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Photo Essay: Packrafting the Madison River
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Photo Essay: Packrafting the Madison River on 06/09/2009 22:02:09 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Photo Essay: Packrafting the Madison River

Jason Brinkman
(jbrinkmanboi) - MLife

Locale: Idaho
Re: Photo Essay: Packrafting the Madison River on 06/10/2009 01:13:56 MDT Print View

Awesome pics - looks like a great trip. There's nothing like having a river all to yourselves!

HOWEVER... as a traditional whitewater enthusiast, I feel the need to issue a word of caution to the unannointed. Bear Trap at those flows is a handful. I would not want to experience any Class IV+ river at high spring flows without either the benefit of being accompanied by an experienced high water veteran of that river, or prior personal experience at a range of flows. Make that Class III+ in a packraft!

You wrote, "We later learned from hardcore kayakers that running the Bear Trap this time of year should be considered something between stupid and suicidal." You probably put this in for emphasis, but it doesn't really speak to the level of knowledge that I would want before embarking on such a trip. I suspect you and others in your group have considerable Madison experience, but that isn't stated in the article.

Perhaps I am more risk adverse that some... But I sense a general theme on BPL of trying to convince the world that UL backpacking is not really that extreme - and I agree it's not. Yet arguably packrafting Bear Trap at 4000 CFS is exactly that - extreme.

As for me, I have catarafted some moderately difficult stuff. Like May highwater runs on the MF Salmon, EFSF Salmon, Lochsa, etc. But I do it in the company of a very experienced group of catarafters with hundreds of Class V runs between them on the likes of the NF Payette, SF Salmon, Selway, etc.

Glad to see you in real PFD's at least! Keep safe and have fun. SYOTR.

Brian Barnes
(brianjbarnes) - M

Locale: Midwest
RE: "Photo Essay: Packrafting the Madison River" on 06/10/2009 06:22:52 MDT Print View

Well done! Enjoyed the read/pictures very much.

Speaking of PFDs... can any of the participants ID the brand/model of the PFD they used? I'm in the market for one and having trouble finding accurate weights to compare the options.

Edited by brianjbarnes on 06/10/2009 07:57:44 MDT.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Beartrap Canyon on 06/10/2009 07:27:40 MDT Print View

Beartrap Canyon at low water (e.g., 1200 cfs) really isn't a place for packrafters at all. There's a lot of water in there.

I've run the rapids at low water but not in the absence of people ready for rescue. And I will not take my packraft through the actual Kitchen Sink or Green Wave holes.

We all had Class III PFD's, most of us had whitewater PFD's. I think some of our favorites include the NRS Clearwater, which has a high foam back that doesn't interfere with the higher packraft seats.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
Photo Essay: Packrafting the Madison River on 06/10/2009 09:41:05 MDT Print View

These photos turned out wonderfully, Ryan! I'll chime in with a response to Jason regarding the safety and ease of running whitewater. All the decisions to run sections of river were based on one (or more) of the skilled rafters first checking it out either from a "read and run" or from the shore. Then, the group decided whether to run it as a whole or not. If part of the group wanted to walk they had that option, and if part wanted to run it they then formed teams to watch each other thereby running it safely.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Photo Essay: Packrafting the Madison River on 06/10/2009 16:07:05 MDT Print View

Really nice pics! Looks like a lot of fun.

If I were a younger man, then I'd roll on down the river with you.

jim bailey
(florigen) - F - M

Locale: South East
Packrafting the Madison River on 06/14/2009 21:56:51 MDT Print View

That trip must have been a total blast, way too many great people for it not too be.

Keep doing what you do BPL!