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Le Parcour '09
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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Le Parcour '09 on 10/18/2009 14:45:21 MDT Print View

Kevin Sawchuk and I finished our trek across the Bob Marshall complex Friday afternoon, hiking around 170 miles in 5 days and change.

We saw no other people the whole time we were on trails, which was almost 120 hours exactly.

Our original route had been an ambitious traverse of the full Chinese Wall, but 12+ inches of snow above 7k made that a non-starter. The revised route still had plenty of challenge, and it's mix of alpine, forest, river, and valley scenery gave a grand sampler of all the Bob has to offer.

We saw the tracks of all Bob critters over 50 lbs: Grizz, Black bear, Moose, Elk, Deer, Sheep, Cougar, Wolf, Coyote, horse, human. Snow made this easy. We flushed a bunch of grouse and saw a few deer and elk, but no bears. Sawchuk's masterfull bag hanging kept the food safe.

There's so much to say that I'll leave the rest to unfold later. Here's a video that seems totally inadequate:

I learned several things that are worth saying:

Pick your partners. In Kevin I had the best available, and we had tons of fun even in gnarly conditions as a result.

Gear is important, but skill, fitness, experience, and will are moreso. On Thursday we left camp at first light and headed up Pentagon Creek. Soon we were hiking through the rain, dealing with wet brush, mud, and melting snow (churned even better by a moose in places). We postholed up steep hillsides and snowy talus to the pass at ~7k, then strapped on the 'shoes to descend through 2 feet of snow, skirting some sketchy cliff bands in the process. By the time we shed 'shoes and headed down Dolly Varden I was totally soaked, and even though my rain gear kept the wind off and my Wind Pro gloves and Hydroskin socks kept me warm, forward motion and the metabolic furnace were the most salient factors.

Have good shoes! The shoes I've been using all summer got a big hole in the forefoot 10 days before this. I wore their replacements everywhere, but that wasn't enough to reveal that the seam above the toes would rub the hell out my feet with thicker socks. Ouch.

Above all, get out. It's a big world.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Le Parcour '09 on 10/18/2009 15:33:30 MDT Print View

Congrats guys!

Dave - that photo of you feet says it all. Wow!

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Le Parcour 09 on 10/18/2009 16:09:51 MDT Print View

Sounds like a excellent time--I am jealous.
Any body know the total amount of hikers invloved?

Scott White
(sdwhitey) - F

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Le Parcour '09 on 10/18/2009 16:12:42 MDT Print View

Thanks for the sharing the video. I can't wait to hear more about it. I wasn't sure if the event actually took place because I saw Sam H and Carol C on the participant list but then noticed they had posted this week here at BPL.

@simplespirit. I thought WT3 09 had been cancelled but you just mentioned in another post about something taking place on the WT3 09 trek.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Le Parcour 09 (wt3 too) on 10/18/2009 16:29:01 MDT Print View


Dave and Kevin made up one group and Sam Haraldson and Matt Lutz made up another. Those were the only two groups to start as far as I'm aware. Sam and Matt made the decision to pull out due to various circumstances including avalanche risk on their planned route.


I apologize for making that bad, bad, bad typo. I fixed it on the post but I meant WT3 08. WT3 itself has been officially postponed until further notice as of a month or so ago.

Scott White
(sdwhitey) - F

Locale: Smoky Mountains
Re: Le Parcour '09 on 10/18/2009 16:57:39 MDT Print View

Thanks, Chris. I was thinking Le Parcour and WT3 were separate events but I just wasn't sure.

Did Ryan J participate? I think I remember reading that he was working on some sort of cyclocross bike for the event.

Did any of the participants utilize a packraft? I know the Parcour website mentioned that as an option but it seems like that would have been a challenge in the cold/snowy conditions.

Chris W
(simplespirit) - MLife

Locale: .
Re: Le Parcour '09 on 10/18/2009 17:10:34 MDT Print View

Ryan came down with the flu or something close and couldn't make it. No one used a packraft and from what I've heard from Kevin it would've been mostly impossible with the conditions (frozen rivers and low flows I believe).

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
rafts and routes on 10/18/2009 18:33:27 MDT Print View

Kevin and I (mostly Kevin) had picked our route a month or more ago, and the start worked to our advantage. We walked the highway seven miles west and picked up a NNW trending system of river valleys that got us 50+ miles in without ever even thinking of snowshoes. Our camp that first night still saw temps down to around -5F, and I had to hack a hole in the lake (through four inches of ice) with a rock to get water.

Given the cold we experienced, and the snow we saw at the pass, going up the CDT as Matt and Sam did would've been a serious slap in the face.

As for rafting, nothing we saw looked at all raftable save the Middle Fork of the Flathead, which you see Kevin wading across in the video. It was maybe running at 250 cfs (maybe) where we crossed near the mouth of Dolly Varden. Even on the Middle Fork, you'd have to get out for gravel bars, get your feet wet and frozen, etc. I don't know if they were normal October water levels, but they were not raft friendly.

If you had lots more water, you could have some good rafting, and hopefully be able to float some of the less interesting and more monotonous walking sections (down river valleys buried in the spruce canopy).

The Bob is cool.

twig .
(bretthartwig) - MLife

Locale: Australia
Le Parcour '09 on 10/18/2009 18:36:27 MDT Print View

Fantastic video Dave,
Congratulations on finishing!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
feet on 10/18/2009 18:37:02 MDT Print View

Chris, my feet hurt. Flip flops are the only shoes that allow reasonable mobility. I was pretty frustrated with myself for having less than bomber shoes, but managed it well and had no real choice in the end.

In our hotel room Friday evening I pulled off my fuzzy rubber socks and as Kevin walked by he said something to the effect of "Those smell infected, that's my professional opinion." Fortunately they seem to be healing up fine.

Zack Karas
( - MLife

Locale: Lake Tahoe
yikes. on 10/18/2009 19:01:52 MDT Print View

Crossing those frozen rivers must not have been the most relaxing aspect of your trek.