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Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Chris and Andrew's 2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open Trip Report on 06/03/2013 12:57:23 MDT Print View

Living in California, it's easy to get complacent and only go backpacking when the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Following Dave's excellent blog and trip reports from the likes of Ike Jutkowitz, Andy Duncan and others has made me realize that not only can more challenging conditions provide a great learning experience & sense of mastery of outdoor skills, being in the wilderness in all conditions can be lots of fun too. The Bob Marshall Wilderness Open seemed like a fantastic way to get some more experience having fun in "bad weather" with the side benefit of meeting some of the forum's more interesting personalities. I somehow managed to convince Chris Steutterman that this whole thing was a good idea too, and we booked our plane tickets to Kalispell back in February. Much planning ensued, and the genius in an open ended event in uncertain conditions became apparent - your fears are quickly revealed when forced to stare at a blank slate. How big are the river crossings going to be? Do we need snowshoes? Is it going to be 33F and raining for days at a time? Will I be able to get a fire going if everything is soaked? Am I going to get eaten by a grizzly bear, or perhaps even by Dave Chenault himself?


Fresh Chenault tracks deep in the backcountry.

Since I can count the number of times I've been rained on backpacking in the last 5 years on one hand, it seemed prudent to do a few training trips beforehand to prepare for spring in Montana. Despite our best efforts, we never did see any rain and the worst we could do was find some rotten snow to posthole through and a few medium-sized river crossings, but the mileage was there and we were pretty confident that we could pull this thing off. We planned a route that followed the South Fork of the Sun River from the trailhead to Gibson Reservoir, where we then followed the spectacular North Fork of the Sun all the way to its headwaters at Sun River Pass (6400'). Then, once into the drainage of the Middle Fork of the Flathead River, we would follow the Middle Fork all the way to the finish at Bear Creek. The course this year was long and committing for hikers, with the hardest river crossings coming near the end with few attractive options for bailing.

After catching a ride with Cyrus & Kate to the start and an enjoyable evening hanging out with the other participants, we awoke to beautiful weather on Saturday morning. During the first few miles our pace lined up well with John St Laurent, who had planned a similar itinerary to Chris and I. We ended up spending almost the entire trip with John, which turned out to be a very effective partnership. The first two days were fast and easy with lots of beautiful scenery to keep our cameras clicking away. Perfect weather combined with a river forecast for a dip in flows on late Sunday kept us moving quickly, though - we wanted to take advantage of the lower flows to get across the more difficult crossings. Based on our planning, the biggest crossings would be Strawberry Creek, Lodgepole Creek and Granite Creek with a few other smaller but faster crossings thrown in. Strawberry looked to be by far the biggest, and so we hauled ass to get across it by Sunday evening before the flows came back up.


Pre-race safety meeting.


The beautiful valley of the South Fork of the Sun River.


Packbridge over the Sun River at Gibson Reservoir.


Hiking up to Arsenic Creek near Gibson Reservoir to avoid private property boundaries.

We spent the first night at the packbridge near Gates Park after 27 miles of easy walking. There wasn't much in the way of blowdowns despite miles of burned forest, and the long daylight hours (sunrise around 5:45AM and sunset around 9:45PM) made it easy to rack up the miles. That night was pretty cold though not freezing, and we continued up the North Fork of the Sun to what was the visual highlight of the entire journey. The terrain opened up into beautiful prairie and we got some great views of the Chinese Wall and the Continental Divide. Shortly after Lick Creek we started seeing Dave's footprints which couldn't have been more than a few hours old and we felt like we were on the right track. There was some blowdown on the way to Sun River Pass, but the sun was shining and we still managed to make good time. Somewhere close to the pass John's achilles started acting up, and we lost him at a confusing intersection right below the pass. Wanting to cross Strawberry Creek before the flows came back up, Chris and I pressed on and made the crossing at around 7:30PM that night.


Beautiful terrain on the North Fork of the Sun River.


Feeling good.


Biggs Creek


Anyone care to speculate what animal made this? Big coyote? We hadn't seen other human or canine footprints for hours.


Camp and a nice fire to dry stuff out near Gates Park.


Elk herd near Sun River Pass. John said he counted 45.


Few miles of blowdown near the pass.


We made Sun River Pass around 3PM Sunday. A growing thunderstorm reminded us that it was Memorial Day weekend.

Fortunately Strawberry Creek turned out to be no challenge at all, despite our anxiety while planning the trip. It was wide, but never more than about knee deep and the current was very slow. I felt a great sense of relief when I saw the crossing, because it meant we wouldn't have to bail out via an alternate route that we had planned over Badger Pass. Dave's footprints went into the water but never came out the other side, so we figured that he had put in his raft there and that from there on he would be way ahead of us. We made the crossing at about 6PM and continued on down the trail to Gooseberry Park ranger cabin where we called it an early night at 8PM. We hoped John would catch up to us, but we didn't end up seeing him until the next day. The guard station was a nice treat, with drop-dead gorgeous views up and downriver as well as a sheltered overhang. We threw our pads down on the bone-dry porch and enjoyed the rest of the evening as a light drizzle misted the valley. We celebrated making the Strawberry crossing with some dehydrated birthday cake and Nutella my wife had made for us. We would later chuckle at our premature celebrations... it turned out the Bob wasn't done with us yet.


Strawberry Creek ford.


New scenery as we follow the Middle Fork of the Flathead.


Gooseberry Guard Station, our camp for the night.


Clearing storm over the Middle Fork. This spot definitely made me feel like I was on vacation and not just trying to go fast.

The storm mostly cleared up overnight, and we were treated to killer views down the Middle Fork through the remaining low-hanging mist. The next two crossings, Cox Creek and Callbick Creek, were uneventful and the blowdown was mostly gone after Gooseberry Park. We ran into a trail crew early in the morning, and got some stream beta from them and thanked them for making our lives easier. We made good time to the Schafer airstrip.








Busy day at Schafer.

It was at this point that things got interesting. We made it to the confluence of Lodgepole Creek and the Middle Fork around 3PM. Somewhere after Schafer we had picked up Greg Gressel's footprints after he forded the Middle Fork, and his footprints disappeared straight into Lodgepole Creek in front of us. However, the creek was a mess of boiling water with waves and some big rocks in the short distance between the ford and when you would get forcefully ejected into the Middle Fork. Had Greg really crossed here? Had the water risen significantly overnight? One look at the crossing and we both knew we wouldn't be fording the creek there. We walked about 200 yards upstream to where our map showed a second crossing, and this one looked more reasonable. However, most of the flow went through a deep channel on the far side next to an eroding cliff bank. We sealed up our packs and found some stout branches (in order to not lose our hiking poles if we had to swim) and I made it about halfway across, where the main channel of the creek got much deeper and faster. It was clear to me that if I went any further, I'd be swimming with a poor exit on the far side. When planning the trip, Chris and I had decided that we would be pretty conservative when it came to the river crossings - neither of us wanted to voluntarily swim.

We backtracked to the shore, and upon consulting the map we saw that there was another crossing a few miles upstream that might offer an easier opportunity. After a futile attempt to take a straight line off trail through the downed trees, we cut back to the trail and walked the 2 miles or so to the upper crossing. It was a little better - wider (about 50 feet wide here) and with no deep channel - but it was still waist deep and forceful. I walked about 10 feet out into the creek again, and it became difficult to keep my balance as the water came up to my thighs. With deeper water ahead, I retreated back to the shore and we considered our options. It was around this time that the Bob Marshall Wilderness felt like it was earning the capital "W". Just as we were beginning to consider the long walk around via Schafer, John appeared out of the woods. His Achilles was still bothering him, but he was making pretty good time on the trail anyway. He too took an exploratory trip out into the creek, and decided that it would probably require swimming and that the steep riverbank and willows on the far side would make a poor exit. John asked if we had looked downstream, and I realized it hadn't even occured to me to look that way. When we were off-trail, we got a good look at the river and didn't see any easy way across from up on the hill, so I figured it was futile. But just out of sight downstream of the crossing, a lone tree had fallen across the creek and completely bridged the gap. It was too narrow to walk across - about 8" on our side of the river - so we all ungracefully butt-scooched across, saving ourselves 25+ miles of detour in the process. By this point we had wasted about 3.5 hours looking around for a crossing, and it was getting late, so we camped shortly afterwards, grateful to be across the creek.


Lodgepole Creek.


A mile of 'shwacking stood between us and the Middle Fork trail in the morning. We were grateful to have Chris's GPS for this section.


The Middle Fork was especially beautiful when we got back to it, with big gravel bars covered in aspen and wildflowers.

At this point we figured we might have more challenge left than we had originally thought when we made it over Strawberry Creek. The Granite Creek crossing was up ahead, and it looked like it drained a similar basin to Lodgepole but had a much steeper gradient. Fortunately when we got there, it wasn't too bad and we found an easy spot where the current split in two around a gravel bar. It was never more than knee deep and wasn't pushy. There was a nice gravel bar on the far side, and we took an extended lunch break to refuel and dry our stuff out around a small fire. Doing the math, it was about 11:30AM and we had roughly 20 miles to the trailhead - despite sore legs we figured we were home free & would be finished before dark that night.


John at the Granite Creek crossing.


Lunch break on the far side.

The Bob wasn't quite done with us yet though. We chugged along for a few more miles along the Middle Fork, when the noise from the water got a little louder and I looked down the hill. "That's odd. Why does it look like the Middle Fork is flowing backwards?" I wondered. A quick consult of the map showed that the raging torrent below us was in fact Twentyfive Mile Creek, which we had discounted as being a relatively easy crossing due to having a smaller drainage than any of the other big crossings we had to do. But we had failed to notice that Twentyfive Mile drops about 300 feet in the last 1/2 mile to the Middle Fork, and the trail crossing looked to be waist deep and faster than any of the others we had seen. I noticed that about a half mile upstream, the river leveled out and only dropped about 30 feet in a similar distance, so we decided to head upstream until we could find a safer way across. This turned out to be easier said than done, and after a few hundred yards of following an old trail we encountered many downed trees and thick brush. It took us roughly an hour and 15 minutes to travel the half mile upstream, and I think we lost some dignity (as well as one of Chris's socks) in the process. But once we got to the flatter part, the crossing was again wider and slower and presented no problems at all. Thankfully there was a trail on the north side, so the 1/2 mile return trip took just a few minutes and we were back on track.

At this point we were done declaring victory until we were actually standing in the parking lot, and the words of the trail crew came back to memory. They had mentioned Spruce Creek, which is pretty small and just 4 miles from the car, as being a difficult crossing when they went through there 2 weeks ago, and had mentioned that they had to crawl across a log to get across it safely. We spent the next 3 hours hiking through Spruce Park in the dark with a sense of dread that we would get shut down by that thing at the bitter end, but when we got there it turned out to be not even knee deep. I guess the water there was a lot higher two weeks ago when the Flathead was at flood stage. The final 4 miles back to the car was a bit of a blur, and we made it out just after 1AM to the eerie and surreal sounds of a freight train chugging over Marias Pass.


John and Andrew on the far side of Spruce Creek.

Overall it was a great trip, and the uncertainty up til the very end made for an engaging and educational experience. I learned a lot, both preparing for the Open and from the Open itself, and I certainly feel like a more capable hiker as a result. I've learned that you can enjoy yourself outside 365 days a year, and that there is no such thing as the "off season". It was great hiking with Chris and John, and surprisingly despite the obstacles I think almost all of this trip was Type I fun. Dave and Meredith, thanks for your hospitality in taking us out in Kalispell, you two seem like good people. And of course, thanks for organizing the Open - I suspect I'll be back again next year.

Edited by andrew.f on 06/03/2013 14:23:04 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: Bob Open on 06/03/2013 13:29:22 MDT Print View

That's definitely a wolf track.

Great report, and great job being deliberate and patient to stay within your comfort levels on the creek crossings. Looking at your photos, there was significant fluctuation in level day to day and hour to hour. Hope we can hike together some day.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Chris and Andrew's 2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open Trip Report on 06/03/2013 13:58:07 MDT Print View

Enjoyed this very much, thanks.

Steven Paris
(saparisor) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Chris and Andrew's 2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open Trip Report on 06/03/2013 14:08:45 MDT Print View

"Am I going to get eaten by a grizzly bear, or perhaps even by Dave Chenault himself?"

I like that line.

Really cool TR from this adventure. Thanks for posting it!

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: Chris and Andrew's 2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open Trip Report on 06/03/2013 15:07:33 MDT Print View

Great report. I can really relate to your "the middle fork is flowing backwards" comment. Twenty five mile was a rude surprise. As far as Lodgepole I cross at the trail but I bit the dust and did a face plant at the end. I was way too cocky from successfully making it over the Middle Fork the day before. Kudos for taking the time to scout out crossing options. I know I often try to rush crossings. Sounds like you had a good trip. Hope to see you at the Bob open in '14. Or will it be the Glacier open? Hint, hint.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
John's Experience on 06/03/2013 16:35:57 MDT Print View

Day 1: Benchmark Campground to Sun River Pack Bridge

Being a returning participant, preparing for this year’s Open contained a bit less uncertainty (being familiar with the geography and other conditions) and a bit more apprehension (having a better understanding of what I was getting myself into). Even the apprehension dissolved as I began to interact with fellow travelers at the carpool, dinner, or camp, absorbing their infectious energy. By the morning of the start all that was left was the knowledge that the time for talk had ended and the time for action had arrived.

My route this year was a straightforward 96 miles by foot: up the Sun River valley, over Sun River Pass, down the Middle Fork of the Flathead River valley, with several large stream crossings expected.

While I had planned a solo traverse, I found myself matching pace with Chris and Andrew, the team from California. The first day’s miles passed quickly in pleasant weather. The West Fork looked like a wonderful float, and I found myself envying the packrafters.

Sun River Trail

We decided to follow the east bank of the river since I knew from the previous year that it would likely be free of deadfall, but this necessitated crossing the river at the ranch, which led to some detouring around private property. From there, the route followed my bail route from last year to the pack bridge near Gates Park. Like the previous year, large amount of game was encountered, although in this case too many to fit in a single camera frame. I counted 45 head at one point.

Elk

As planned, we stopped at the pack camp near the bridge and enjoyed a fire. That night would prove quite cold, with several items freezing overnight.

Pack Bridge


Day 2: Sun River Bridge to Strawberry Creek
In contrast to the previous night, Sunday turned out to be quite warm, so much so that sunburn became the unexpected frontrunner in the list of environmental challenges. As the day developed, a new nemesis emerged: deadfall. The upper Sun River valley is littered with it. Still fresh, the obstacles were crossed with alacrity and I considered how Parkour for Deadfall would make an excellent niche publication.

Deadfall Parkour

As we neared Sun River Pass I fell back to take some photos and make some adjustments. Skirting a marshy area, I didn’t realize that the trail junction was underwater and passed it, realizing something was wrong at Round Park. After some head scratching I deduced my location from the bearing of the trail and the direction the streams were flowing, paced back to where I expected the junction to be, and realized why I had missed it.

With only the traces of snow the pass was easy going, although I neglected food and hydration in an effort to catch up to Andrew and Chris. At Grizzly Park encountered a pack-rafting trio who had seen my companions pass through. Being late in the day and knowing I wouldn’t catch up to them, I stopped for a welcome dinner in a slight drizzle.

It was when I finished my dinner that I encountered my biggest obstacle of the trip. Getting to my feet there was an excruciating pain in my Achilles tendons, particularly the left one. There had been no trauma like a fall or twisted ankle, nor any friction (I had prophylactically armored my feet with Leukotape, including the heel). The cumulative effect of 45 or 50 miles in 36 hours seems to have been the cause, although I do have a history of tight hamstrings, which may have contributed. In any case, my pace was quite alarming, making a slow shuffle. Fortunately, after 15-20 minutes things would loosen up and I would be capable of a steady pace, largely pain-free.

My goal for the day was Gooseberry cabin, a few miles beyond Strawberry Creek, the first major water crossing. I emerged at the creek about 9:00 PM and saw that it was sizeable but shallow on the near side. Not being able to assess the far half in the failing light and knowing that I was fatigued and liable to make an error in judgment, I chose to camp on the near side. A steady rain began, but by then I was safely enclosed in my 8x10 tarp.


Day 3: Strawberry Creek to Lodgepole Creek

I had set markers to see if the water level rose or fell during the night, but there was no change. I prepared a bottle of hot coffee, carefully packed for a water crossing, and set across with the water never going much above the knee, an excellent outcome.

Strawberry Creek

I continued on the Gooseberry, stopping for breakfast. At this point I knew I’d be travelling solo and set to my best sustainable pace. Today was slated to contain several other crossings, the first being Cox Creek which turned out to be waist deep, but slow moving. Miles ground on. I ate an early dinner at the Shafer ranger compound. At one point I encountered a trail crew who I conversed with for some while.

Trail Crew

The final planned obstacle for the day was Lodgepole Creek, which the trail crew warned might be quite large. They were right, at least at the Morrison Creek Trail crossing (there are two trails that cross within about a mile of each other). There was not suitable crossing near the trail, so I headed upstream in the hope of encountering a log jam, a braid, or even a straight section that might be crossed with a short swim. Instead of any of these I found Andrew and Chris.

The pair had been scouting the lower crossing earlier and had been frustrated with the lack of possibilities. The option of bailing was voiced. For me, the idea adding mileage in order to not finish was more horrific than the idea of drowning in a crossing, so we continued to scout, eventually encountering downstream a downed tree that spanned the creek. With a bit of apprehension the three of us crossed a ’cheval. Not we just had to bushwhack the two miles downstream to the main trail. We made steady progress but eventually lost the light just as we neared a cliff bypass, electing to spend the third night in a pleasant meadow on the floodplain.

a 'cheval

[My camera batteries were dead at this point, so the rest of the narrative will lack visuals.]


Day 4: Lodgepole Creek to Bear Creek Parking Lot

Since we had to gain elevation to bypass some cliffs, we intercepted the Red Plume Mountain trail and were able to follow it down to the main trail. GPS proved invaluable in this sort of bushwhacking.

Since I was moving slower, we discussed travelling together to Granite Creek, the last expected crossing, then the others could break away to make the best possible time. As it turned out, Granite Creek was a non-issue and we spent an extended break in the sun on the far side cooking, drying, and resting. We exchanged best wishes and Andrew and Chris were off.

But not for long, Twenty-Five Mile Creek had not been on my list of difficult crossings yet here it was in front of me, flowing through a box canyon, un-crossable. Chris and Andrew emerged from the brush having not found an obvious crossing nearby. However, Andrew noticed on the map that the contour profile leveled out upstream and the valley widened as well. The journey to this area turned out to be some of the toughest cross-country travel of the trip, having to climb high above the box canyon through continuous deadfall. After about a mile we dropped down and found a wide, easy ford reminiscent of Strawberry Creek. A trail serviced the other side of the creek, allowing a fast return to the main trail.

The bypass had cost us perhaps two hours while tantalizingly close to the end. With 12.5 miles remaining I had decided in my own mind to push for the exit in a single grind, which would involve some night hiking through bear country. Soon the headlamps went on, with periodic noise-making efforts to avoid surprise encounters. The trail crew had said that Spruce Creek was a stout crossing several weeks ago, during peak runoff, but was bridged by a tree within sight of the trail, but the fording turned out to be an anti-climactic splash-across in the dark.

The last 3.6 miles seemed to exist within Zeno’s Paradox, whereby the remaining distance keeps getting cut in half for all eternity, with each half taking the same amount of time and energy as the one preceding it. Sleep deprivation began to manifest. At one stop I was amused to see that the tree in front of me was rocking, as if at sea. It’s very likely that each of us fell asleep while walking at least once. Efforts to call out to bears had long since ceased. Finally, at 1:04 AM we crossed the bridge at Bear Creek and walked into the parking lot.



ANALYSIS

Physical preparation turned out to be excellent, with no cardiovascular or muscle endurance problems at all. Achilles Tendonitis and, in the final hours, general foot soreness were the sole physical limitations.

Given that water crossings would easily be the most dangerous undertakings during my traverse, a study of technique had been made in anticipation of the 2013 route, but this continues to be an area of interest. My comfort with different volumes increased as the event progressed. There might be an advantage to Swiftwater training in developing theory and experience with river mechanics.

As a solo traveler, I continue to develop what I call the “small disciplines”. Did I zip that pocket after putting my hat in it? Did I lock the headlamp switch after I turned it off? Prep my pack before a crossing, in case I take a face-plant? Do the “idiot check” on my campsite or rest area before walking off? In classic application of the Pareto Principle, an extra 20% of effort might prevent 80% of the problems that might arise through lack of mindfulness. This trip showed good discipline, with a few lapses. Perfection continues to elude.

Experience continues to demonstrate that companions are a source of energy. There really wasn’t anything on this trip that I wouldn’t have attempted had I been solo as planned, but everything seemed easier. Certainly the emotional lows seemed to flatten a great deal. This is in addition to practical benefits, like having multiple sets of eyes to notice a sign, bouncing route-finding ideas off each other, or sharing gear.


GEAR OBSERVATIONS

One of the themes of my planning was energy conservation, of which weight savings is but one component. The question becomes: does taking a given item of gear save more energy (in terms of stress, time, simplicity) than the extra physical energy of carrying it around?

Clothing

Overall clothing selection was just adequate for the journey. Other than redundant socks I would neither add nor subtract from the list.

DWR could be applied to gaiters and pants. Both were wet continually. The finish doesn’t need to be robust, just speed up drying a bit.

My supplex pants are toast after this trip with a knee to ankle tear on the left leg, another bushwhacking victim. They had a good run, but I had already desired something with a tapered leg.

Compression shorts developed chaffing by the end of the first day and most of the second. I removed them and used only capiline long underwear for the remainder of the trip, to good effect.

Footwear

Garmont boot insoles were used with LaSportiva Wildcats, to good effect. What I’d really like is a gel insole, for no other reason than that wouldn’t absorb any water, but I continue to be unable to find a flat, no-cut model that doesn’t have either a large heel lift or which isn’t encumbered by hard plastic.

The shoes themselves worked well, although the outer mesh fabric was shredded by the end of the journey.

The combination of Inijini sock as a liner combined with NRS sock (when cold) or Smartwool light hiker (when not) continues to be successful. The biggest change to the gear I took would be to have brought more Inijini socks, perhaps a pair for each day. With dawn to dusk hiking it was difficult to keep the socks rinsed and free of crap.

Leukotape is king. With Inijini socks used there was no need for hydropel, although the small toes continue to have problems.

Overnight Gear & Housekeeping

The 5x7 poncho tarp last year proved unappealing in prolonged rain, while the 8x10 tarp this year was pure luxury, although a catenary cut would have been welcome. Nite Eyes line fasteners earned their place as part of the cordage.

Hygiene was generally lacking. Soap, sanitizer, were absent and not nearly enough wet wipes were carried to make up the difference.

The Summerlite, supplemented with clothing, was adequate each night. A Titanium Goat bivy sack was used in conjunction with the bag.

Food

Four days of food was carried, at 30 ounces a day. A little more than half was eaten (although all four Pro-Paks were consumed). There was a strange lack of appetite for the amount of exertion, although without any nausea or illness. Odd.

Cytomax is my friend. This was one food item I wished I had more of.

While out of favor with much of the UL community, a water bladder and hose proved invaluable to on-the-go hydration. This was a vast improvement over last year.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: John's Experience on 06/03/2013 17:18:35 MDT Print View

John, thanks for the write up. It was great hiking with you and I'm glad we were able to finish the thing out together. That log sure looks a lot bigger from the comfort of my office chair than it did when I was on the wrong side of Lodgepole Creek.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F - M
Re: Chris and Andrew's 2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open Trip Report on 06/03/2013 17:32:02 MDT Print View

Andrew,

Thanks for the trip report and the photos. Let me know if you go again next year and want a partner. May be try pack rafting for a change ...

Manfred

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: Chris and Andrew's 2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open Trip Report on 06/03/2013 22:26:00 MDT Print View

Great report Andrew (I have only read yours up to this point). Glad you guys made it out safely! Sounds like you guys met the challenges with good decisions. What a great adventure.

David W.
(Davidpcvsamoa) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
Re: Chris and Andrew's 2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open Trip Report on 06/03/2013 23:03:44 MDT Print View

Well done Andrew, Chris and Jon! Congratulations on a successful trip. Thank you for sharing the excellent report and pictures. I look forward to hearing more in person.

Thom Darrah
(thomdarrah) - MLife

Locale: Southern Oregon
Wilderness Open on 06/04/2013 06:55:58 MDT Print View

John,
Being primarily a solo hiker and non pack rafter (at this time) I enjoyed your adventure and AR (adventure report) very much. For whatever reason I thought/assumed packrafting was a required part of these Wilderness Opens, knowing they can be planned and completed on foot has sparked my interest.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: Bob Marshall Wilderness Open on 06/04/2013 07:59:35 MDT Print View

I enjoyed these writeups and photos very much. Awesome job, and thanks for the undeserved props.
Ike

Gregory Topf
(notoriousGRT) - MLife

Locale: PNW / Switzerland
Nice Call on the 25mile crossing on 06/04/2013 13:33:10 MDT Print View

It is no small feat to continue thinking and analyzing one's options so late into the trip...nicely done - not sure I would have had the focus/awareness by that point, regardless of the mapping resources and trip prep beforehand.

I am going to have to get some time on the snow this Winter and make it over there in the next couple of years...It has been four years since I was in the Bob - I haven't envisioned my return being as cold and wet as it might be in May, but all y'all are proving to be quite an inspiration!

Well done everyone.

GRT

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Chris and Andrew's (and John's) 2013 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open Trip Report on 06/04/2013 16:40:33 MDT Print View

Andrew and John, Thanks for putting the write-ups together. You both summed up the experience really well. Andrew and I shared a camera, so I don't have any additional pictures to add, but will add a few comments:

- The first day seemed more like a typical summer backpacking trip, with the perfect weather and easy walking.

- Thinking that Strawberry Creek would be one of the most difficult crossings of the trip and then crossing it without incident, it was starting to seem like we got off too easy.

- The Lodgepole crossing was quite challenging, as mentioned above, and it really changed the trip for us. I no longer felt that we were getting off too easy. I really struggled with the log crossing and I was quite relieved when I was finally on the other side.

- After crossing Granite Creek, I can't believe I let myself think we were in the clear again. Twentyfive Mile creek turned out to be worse than Lodgepole and Andrew's comment about how it looked like the Middle Fork was flowing backwards was exactly how I felt as we approached.

- The GPS was an extremely handy tool for this trip.

Edited by csteutterman on 01/14/2014 17:45:55 MST.

Chris S
(csteutterman) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Video on 06/06/2013 11:44:29 MDT Print View

Here's a few short video clips I shot with my camera:

Somewhere on the trail east of the North Fork Sun River


Middle Fork Flathead River at Shafer Meadows


Lodgepole Creek