Monday, July 28, 2008

When snow melts river runs (I)

With the name When snow melts river runs, I want to start a new post series about Whitewater activities like Rafting, Hydrospeed, etc.
Today I want to write about one of the World's best rafting trips: Tatshenshini River with Skeena Valley Expeditions.
The Tatshenshini River, rated one of the world’s top ten most scenic rivers, drains the northwest corner of British Columbia and the southwest corner of the Yukon Territory. The river joins the Alsek River just before the Alaska border and continues through the top of the Alaska panhandle to drain into the Pacific Ocean at Dry Bay. The Tatshenshini-Alsek Park combined with the Kluane National Park in the Yukon, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska to the South, and the Wrangle/St. Elias National Park in Alaska, is the largest protected area on earth. In 1994 the area as a whole was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, making it the largest one in the world.
The river connects the Interior Plateau with the Pacific Ocean bisecting the St. Elias Mountains which contain the world's largest non-polar ice caps and some of the planet's most spectacular scenery. The natural landscapes are home to Grizzly Bears, Mountain Goats, Moose, Bald Eagles, multiple species of Salmon, a plethora of unique wildflowers including entire mountainsides painted in pink fireweed (Yukon's Territorial flower), and Arctic Terns. From drifting through Quiet Canyon in the vast Spruce Forests of the Interior to paddling by giant icebergs and walking on glaciers or being dwarfed by 15,600 foot Mt. Fairweather while standing at sea level, or witnessing history in action as a giant tributary deposits sediment on an expansive flower covered gravel bar, the experience awaiting is nothing short of breath taking.
The trip last 10 days, seven of them rafting mostly on class I or II rapids (Easy) and a stretch of class III rapids (Intermediate). On layover days there are optional hikes (the highlight is the glacier hike).