(907) 320-0787 / (828) 691-8149 newskiesalaska@gmail.com

Back in Alaska!

New Skies is back in Alaska!  Our home base for our rafting and fishing business is located in Gakona, Alaska and we’re back for the 2016 season after almost 5,000 miles on the road through the U.S. and Canada.  We’re so ready to stretch our legs (and rowing arms!) after that trip.  We saw some beautiful parts of our country on the drive up, crossed major rivers and came across a huge variety of wildlife, especially in northern Canada.  We got to see what seemed like the spring season in reverse as we came up from the warm, sunny South into the colder, slower-to-thaw Northern territory.  At the tail end of the trip, ice still crusted the edges of rivers and hungry animals such as buffalo, bear and elk were eagerly stripping roadsides of new, green shoots of grass and giving us a great view.  What a wild welcoming party! The rivers have mostly cleared of winter ice in Alaska, but a Kodak moment today with some playful eagles was characterized by blowing snow and frozen fingers.  It didn’t seem to bother the eagles and ravens.  They seemed downright frisky and happy to soar in the freezing wind.  As for us, we’re downright happy to be here, too in all its grey, springtime glory.  Now it’s time to make ready for the summer, the salmon, the sun and rafting and fishing...

Rafting with Kids

To some, rafting with kids seems more like a scary nightmare than a fun family activity.   Indeed, I just talked to the mother of a 3-year-old at the playground the other day who literally shivered at the thought.  The thing is, her only rafting experience was hair-raising whitewater during one summer in Colorado.  There are plenty of gentle, meandering flat-water floats in many areas, including Alaska.  If you’re already familiar with boating, these floats are a perfect way to get outside and see your area from a new perspective.  Best of all, you can introduce your kids to the start of many happy memories on the river.  An added bonus is that you only have to be able to lug all your kid-stuff from the car to the boat, unlike a backpacking trip where you carry it the whole way (including all the toys and animals they just had to bring, but got tired of carrying 5 minutes down the trail). So boating parents, if you’re not already doing it, don’t leave a hobby and love behind because of the age-old excuse: We can’t, we have kids.  Bummed out parents, take heart! You can do something fun, and yes, even exciting with kids.  You just need to know how to go about it.  It’s not 100% peaceful and idyllic, and it’s not meant to be the adrenaline rush it used to be, but it has its own special rewards.  Here are some things to think about when you are considering planning on going rafting with kids: First and most important, know the kid(s).  Does your child feel comfortable around the water? Are they okay with water splashing in their face?  Even smaller, harmless rapids...

Creekin’ in the Shredder, Part II

  …Another scenic river adventure with some whitewater!  Since their warm-up run on the Davidson went so well, JJ and Greg decided to try the North Fork of the French Broad river.  The North Fork (IV-IV+) is a local creek run in Brevard, NC that had sustained a runnable level for a few weeks.  The ground was still charged from all the recent winter rains and they saw the Shredder’s window of opportunity at 1200 CFS.  So they rounded up the gear and off to the river they went… A little less accessible than most river runs, getting the raft down to the water involved keeping the thwarts un-inflated and “folding” the boat to carry it through the woods.  Once at the river, the first few rapids went smoothly and the first scouting stop was Boxcar rapid…Technically, running the rapid itself went great!  However, there may have been a small loss of balance leading to a refreshing swim afterward. They proceeded downstream through the other rapids, walked Submarine, and paddled out the Lower with the sun on the river.  Pretty day and good times.~    ...

Creekin’ in the ‘Shredder’

No fishing happening on this rafting adventure!  A lot of rain and a day off of our winter work afforded JJ and Greg the chance to try out the Shredder (2-man cataraft) on the upper Davidson River in the Pisgah National Forest.  The river was running class III+ (IV) due to recent rainfall and confidence may have been a little compromised when 1) a group of kayakers at the put-in spoke of the impending carnage they were about to witness and 2) they couldn’t recall many people they knew that had “shredded” the Upper Davidson.   So, they did what most boaters do in the face of nerves and put on anyway…safety, of course being of the utmost concern. The trip went very smooth as they paddled through the rapids and skirted some log jams.  One major tree in the way resulted in a portage for the cataraft and a small river rescue for the supportive kayakers from the put-in.  Is there River Karma?  Probably..   (All kidding aside, we’re glad everyone’s okay.) All paddles and paddlers involved came out okay in the end and there’s another beautiful river memory for the mental archives.  Way to get out there to log some time in 2015 before it’s all the way gone,...

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