flooding from waves is likely when camping near Alsek Lake.
From Dry Bay, a spectacular 90 minute bush flight takes you back
to Haines, enjoying a bird's eye view of the majestic St. Elias
Range - the largest non-polar glacial system in the world.
The last night's camp has and incredible view of the lake, and you fall
asleep to the sounds of the ice.
Dry Bay, Alaska - coastal grizzly country. One fish packing station and
loads and loads of bears.
These are the biggest Grizzly in Alaska, they eat LOTS of Wild Salmon.
Spectacular coastal mountains ring this small fishing community.
Either relax at this final camp/runway/fish packing station (and swat
bugs), or hike out a few miles to the long sandy beaches of
Dry Bay to watch the Pacific surf roll in while the coastal Grizzly
bears chase you into the surf.
Or... an even more amazing flight to Yakutat with Dave Russell will
equally blow your freakin' mind if you get clear weather, you will be
Tatshenshini River details:
The Tatshenshini begins as a small river, closely skirted by wooded
slopes, then quickly gains speed as it plummets down mountains and
swells as its tributaries join it and increase the volume of the river
The Tatshenshini area is dominated by the St.
Elias Mountains, the largest concentration of high peaks in
North America, including Mount Fairweather, the highest peak in
British Columbia 15,200 feet (4633 metres). Composed of sedimentary,
metamorphic and volcanic rocks, the St. Elias mountains have gone
through several periods of major uplifting ending about 10 million
years ago, that produced 15 summits of more than 13,120+ feet (4000
metres). These peaks are surrounded by massive ice fields which storms
blowing in from the Gulf of Alaska build up with eternal ice and
Rivers of ice flow down from these ice fields to melt into frigid
rivers or to slide into coastal waters, reshaping the landscape.
** This region possesses the largest sub-polar ice cap in the
An estimated 31 surging glaciers and 350 valley glaciers are
present in this incredible area.
Glaciers like the Walker Glacier
provide access where one can walk right onto the toe of the glacier.
One of the wildest rivers in the world, on its 186 mile/ 300
kilometer journey to the Gulf of Alaska, the Tatshenshini River runs a
ragged course through a variety of terrains from dense forest to deep
to broad glacially scoured valleys, carving out the only corridor
the St. Elias Mountains.
This region has registered some of the most violent
earthquakes in North American history including the largest which caused
mountains to thrust up 50 feet and surging glaciers to advance half a
mile in 5 minutes. More worrisome, considering mining
industry has plans to proceed with a copper mine, was the 1958 quake
just 50 kilometres from Windy Craggy Mountain which measured 7.9 on the
Richter scale and released rock slides, shattered glaciers, split
rivers and sank an island.
The forests of the Tatshenshini-Alsek region, influenced by their
proximity to the ocean, have an unusual diversity. From lush
forests backing onto the interior mountain domain of dry spruce and
to the alders and alpine meadows on the sweeping lower slopes of the
Range, this watershed is like no other.
Along the coastline, sea lions and humpback whales can
be seen from shore; between the coast and the mountains, wildlife
includes red fox, wolverine, beaver, coyote, porcupine, marmots
and grey wolves.
**Because of its exceptionally productive habitat and remote wilderness
environment, the Tatshenshini River basin is one of the last
strongholds for the Grizzly in North America.
Tatshenshini River basin is the only place where the rare
sub-species of black bear, the Silver-Blue Glacier Bear, Ursus
americanus emmonsi, occurs in Canada.
It also sustains the only year-round populations of Dall's
sheep in British Columbia as well as great numbers of Mountain
Goats and the huge Kenai moose. As well as the 53 species
mammals, the Tatshenshini also provides nesting sites for about 180
of birdlife. Bald and golden eagles, hummingbirds, semi-palmated
and the rapacious jaegars, ptarmigan and the ruffed grouse all find a
in the park.
Rare waterfowl include both the King and Stellar's
eider. The area is furthermore a major breeding site for Trumpeter
swans, Harlequin ducks and Gyrfalcons.
** 95% of the Chinook salmon, 90% of the Sockeye salmon and
75% of the Coho salmon for the commercial fishery
in the Deep Bay area of the Gulf of Alaska, comes from the Tatshenshini
River system -one of the three major salmon bearing rivers on the
What a great place for an open pit Copper mine! Dont you think?!
Archaeologists continue to study the sites of numerous Tlingit (pronounced
Kling-it) and southern Tutchone fishing villages
located along the Tatshenshini and Alsek rivers. The eastern edge of
park follows an ancient trade route used by the Chilkat tribe
barter with the Tutchone tribe whose permanent villages were
centres of trade and contact with coastal tribes. Today, Klukshu in the
Yukon is still occupied by the Champagne Aishihik people, who
not altered their traditional methods for catching and smoking salmon. Jack
Dalton and Edward Glave were the first Europeans to travel the
Today, their trading post, established during the gold rush at the turn
the century, has been reduced to a couple of collapsing log cabins.
mid-1800's, a tragic flood occurred with the sudden expulsion of a huge
lake dammed up for years by a glacier that had advanced until it
completely blocked the Alsek River. A wall of water 7 metres high and
15 metres wide swept an entire Tutchone village into the sea at Dry
Bay. Only the petroglyphs on a rock near the confluence of the
River and the Alsek River and their oral history speak of their
in the area.
The Tatshenshini River - a former trade route of the interior
Athabascan indians with the coastal Tlingit tribes - is a journey
through time and space. A journey back beyond the Jurrassic. A
journey where you begin by acknowledging that if ANYTHING goes wrong,
you are fish food or bear shit.
This trip of a lifetime begins in Haines, Alaska.
From Haines the approach is to drive up into the Yukon Territory, into
the bush near Dalton Post.
The river trip ends in a remote region called Dry Bay, Alaska.
Downriver by raft to Dry Bay, then, weather-permitting, we hop
a bush flight from Dry Bay to Yakutat.
The gear, and whoever needs, will hop bushplane+gear back to
I recommend to fly with Air Juneau for the hop from Dry Bay back to
Bush flight from Dry Bay back to Yakutat.
I flew with Dave Russell, at Yakutat Air. Dave is one hell of
a good pilot, and knows the Alaskan coast.
Fly Yakutat to Juneau (where you will need to spend the
evening) then the next morning fly home.
Yakutat layover - Alaska Air flights leave Yakutat airport daily at
"Yakutat" is the Tlingit word for "the place
where the canoes rest"
Costs: $ Roughly Estimated Price Breakdown: $
||rate / day
||number of days
|Van to Put-in
|Katadyn H20 Filter
|Gear Flight out Drybay-Haines
|NPS Trip Fee
| $4751/ # of participants
Your personal flight options
with nine participants =
| $528 / person
Round Trip (Alaska Air)
Round Trip (Alaska Air)
Dry Bay to Yakutat
||$ 270/1 plane
or $540 for two flights
Dry Bay to Haines
||$ 650 ~ $850
my trip details
3-day Inland Passage Ferry From
2-berth cabin for 2 nites
flight DryBay to Yakutat
divided by 3
Yakutat to Seattle Flight (Alaska Air)
-Ferry to Haines
without cabin= $593
total cost (est-high)
$1182 total cost (est-low)
Important Dates - Trip Timeline
July 5,6 Sat, Sun Ferry to Haines - Alaska Marine Highway System -
July 7 Monday 11:30am -
Arrive in Haines, Alaska
July 8 Tuesday Haines,
Alaska - Captains Choice
Motel -here's a MAP of
July 9 Wednesday Gather
group in Haines and drive 110 miles to PUT-IN at Dalton Post.
July 9~18 (Wednesday~ week+Thursday) -On River- Tatshenshini River
-Alsek Park -St. Elias Range
Dry Bay - Bush flight to Yakutat
Waves Surf Shop
July 19 Saturday 5:30pm
DEP Yakutat - 10:00 p.m. ARV Seattle
July 20 Sunday
Seattle - Denver
The Most Effective Clothing
Against Mosquitoes, Biting Flies and Ticks, as well as UVA and UVB
Service Alaska Region
Guide to the Tatshenshini River with map-Cloudburst Productions)
Chamber of Commerce
Ursus arctos horribilis
Parks and Rec
a trip log
Discovery Trip Notes
River near Yakutat Tatshenshini-Dalton