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Bob Marshall Wilderness Open – Eccentric But Not Insane
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Tad Englund
(bestbuilder) - F - MLife

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: Bob Marshall Wilderness Open – Eccentric But Not Insane on 06/05/2012 23:01:10 MDT Print View

Excellent report Dan, and thanks for your honesty about the adjustments to your planned route. Your ability to access your location, adjust the route in spite of a mix-up, maintaining the end goal is to be commended.
Do you ever worry about your knee and having a full blow-out making for a early bail-out? Does it hamper your pace often?

Edited by bestbuilder on 06/05/2012 23:01:51 MDT.

Brent Mahan

Locale: Southern New Hampshire
Excellent read on 06/06/2012 08:23:21 MDT Print View


Great TR. Exciting to read with good pictures. Sounds like an amazing trip and one you'll remember for a long time.

Thanks for sharing!

What an awesome experience

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Knee on 06/06/2012 13:29:34 MDT Print View

"Do you ever worry about your knee and having a full blow-out making for a early bail-out? Does it hamper your pace often?"

I've never had knee trouble before when hiking, but I do get some IT band inflammation on long runs (ie. 10 miles). I'm pretty confident that the IT band inflammation I got on this hike was almost entirely from the speedy 6 mile descent I made after taking the wrong turn. I'm not sure if it was my pace (really fast, long strides with lots of knee bending) or the pounding my knee(s) took as I dropped 2000' and 6 miles in 1:40, but either way it's something that I think I can avoid in the future by showing a bit more restraint on the descents and relying on the trekking poles more. Some stretching of the IT band beforehand would also help and I've learned a few of those.

So as I hoped, this event was a great opportunity to get to know my body better. I learned I can hike 40+ miles in a day, that I need to pay attention to my knees and that 18-20 hrs per day is quite repeatable for events like this, while the 23 hours I hiked on the last day was too much if I needed to hike again the day after. I had a lot of swelling and soreness the day after finishing, so I would have been heavily hampered by that if I still in the woods. Now I can recognize problems with my body a bit sooner and hike accordingly.

With all that said, having some sort of a Spot device would be nice in case a real injury or something else came up. When you're planning on a 3 day hike at this pace and you've instructed your wife to call SAR at 4.5 days, then you don't have a lot of extra time to nurse injuries. Had the knee not cleared up, I would have had to push hard to make it out in 4.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

BMWO - Greg's Report on 06/07/2012 19:36:47 MDT Print View

Greg posted his awesome adventure report here:

Warren Greer
(WarrenGreer) - F

Locale: SoCal
Excellent report on 06/09/2012 00:10:58 MDT Print View


Very well written and an engrossing read. All I can say is I would have had to hike on to the bridge, cause I am not getting in 38* water. As you know, I surf quite a bit. And when the temps drop below about 58* it is cold or at least I am. And that's with a 3/2 wetsuit and booties on and a lid if the outside temps are lower. Water in the mid 50's will give you an ice cream headache if your head goes under. Can only imagine how you felt (though you did such a great job describing it). You guys are real mountain men in those conditions. And some mileage coverers at that. Your pictures were also great as well. Makes me want to get up in the morning and get out.

Jason Ham

Locale: Ventura
What a Motivating Report! on 06/10/2012 13:53:32 MDT Print View


Congratulations on completing the trip ahead of the pack, despite the many hindrances you encountered! Those types of conditions can really put you to the test, and add to the satisfaction of a an accomplished journey. I find when I push myself beyond what I previously felt I could do(this may include being miserable during certain sections of the hike) I'm smiling for days afterward just thinking about the trip. It's TRs like yours that kick my butt when I'm feeling lazy and motivate me to condition harder than before!

Edited by jhamhb on 06/10/2012 13:54:46 MDT.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

BMWO - A few more pics on 06/20/2012 23:01:23 MDT Print View

I'm excited to be heading back to the Bob in a couple weeks. My wife and I are attempting a ~6 day hiking/rafting loop on Danaher Ck, S.Fork Flathead and N.Fork Sun River. Looks to be about 60 miles of walking and 40 miles of floating.

Here's a few more pictures from the BMWO. Such a great experience.

Chinese Wall in the Distance
bmwo 5

White and Grey - Along Juliet Creek / N. Fork White River

Fog Patches Along the White River

Edited by dandydan on 06/20/2012 23:07:12 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
fishing pole on 06/21/2012 07:33:33 MDT Print View

Dan- you guys will have a blast I'm sure, bring a fishing pole :)


Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: Re: Bob Marshall Wilderness Open – Eccentric But Not Insane on 06/21/2012 08:38:01 MDT Print View

Sounds like fun.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Fishing on 06/21/2012 16:28:11 MDT Print View

After years of reading Ryan Jordan extolling how amazing the cutthroat fishing is, I'm bringing the rod for sure.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: Fishing on 06/21/2012 17:00:20 MDT Print View

don't be too surprised if something unexpectedly makes mince meat of your line, there are some 12-15 lb bull trout lurking in those waters too :)

Michael Winslow
(bigcharlie) - M

Locale: Manhattan, NY
Grizzly Bears - Bob Marshall on 06/26/2012 12:38:43 MDT Print View


First off great trip report loved reading it and you are a really a brave guy.
Secondly want to ask about Grizzly Bears in the Bob Marshall. My two hiking buddies and I have the Bob Marshall on the calendar for 2013 or 2014 depending on when I can get away - we just got back from the Grand Canyon - and I wanted to ask about the Grizzly Bears in the Bob.
What sort of things did you do or think about before you did your hike?
Are there many encounters in the Bob?
Besides the spray did you have any idea what you would do if you had an encounter?
I know statistically speaking your chances of seeing one let alone encountering one is slim even though there are more in the Bob than most anywhere else but were you concerned. Were the other hikers?

Very curious about what hikers do about keeping safe other than the regular camping smart, making noise and bear spray.

Any thoughts on this would be really appreciated.

Thanks much

Mike Winslow - New York, NY - Backpacker

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Bob Marshall bears on 06/26/2012 13:12:41 MDT Print View

Late on the first evening out (930ish) I came up a short hill along the S Fork of the Sun into a meadow and was about 60 feet away from a smaller adult Griz. It stood up on back legs and spent a good minute trying to figure out what I was. Once it did it ran off.

I'd start by reading Steve Herrero's "Bear Attacks," then do more research from there. Safety protocols in bear country should be guided by your own knowledge and preferences.

Richard Lyon
(richardglyon) - MLife

Locale: Bridger Mountains
Grizzlies in the Bob on 06/26/2012 20:34:06 MDT Print View

I've seen several - all from a great distance, thank goodness - and seen signs, such as scat, tree markings, and tracks, uncomfortably close to camp. About all I can recommend beyond standard bear protocols is not to hike from twilight until well after dawn. Bears and other game use the trails too, and it's on or near the trails that I've seen evidence of their presence.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Grizzlies on 06/26/2012 22:39:28 MDT Print View

I personally break down hiking in grizzly country into 3 steps:

1) Avoiding Encounters
2) Managing Encounters
3) Managing Attacks

You really need to have a plan for each and only if all three go wrong do you wind up hurt.

To avoid encounters, you need to consider where you're hiking, the time of day, the time of year, bear evidence, vegetation, terrain et al. Then based on your on-going mental risk assessment you can decide if you're going to hike freely, hiking while making noise, not hike, hike somewhere else etc.

Managing encounters is a big subject and a very important one since if you hike long enough in grizzly country then eventually you'll run into one. I ran into one a few years ago in BC and see them regularly up here in the arctic where I work. Based on a quick judgement call about the bears mindstate (ie. curious, surprised, predatory etc) you can take the appropriate action. I'm not going to go into that here since it's a huge discussion. The reason I hike in grizzly country is because I know very few encounters are predatory, so my odds are extremely good of things never progressing beyond this step if I do a good job with #1 and #2.

The final step is where the bear spray comes in, which means you'll almost certainly never use it. Things like bear spray, playing dead, fighting back etc all come into play here depending on your choices.

Overall, have a solid idea of your basic response strategies before heading into the woods, because if you haven't thought it thru then you likely won't make the best choices in the moment.

Edited by dandydan on 06/27/2012 21:29:11 MDT.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
grizzlies on 06/27/2012 12:51:35 MDT Print View

depending on how long your trip, is I'd say you have a better than fair chance of seeing a grizzly in the Bob, when I worked there we were in for ten days at a time and I don't recall many hitches where I didn't see at least one grizzly

I also recommend you thoroughly read up on the subject, the better informed you are the better off both you and mr. grizzly are :)

they are an magnificent animal to see in the wild and it's very rare that it turns ugly, but it does happen, so it behooves anyone traveling in grizzly country to be well versed in dealing with encounters

Michael Winslow
(bigcharlie) - M

Locale: Manhattan, NY
Re: Grizzlies on 07/05/2012 09:22:20 MDT Print View

Thanks a lot really appreciate it!

Mark Ries
(mtmnmark) - M

Locale: IOWAHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!
Grizzles on 07/05/2012 12:37:46 MDT Print View

Some very good comments and all sound, sane and obviously educated advise so far. This site needs more education on this subject but every discussion seems to end up so counter productive that I hate even seeing it start. Saying its always ok to always sleep with your food and not carry bear spray cause "Ive never had problems" and "the risk is so low" is like saying there is no need to drive defensively cause ive never been in a wreck.

Chris Muthig
(cmuthig) - M

Locale: Georgia
Skills Needed on 07/05/2012 19:14:33 MDT Print View

While this thread is a bit focused on skills, I thought I would ask a question. I've recently started my first real job out of college, and so I have a lot less time, but a lot more money. I am looking to do trips that cost a bit more money, but put a lot more experiences into less time.

With that in mind, I am hoping to compete in the BMWO next year. I'm located down in Georgia, so our seasons are quite a bit different than that of Montana. So I will probably do most of my skill training during this winter because those are about as challenging as times get here and want to be sure I know what kind of things I should focus on so not to waste time.

For anyone who competed or has experiences in the Bob, what skills would you suggest I focus on? Travel techniques, coping with weather, etc. I appreciate any thoughts and tips.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

Skills on 07/10/2012 17:43:18 MDT Print View

What skills would you suggest I focus on?"

Great to hear you're thinking of showing up. There's certainly a lot of skills that are helpful for a hike like this. I feel a bit weird even offering advice on this because I have so much learning to do myself, but I'll try to share a bit of what I've learned.

A basic competency in some skills is pretty much essential (ie. navigation, clothing choices), while others skills can be quite helpful but if you lack them then you can compensate with your gear and route choices (ie. packrafting, river fording etc). So considering which skills are essential and which ones are optional may help illuminate the best areas to work on. As an example, I made the choice early on that I wasn't going to packraft the 2012 BMWO because I lacked the paddling skills, familiarity with the local rivers and cold weather paddling clothing to do so safely. I could have working on developing in these areas, but I chose to focus elsewhere.

Navigation and cold/wet weather clothing choices are two skill areas that are pretty much required. You don't need to be the best navigator (I'm certainly far from it) but you need a basic competency and then you can work from there. If you're so-so navigator, you may be able to account for that with your gear choices (ie. altimeter, gps) and route choices (ie. simpler terrain). Knowing basic skills like map/compass is essential. This is one of the areas I want to improve most upon for 2013. Here's a good website with info on this:

Cold/wet weather clothing is another important area. To some degree you can account for this by taking more clothing, but it's ideal to get your clothing selection refined. I was very happy with my clothing choices in 2012 (see gearlist in my profile) but the weather conditions could be wildly different next year and each person is different both physically and in their hiking styles.

Knowing your own body is another skill/knowledge area that is pretty important. On one hand it's interesting to push beyond what you've ever done before, but it's still good to have a decent idea of how your body is going to respond. Knowing how many hours/day you'll be able to hike and how much sleep you need affects other choices like food, clothing and sleeping equipment. I'd recommend doing a couple high milage one nighters in advance.

Other helpful skills include snow travel, grizzly encounters, water crossings, avalanches etc. You can make choices to minimize your exposure in all of these areas though. For example, Stadler and Larch Hill passes have quite a bit lower exposure to avy risk than White pass.

Snow travel is one of the toughest areas to really plan for this far ahead. The route was do-able without snow shoes last year, although they were certainly handy at times. Taking some small/light snowshoes (ie. a kids model) like Dave C. did was probably the best snow travel choice in 2012.

I'd recommend picking up the North and South halves of the Bob map and getting familiar with the general area early on even though the start/finish points haven't been finalized yet. It doesn't sound like they're going to change too much though, so you could put together a few possible routes and perhaps come up with a tentative strategy from there and start to mull over aspects like snow travel, water crossings/travel etc.

Edited by dandydan on 07/10/2012 17:43:56 MDT.