About the Alsek-Tatshenshini Confluence
The confluence of the Alsek and Tatshenshini feels like and is often referred to as the center of the universe. A place where visitors can feel the magnitude of the mountains, glaciers, and the combining force of these powerful rivers. The indigenous Tlingit and Athabascan people frequented the confluence long before trappers and raft groups. This was a logical meeting point for coastal and interior trade for hundreds of years. In an unfortunate event in 1852, a massive glacial outburst flood rushed down the Alsek river from Lowell Lake, killing an unknown but substantial amount of inhabitants at the confluence. While Petroglyph Island has one of the only signs that indigenous people once walked the banks and canoed the rivers, it is important to understand and appreciate the people that first carved out a life in this demanding and wild environment.
Below the Confluence
For boaters coming from the Tatshenshini, everything downstream is about to be magnified as the Alsek consumes the Tat and descends into the ice age. Right off the bat, you will experience the largest braided section thus far on the trip, reaching two miles wide at some points. One of the unique aspects of this river system is how the braids act like roads. You have a couple main “highways” hosting a majority of the water and smaller “country roads” branching off and meeting back up. Based on your channel choice you can explore left, right, or center. Most groups are in a rush to get to Walker Glacier, but don’t underestimate how cool the section below the confluence is. Groups typically make good time in the main flows descending towards The End Glacier and Kodak Corner, where the river makes a drastic turn to the left. Take care to give the boats in front of you enough space to make a choice that you can follow. If you get separated, have a pre-planned campsite to meet.