The Sounds of Silence - The OTHER Kenai River
Different Strokes For Different Folks
There was something eerily wrong. When we first pushed off and our vehicle slowly began to fade in the distance all was well. But at each stroke of our paddles we began to notice an increasing ROAR......of silence.
Strangely absent was the sound of highway traffic and the monotonous buzz of outboard motors plying up and down this now mere trickle of the river it would soon grow to be. And in its place was a humble, slow-flowing stream filled with waterfowl and a sky full of bald eagles and gulls, all sharing the most peaceful setting on earth.
On occasion we would hear the sound of a hammer or saw as a riverside resident was busily engaged in springtime repairs around their place. But we were always greeted by a smile and a wave if we were even noticed at all as we silently glided down this peaceful carpet Mother Nature has provided.
The Kenai is the most well-known river in the state of Alaska. And over the years many hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world as well as our own residents have tapped the abundant salmon resources of this highly productive drainage. Its accessibility is unmatched anywhere else in the State with a highway and sideroads accompanying it for most of its 67 flowing river miles from Kenai Lake through Skilak Lake and on to Cook Inlet.
Ice out, or breakup, heralds the arrival of Spring on the Kenai River and Kenai Peninsula. And magically in just a few short days the area begins to again fill with life as the days begin to warm. But at this time of year the mountain snowpack hasn't yet begun to melt so the river is very low and un-navigable by power boats for many more weeks in the lower Kenai.
Here is the chance to turn back the clock fifty, one hundred, or a thousand years and enjoy the Kenai as Alaska's first inhabitants knew it. Yes there are now signs of habitation along its banks with houses, fishing operations and lodges....but its all frozen in time right now. No anglers lining its banks elbow to elbow, nor boats of all kinds always on the move to a better fishing location. Its just plain QUIET and SERENE! And very safe for rafting, kayaking, or canoeing at this time of year if you take a few precautions. River velocity after ice out in the lower river is only 1 to 2 ft. per second due to the low volume of water. And much of the lower river in Spring averages less than two feet deep as you will notice when paddling or rowing. Gone too is the danger of sweepers, i.e. overhanging trees at water level, since the river is six feet below its mid-summer level.
There are a great number of points along the river where those with a canoe, kayak or raft can put in and pull out. And the distribution of these places along the river will allow the springtime paddler or rower the choice of choosing any length of trip desirable; from a couple miles up to fifty. Our next page will display the map of the lower river and provide a description, some safety tips and other notes which will be handy to know if you decide to see the Quiet Side of the Kenai. Its one of the nicest experiences to kick off spring.
| Canoeing the Lower Kenai River |
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