|the turn around point in Devil's Canyon|
We are on a 50-passenger jet boat up the Class VI rapids of Devil’s Canyon on the Susitna River in Alaska. Ahead of us is a 10-foot high waterfall at one of the narrowest points yet in the canyon. It’s loud. The roar of the jet boat is lost in the thrumming as the reddish-brown canyon walls squeeze one of the largest rivers on the continent and drop it off that ledge. Most conversation has stopped and we are all wondering, hoping, that the boat is going to stop here.
We were free to move about the boat until we reached Devil’s Canyon. Then the captain asked us to stay seated until we reached the turn-around point. We began rocking and rolling up the river as the canyon walls rose and closed around us. Then we reached this waterfall. The captain does stop and somehow he keeps the boat hovering at the bottom of that drop for more than half an hour. Once we realize that he really can hold the boat at the bottom of the waterfall, we take turns snapping photos at the front of the boat, laughing at the sheer power of the water.
Most of my experience of the Susitna has been on that matriarchal river – a mile-wide braided stretch more than 50 miles south of Devil’s Canyon. My small town sits near the confluence of three rivers – the Susitna, Chulitna, and Talkeetna – and is named after the last one.
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