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2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open
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Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open on 05/29/2013 15:29:28 MDT Print View

> Seeing the Chinese Wall with solid snow and only my set of prints stretching behind me was some of the finest miles I have hiked.


Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Re: The Straight-Forward Trip Report on 05/29/2013 16:02:10 MDT Print View

Great trip report and cool photos. That makes me want to go out there.



David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: straight forward on 05/29/2013 16:18:17 MDT Print View

Malto, those are some extremely impressive miles. Way to haul, and do it in style.

Next step would be the Wilderness Classic. Want a partner for next year?

Chris Johnson
Made it! on 05/29/2013 16:38:52 MDT Print View

Sam and I made it out yesterday afternoon! Will post pics and an update soon.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
re: straight forward on 05/29/2013 16:57:14 MDT Print View

I could really see getting into pack rafting though I doubt there are many good streams to raft in PA.

Not sure where you are in PA, but on the western side there's the Clarion, Stony Creek, Yough, and a little further south the Cheat and New River Gorge. Northeast is the Delaware Water Gap (tons of NJ tourists in summer though). I think I've heard the Upper Susquehanna is worth a look, though I haven't been there myself.

Nice report!

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

BMWO on 05/30/2013 15:41:22 MDT Print View

Great trip report Malto. It was great to hike with you Saturday. That's an excellent route and achievement.

My trip report is now up in the trip reports section:

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
Cyrus on 05/31/2013 16:10:34 MDT Print View

Have Cyrus and Katie exited yet?

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
No word on 05/31/2013 16:25:31 MDT Print View

On Cyrus. Want to hear how your trip turned out. Trip report?

Greg Gedney
(ggedney) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountain Region
BMWO Survivors on 05/31/2013 20:34:42 MDT Print View

White Pass, White Rivers, White Water: The 2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open—Western Approach
Greg Gedney

Dawn broke cold and clear for eleven of us who gathered at the Benchmark Trailhead for this year’s attempt at BMWO. Several were returning from last year’s attempts and several more were out for their first run. Returnees Dan Durston and I had decided earlier to team up for this year’s event. Our route would take us up and over White Pass to the White River, where we anticipated some sporty rafting, then down to the SF Flathead River, terminating above Hungry Horse Reservoir at the Twin Creeks takeout. From there our path would cross the northern end of Dean Ridge, at the headwaters of the Twin Creek drainages and down Long Valley to the Middle Fork of the Flathead and on to the finish at Bear Creek. Weather conditions were far better than last year and we anticipated making a quick run of the course.
iGames faces set, participants listen to expected trail and weather conditions./i

Shortly after 8 AM and with all necessary preparations, ethics expectations and warnings dispensed, Dan, myself and Greg (AKA Hiking Malto) strode out of the parking lot at a brisk 3+mph pace and set off for the bridge crossing over the West Fork of the Sun River, about 4.6 miles distance.iWest Fork of the Sun River/i

By 9:30 we were across the West Fork and headed upriver to Indian Point. This was a portion of the same route I took last year, only this time without the fresh snow, rain and mud that so plagued the trail in 2012. Hiking Malto was in the mood to make tracks and it was not long until the three of us were spread out along the trail. This time I stopped to take pictures that I was unable to take last year due to the camera repeatedly fogging up.iDan trekking through open Meadows with Scarlet Mountain (8164’) in the background/iiWorking our way up Indian Creek toward White Pass./i

After fording across the WF Sun River at the mouth of Indian Creek, Dan and I headed upstream toward White Pass followed by the only mosquitos we would encounter the entire trip. Along the trail a set of large wolf prints led past us in the other direction. While I can’t completely swear on it, I’m sure the wolf that left these prints was the same one whose prints I saw on the trail the follows the SF White River last year, one valley over and about 6 miles to the south. For me it almost felt like a homecoming of sorts.

Remnants and tendrils of the winter’s avalanches still clogged many of the chutes that led down from high on the side of Red Butte. I noted with interest that many of the logs that had been pushed down from above now lay scattered and stacked, sometimes twisted around corners and pushed far down the stream bed that lay below In other places the fury of the seasons’ slides had been replaced by tranquil streams and fields of yellow, blue and orange flowers.iBroken piles of tree trunks and detritus left behind from multiple avalanches/i

For a short time Dan and I followed two sets of fresh footprints left by a couple of early season explorers whose tent camp we passed back along the SF of the West Sun. We thought they might actually lead us up into the snowfields that beckoned from above, but they petered out shortly after the avalanche chutes and we were once again completely on our own.

Somewhere off in the distance I heard a hawk cry out, its voice soon carried away in the wind. Fresh water was not hard to find and we filled and drank from our water bottles frequently in anticipation of deeper snow ahead. Last year I had issues with dehydration in this mountain range and ended up eating a lot of snow trying to make up for that deficiency. This year I was determined not to repeat my mistake.

The wolf tracks continued to greet us as we climbed above 6500’. We rounded a corner and faced the Indian Creek Basin in front of us. I could tell that the snow on the leeward (eastern) side of the pass was not as deep as last year. I could see cornices on many of the ridgelines around us, but nothing too loaded at the pass summit ahead. Several head of elk had crossed the pass from the west and their tracks now headed past us and down the valley. Perhaps my trepidation about the conditions we might find was proving misplaced after all.iRounding the corner at 6700”to face the Indian Creek Basin above./i

By 1:00 PM we were in solid snow and working our way up the drainage toward the saddle that makes up White Pass. We could see long lines of elk tracks leading down from the shoulder of the pass. After a final water bottle fill-up we pushed hard to reach the top of the pass at 2:00 PM. The snow on the western side of the pass was less firm and we broke through several times to our hips. I noticed that with my KEEN Mid Voyager boots I broke through less frequently than Dan, even given that our weights were nearly the same. The narrower insole of his shoes did not support him on top of the snow as well as my wider footprint. Neither of us needed our snow shoes on the climb, they became but mere passengers on our backs as we crossed the second summit line and descended into the Molly Creek Basin.

The snow on the descent was soft and we slid/ran/shoe skied down the other side until we came across the trail just coming out from under the snow pack. Here the trail was wet and thick with mud, similar to last year. I noticed with some amusement that the lone wolf whose tracks I had been watching with interest on the way up had also left his tracks all the way up the trail from the western side of the pass.iDan breaking trail on the eastern side of White Pass./iiWhite Pass Summit looking to the northwest./iiWhite Pass Summit/iiIn the mid-distance lies Junction Mt., in the far distance lies the Flathead Alps./i

We covered the roughly 6 miles from the summit to the confluence of the White Rivers in about two hours, arriving at 4:00 PM. Dan’s Trip Report does a great job of describing the fun we had freezing ourselves in the class II and III rapids on our way down the White River. I recall at one point sitting in 8” of ice water after the Velcro on the side of my spray skirt was overwhelmed by wave action. I also recall that after about an hour my legs began to cramp up from sitting in pools of ice water.

On the way down the river we watched as a loon made its way effortlessly through the rapids, bobbing along without a care in the world. At one point, about halfway down, I spooked a large Bald Eagle off the upturned roots of a river-washed log. It lifted off and flew on down the valley to someplace where it would not be disturbed again.

We made the confluence with the SF of the Flathead River a little after 6:00 PM and immediately headed down stream. This was a section I rafted last year and knew it would be easy going. While on the river we observed an osprey snatch a fish from the river and start flying upriver to its nest, prominently built on top of a tall standing snag on the banks of the river. However, once it drew near Dan the bird let the fish drop from a height of about 50 meters. It hit the water with a resounding splash -- one lucky fish.

At around 8:20 PM we passed Black Bear Creek and I had my closest call of the trip. Unknown to me (or Dan for that matter), at that location there exists a narrow slot with (at the CFS the river was running) a vicious hole on the backside. Dan went first and I followed. Dan seemed to clear it without incident but I foolishly slid to the left and right into the hole. Within seconds I was fighting a battle to avoid being pulled backward into the current rushing through the gap. I had to paddle as hard as any section of river I’ve ever been on (with some exceptions in Alaska) to dig myself out of the hole before being overturned and swamped in the roiling waters.

My arms were about to give out when I caught just enough of a side current to lift myself out and reestablish my path down the main river current. By now, I kind of wanted off the river. But we both were aiming to get to the Mid-Creek takeout by dark, around an hour downstream. Dan reports best on what happened but from my vantage point I witnessed the following: At 9:20 PM we came upon an unexpected slot with a large “limbo” log jammed across the entrance. The log was about eight feet above the water and Dan set up to shoot though the slot. I saw Dan enter, pitch bow up, at a crazy 45 degree angle, hang and drop left. I was sure he had flipped as he disappeared around the corner.iDan’s swimming hole with a log jammed across the entrance./i

I pulled my raft to the western bank and halted. I could not have cut to the eastern bank in time without also sliding into the slot. I had 6” of ice water in the raft at the time and there was no way I was going to attempt that slot after seeing what happened to Dan. It took me about 10 minutes to get my cramped legs to get to the top of the rocks that framed the slot and look downstream, but no Dan.

I drained the raft, portaged the slot and set up on top of the rocks that formed the chute. By then it was too dark to climb back down the other side and set off after Dan. I had to spend the night on top of the rocks. Shaking badly from the cold and perhaps a little dread, I made a fire and cooked a hot meal. That night every thing froze and it took me until 7:40 AM to once again set off. By the time I reached the Mid-Creek takeout, Dan (as he reported) had a three-hour head start on me and I could not catch him. But I had seen his footprints and at least I knew he was Ok!!iCamping spot above the river while drying out clothes./iiMid Creek Gorge, from trail above./iiClose-up of Mid Creek Gorge, running at 8000 cfs./i

I put back into the river below the Meadow Creek Landing strip and had an uneventful trip the rest of the way to the Twin Creek Takeout. Meeting a US Forest Service Ranger on the road to the Lower Twin Creek Trailhead I left a message for my wife as to when I thought I would get out and headed up the trail. The Cairn Map suggested that the trail up Lower Twin Creek would be rough and hard to follow. Fortunately, a trail crew had cleared the trail this past fall and it was an easy follow. Deep snow and side hilling greeted me near the top of the pass just as light was beginning to fade. I made the top of the pass at 9:07 PM and quickly descended into Long Valley below. By 10:00 PM I was out of light and set a camp in a tree well to wait out the night by a fire. I used my Bivvy bag to get about 6 hours of sleep.iFirm snow made the going relatively easy on both sides of Lower Twin Creek Pass./iiSundown on top of the divide between Lower Twin Creek and Long Valley./i

The next morning I headed out at 5:20 AM and within 30 minutes found Dan’s footprints leading down the valley through the snow. I also noted a set of fresh Grizzly tracks were following Dan’s. I assume I camped within a half mile of the bear that night as the tracks did not continue down the valley for long before turning to the side and disappearing into the woods and back up the valley.

The hike down the valley was straight forward and by 9:00 AM I was at the banks of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River. I rafted less than one mile through two sets of rapids before calling it quits, taking my rafting victories and heading home.iLast Rapid before pulling out of the Middle Fork and the trail to the Bear Creek Trailhead./i

I arrived at the Bear Creek Trailhead to find Dave hanging out with Kate. We shared a couple of beers and had a few laughs before heading into town to meet up with M. My total time was 53.5 hours to cover the 97 miles. Next year I am going to take a lighter pack as I ended up not using my snowshoes. I also ended up with extra food; it’s going on my next summer trip shortly. My feet are in far better shape than the pounding they took last year too, a testament to the help I got from rafting this year.iBeer:30 at the Bear Creek Trailhead!/i

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

BWMO on 06/01/2013 07:53:50 MDT Print View

Awesome report (and trip) Greg. Looks like the second year that darkness got you trapped along the south fork.

I'd nearly forgotten about that Osprey already. It was great to read about all the signs of fauna (elk, wolf). In addition to the elk we saw along the south fork, I also ran into a nice one in the burn area of Long Creek.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
BWMO on 06/01/2013 08:31:43 MDT Print View

Greg, that was a great read, with fine photos. You guys are amazing.

Cyrus Dietz

Locale: Midwest
BMWO 2013 on 06/01/2013 08:51:40 MDT Print View

Kate and I are back home in Minnesota and relaxing. We followed the same route as Dave up the west side of the sun, and made the same river crossing decision at Lick creek (opting to ferry the north fork in the calm section). As for 25 mile creek... I was shocked anyone found a way through that. Kate and I made the decision to boat around it on the Middle fork, a decision we were very satisfied with. Kate is working on a video trip report and I am sure she will be sharing it with everyone soon.

I really want to thank everyone that participated in this, it was really nice to meet all of you and I hope we find time to hang out again.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Twenty five mile creek on 06/01/2013 10:30:51 MDT Print View

I crossed just upstream of the trail, just below the log jam. It break the current into thirds. The last section was short but rapids. One other thing to keep in mind, you may have had higher water levels if you hit the creek later than the rest of us. I will say I have never scouted a crossing as long as that one. Glad to hear you're back. Hope to sea full report, with Kate's videos!

Great trip report. Sounds like we virtually shared luxury accommodations Saturday night.

Edited by gg-man on 06/01/2013 11:18:55 MDT.

Greg Gedney
(ggedney) - MLife

Locale: Rocky Mountain Region
BMWO Survivors on 06/01/2013 10:44:32 MDT Print View

John, how was your trip this year? Did you make it all the way out? Kate and I saw your car at the trailhead on Tuesday afternnon and were thinking about you.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
John's Trip on 06/01/2013 11:47:29 MDT Print View

I traveled mostly of way with Andrew and Chris, finishing 1:04 AM Wednesday morning. As others mentioned, Lodgepole and Twenty Five Mile creeks presented some... challenges :)

The other obstacle for me was that my Achilles tendon started hurting, which is something I've not experienced before. The creeks proved to be effective ice packs though, so the water crossings ended up being a mixed blessing for me after all.

I've compiled a bunch of notes and will write them into a TR soon.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
25 mile creek on 06/01/2013 19:14:36 MDT Print View

We had dinner with Andrew and Chris Wednesday night. 25 Mile certainly gave them some troubles.

I camped on the eastern side Sunday night, partly because I was bushed and it had a dry tree and ready wood, and partly because the crossing looked burly. The next morning I crossed right above the trail to give myself a bit of leeway should I get pushed downstream. It seemed like the level had dropped a decent bit overnight, but that might have just been added courage from a good nights sleep. I faced upstream and leaned hard into a trekking pole. Waist deep and fast, but not too bad. I did put my PFD on as extra insurance.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
2014 Bob course on 06/03/2013 13:37:30 MDT Print View

Looks like 100% finish rate. Amazing what good weather will do.

Looking for feedback on a course for 2014. Longer? Shorter? (Not gonna happen) Concrete ideas on start and end point?

I've discussed moving it away from the Bob complex, but that won't happen next year. The mixed geography and scale of the Bob works well for our needs. The only real downside is the massive shuttle from start to finish, but there is simply no way around that. A traverse has a different dynamic than a loop, and nothing else will do.

One thing I would like to do is arrange for a cabin or some kind of accomodation to promote more socializing at the start. My only regret this year was that life did not allow me to get the start earlier and spend more time talking with everyone.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
2014 Course on 06/03/2013 17:15:25 MDT Print View

As an audit of one's outdoor abilities the length seems about right to me. Both years' traverses have allowed for both packrafting and foot options. I'm not sure how the format could be altered much. The Memorial Day weather seems to carry an interesting level of uncertainty to it that is part of the appeal.

An argument can be made that the "winner" of the Open is the person who traverses the most [insert your adjective here] route, so perhaps more recognition could be offered to encourage creative-bold-scenic-challenging routes, or not, according to each participant's measure. I note that the winner of the original World Series of Poker was proclaimed by a vote of the participants before the current format was adopted.

I agree that the biggest thing lacking has been a pre-function gathering of some sort. Luckily, I arrived at Bear Creek early and had an opportunity to interact with folks a bit before the carpools dispersed.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - F

2014 BMWO on 06/03/2013 18:06:29 MDT Print View

Longer is always good, but more importantly just not significantly shorter. I'll have a look at the maps.

Are we allowed to propose a course that crosses parts of the Bob and Glacier?

A cabin would be great for pre-event socialization and allow it even in poor weather.

Edited by dandydan on 06/03/2013 18:08:05 MDT.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open on 06/03/2013 18:11:07 MDT Print View

I think avoiding National Park Service territory would be advised. USFS, BLM, FWP lands probably ok.