Winter at Last! BSAR Kuskokwim River Update*

by Bethel Search and Rescue

12.8.18 Summary:

With temperatures up to 20 degrees cooler travel conditions in the Bethel area have been greatly improving. BSAR teams have been out every day monitoring conditions and checking the growing number of established trails This is what they observed.

•There are established trails to Akiachak, Kwethluk, Akiak, Oscarville, and Napaskiak

•The trails to both Akiak and Kwethluk are both mainly on the River

•The trail to Akiak goes through Akiachak— not through Kuskokuak Slough

•The trail to Kwethluk uses the main river from Bethel to the Y then goes into the Akiachak Channel to Max’s portage that comes out across from the mouth of the Kwethluk River. Do Not go in the mouth of the Kwethluk River—there is open water. Go into the village by portage that goes through the Old, Old airport

Kuskokuak Slough is still very dangerous with unmarked open water both above and below Kwethluk. The Upper end is wide open.

•No open water has been marked in the Kwethluk, Akiak, and Tuluksak areas yet.

•As of 12.8.18 there is no trail through Church Slough

•Upriver traffic is using Straight Slough and then on up the main River or the Hangar Lake Trail

•All known open water in the Bethel and Akiachak areas has been marked

•No trails are marked except for the part of the Akiachak trail that’s on the Gweek River

•There is a trail on the River downstream to Napaskiak and Oscarville

•Ice thickness along established trails ranges from 6” to 10”

•Travel to Tuluksak is still by the back trails on the east and west sides of the Kuskokwim at this time

There is Major Open Water near the Trail to Akiak—this is 4 miles above Akiachak right across from Eddie Noatak’s Fish Camp. And … Major Open Water at the Mouth of the Tuluksak River.


Things have improved greatly after just a few days of cold weather. Even colder temperatures are in the forecast –just in time for the Holidays. Unfortunately with better traveling conditions there has also been an increase in alcohol related search and rescues for BSAR.

On Thursday evening BSAR rescued a man and woman who had fallen into a creek on the Oscarville back trail. They were both soaking wet. The man was frozen to the ice. Please don’t travel or let others travel while drinking.

After being rescued Intoxicated Travelers were turned over to the Bethel Police. BSAR Member Buzz Chaney gave the wet intoxicated woman his nice warm dry bunny boots and he has to wear her small wet shoes on the ride home!

Thank you and Safe Travels from BSAR!

*Please note: this report is for informational purposes only. It is not an advisory that it is safe to travel.