A Guide to Five Fingers
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Five Finger Rapid is the first of two rapids on the Yukon. It is 2:30 – 3:30 hours paddling time downstream from Carmacks, and is not particularly challenging if run right.
As you approach the rapids, the river is first taking a long sweep to the right, then a turn to the left. As you get to that left turn, you want to be well over to the right. The bulk of the water goes through the left two channels, and you do not want to go with it.
When you get close to the right hand channel, you will see that there is some dead water against the right bank behind a little headland some 200 metres upstream of the rapids themselves. There is a well defined eddy line here. I would advise against crossing this line into the eddy unless you are keen to go through the rapids sideways or backwards. This line continues with diminishing resolution all the way across to the first island. So at some point you do want to cross the line.
The Right hand channel has a fairly clear V with shoulder waves coming out from the island and the right bank. If you follow the V to the end, you will find yourself in some sharp standing waves whose height varies year by year and according to the water level. They can be unnecessarily exciting. If you leave the V by crossing the gentle, rounded, shoulder waves on your left, you join what is now relatively smooth water to the left of those standing waves.
Once you have done that, you are through the main part of the rapids. There are more sharp standing waves upstream of the second island after the rapids. These are easily avoided either by going to the right of the island immediately after the rapids, or by staying close to the island if you go to the left.