Getting dropped off for our packrafting adventure down the Robertson River in the Eastern Alaska Range.

Exploring the Robertson River by Plane & Packraft

May 2nd 2016 in Backpacking, , Rafting, Eastern Alaska Range, Robertson River

Last weekend we decided to explore the Robertson River Region a little better.

So Julien and me got a hold of Zack Knaebel from Tok Air Service because we knew that he would be the best air service to not only get dropped at the standard strip but explore the region a little bit. So he offered to fly us up there with his "Super Cub" to see if we find a landing possibility right where the glacier ends and the river starts. And he did.

Generally flying with him was awesome. Not only that he accommodated us so we did not have to shuttle any cars. But also he showed us everything while flying. We saw a cow moose with two really young calves, maybe a few days old, and circled and watch them for a while.

The Landing he found right at underneath the glacier debris was quite stunning! I would have never guessed that a plane could land there, but he made the landing feeling very smooth.

The tougher part, was getting out of the plane and actually looking at the water and the rapids a little closer. It turned out that we had higher water as expected and we where facing some wild water class 3. We didn't have dry suits. But the rollers where sometimes big enough to swallow us in the waves completely. So after a few seconds we were soaking wet. Fortunately after the first 5 Miles the water calmed down a little and we decided to call it a day and make a nice fire on one of the gravel bars.

We dried our cloth at the fire and enjoyed the a wonderful sunset.

At the next morning we got a nice proof that not may people ever go in this mountain region: We saw a caribou with two yearlings crossing the river not far from us. The second yearling was frightened of the deepest channel of the river and fled back. When it finally crossed it, it seemed like it could not find the mum anymore and it came back. And it walked right up to us. Very interested in what kind of creatures we are? It came up to about 10 feed and just stood there and watched us.

It really gave me the feeling to be somewhere really remote. Because it was so obvious that this caribou had never seen or learned about a human before. That's why it was not scared at all.

We really enjoyed that breakfast at the campfire being observed by our new little friend.

Also we where worried because we both new if its not finding his mum again soon. Its only a question of time when a bear will get it.

After we packed everything up we jumped back in to our packrafts and floated all the way to the Highway Bridge. That part of the river is a real nice and scenic float with nearly no rapids but still fast moving water. This day we really enjoyed that 6 hour float with the comfort of staying (nearly) dry.

The Robertson River is a fairly easy river with beautiful scenery, lots of wildlife which is fairly easy to access.

I would do it again at a heartbeat!

Florian von Derschau and Julien Schroder


Intermediate paddlers in plane and packraft.