2014 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open: Marias Pass to Monture Creek
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David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
2014 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open: Marias Pass to Monture Creek on 08/27/2013 17:34:48 MDT Print View

The mass start date will be May 31st, 2014, at 0800 MST. Start location will be the rest area at Marias Pass on Highway 2. Finish is the Monture Creek TH north of Ovando.

The executive summary would note that this combines the potential snow hazards of 2012 with the water hazards of 2013, and is significantly longer than either.

Discuss.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
2014 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open on 08/29/2013 08:10:10 MDT Print View

Almost dead North to South - but as those familiar with the Bob know - the ranges that run it's length are all at a slight NW to SE angle. So with an 85 miles direct path from Point A to Point B participants will have to contend with a handful of divides.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
BMWO 2014 on 08/30/2013 09:48:27 MDT Print View

Wow great course. Nice to see the longer distance. Looks tough.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
BMWO 2014 on 09/04/2013 17:16:41 MDT Print View

Sounds tough, challenging, fun. Whatever this winter brings us will no doubt set the mood. I better get myself into shape.

Greg Gedney
(ggedney) - M

Locale: Rocky Mountain Region
BMWO 2014 on 09/14/2013 21:40:02 MDT Print View

Intresting course for 2014. North to south should pose a challenge as it limits rafting possibilities to only a relative few sections of river given the over all distance to cover. Might have to consider leaving the boat at home this time around. Looks like quite a few passes to traverse as well. This one will be tough on the feet but nevertheless looking forward to it.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
BWMO 2014 on 10/25/2013 13:06:25 MDT Print View

OK, I'm in. Again.

2014 was supposed to be my inaugural packraft bid, but it looks like this will be a route for pedestrians, which is fine by me.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
BMWO on 10/26/2013 19:04:39 MDT Print View

Have you scooped up a packraft John? There's not major opportunities to save time with a raft on this route, but rafting a few short bits could add a neat dimension to the trip. White River is a sublime stretch.

Edited by dandydan on 10/26/2013 19:05:13 MDT.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
BMWO 2014 on 10/27/2013 13:46:59 MDT Print View

Not yet. Either this year or next. If this year, I'll almost certainly procure during the sale next month.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Anticipation. on 10/27/2013 15:03:16 MDT Print View

The nervous excitement begins. Should be a lot easier pre planning than last year since I know a bit more what to expect. I will take a bit more time than last year to take advantage of being in such a cool area.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
BMWO rafting on 11/02/2013 15:14:17 MDT Print View

Assuming normalish water levels, there's at least one good rafting route.

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
2014 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open: Marias Pass to Monture Creek on 11/13/2013 16:09:54 MST Print View

Call me an armchair commenter because I've been following the race since it's inception but have not participated up to this point. Whatever, take it or leave it.

My research is showing a route that is between 104 and and 113 miles with roughly 19 of those miles possible as a downhill water route. What's everyone else's research looking like?

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: 2014 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open: Marias Pass to Monture Creek on 11/13/2013 16:21:43 MST Print View

For those of us who don't raft, the route I came up with is about 125 miles, with (at least) five potentially serious crossings. I'd like to participate again, but I haven't decided yet whether I'm comfortable with the route, given the challenge involved last year which had flows well below average. We'll see.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
re: BMWO routes on 11/14/2013 10:51:14 MST Print View

I rarely count miles with much precision. The route I aluded to above has between 20 and 30 miles of floating, depending on water levels and wood tolerance. As a further hint, hiking the same route has between 1 and 3 potentially gnar creek crossings (and two uses of stock bridges, which is sorta cheating).

Sam Haraldson
(sharalds) - MLife

Locale: Gallatin Range
2014 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open: Marias Pass to Monture Creek on 11/14/2013 11:10:13 MST Print View

Now let's not let this become another bolting or style debate like in the climbing world, please.

Any form of human-powered locomotion is allowed within the identified course area. No linear travel on the surface of paved roads.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
Shameless Bridge Use on 11/14/2013 12:06:43 MST Print View

I paid good tax money for those stock bridges!

There will no doubt be plenty of other opportunities for me to get wet, aside from any bridged crossings.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
bridges on 11/14/2013 15:22:21 MST Print View

Don't tempt me into changing the rules ;)

In all seriousness, it's interesting to think about just how much a bridge in a certain spot (Headquarters Creek) will change route planning. It's one of the things that makes this different than the Wilderness Classic.

Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
BMWO Route Planning on 11/17/2013 18:38:33 MST Print View

I'll use a stock bridge but promise NOT to go out of my get to it. How's that? I'm also trying stay off pack trails to avoid the usual mudbaths that I have walked elsewhere but this might be tough since Monture Creek and the Flathead are main routes... correct?
I lost count on stream crossings but am planning on 3 passes: Hahn Creek Pass, Pot Lake/ Pot Mountain, Big Lodge Mountain. I am using and fully appreciating the attention to detail on the Cairn Cartographic maps!!
Steven M.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
A Similar Race Philosphy on 11/22/2013 17:49:30 MST Print View

This seems to reflect our event philosophy. Sort of...

Hitler Rants About Today's Ultrarunners
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbjxJVfOsvA&feature=youtube_gdata

rOg w
(rOg_w) - F - M

Locale: rogwilmers.wordpress
deleted on 11/22/2013 19:26:35 MST Print View

deleted

Edited by rOg_w on 12/12/2013 08:28:28 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: BMWO Route Planning on 11/24/2013 09:44:13 MST Print View

Steofan,
last year on the Open I took much of your proposed route from near Larch Hill Pass through Shaffer. I did not take Trail 90 or 243 north or the intersection because they were closed due to fire. (I would check the status of those trails if your plan depends on them.) instead I dropped cross country down to Trail 83 via the Hoop Creek drainage. Pentagon Pass, which you referred to as Pot Lake or Pot Mountain is a classic Sierra style pass. there was a boatload of snow on both sides of that pass but very doable. Once out of the snow it was a cruise down to Shaffer. The river crossing at Shaffer will be one to watch. I didn't have much trouble with it last year, much to my surprise but it is a real river crossing and should be monitored.

Cyrus Dietz
(Cyrus) - M

Locale: Midwest
Water crossings on 12/10/2013 12:21:37 MST Print View

I am trying to put together a tentative gear list and considering a boat for crossings. I was wondering if the Scout was big enough to carry (1) person with (2) peoples gear and then on second trip(2) people across a river section? Dave, what are your thoughts? My other thought was to bring Kate's Apaca stripped down (no seat, backrest, or deck)for that purpose.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
tandem scout crossings on 12/10/2013 14:42:51 MST Print View

Cyrus, that would be theoretically possible, but the Scout would be front heavy, and finding room to paddle would be tough. I'd only want to do the gentlest crossings that way.

Meredith and I have done tandem crossings in my Yak a number of times, and that works well. 12" tubes are good here. Two trips are still required if both people have full packs, and care is required in moving water.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
2014 Bob Open on 02/03/2014 11:36:35 MST Print View

Bump for February.

Our snowpack is in fine shape at the moment, at or above average for everywhere in the Bob complex. As usual, what that means for early June will depend on when and how fast melting gets going in April.

Depending on who shows up, I'm expecting on route times of 3-7 days. For folks traveling from well out of town who'd like to make even more of an adventure of it, there are a couple of intiguing options to add a prologue of sorts in Glacier NP. I'd be willing to help with that, including route planning and bringing a resupply of food to Marias on Saturday.

I'd encourage anyone who can make it to plan on a dinner and gab session Friday night at the Snowslip Inn, a fine bar and restaurant well beyond all cell service about 15 miles WEST of Marias Pass.

Edited by DaveC on 02/12/2014 10:06:34 MST.

Jacob D
(JacobD) - F

Locale: North Bay
Re: 2014 Bob Open on 02/03/2014 14:26:25 MST Print View

Thanks for the update, Dave. I'm out for this year. Had to choose between this or spring run and I've hardly been able to train for that. Maybe next year I'll get to join you guys. Will be watching from afar until then!

M G
(drown) - F - MLife

Locale: Shenandoah
Bob Open partners on 02/03/2014 14:49:19 MST Print View

I'd be interested in partnering with someone for a pedestrian (no raft) route.

Nicholas Viglione
(nicholas.viglione@gmail.com) - MLife
Re: Bob Open partners on 02/12/2014 09:35:12 MST Print View

MG - I would definitely be interested in a pedestrian route - don't get much opportunity where I am in NY for rafting so my whitewater skills are more than a little out of date... (I think I managed to eskimo roll my old Dagger exactly twice when I was 13...).

Feel free to shoot me an email at nicholas.viglione@gmail.com if you want to chat more!

Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
Thanks Malto! on 02/12/2014 11:07:36 MST Print View

I had a couple of x-country jaunts as back-ups, better look closer at these. Planning on 7days max right now, could drop if the bushwhacking works in my favor. I knew that I would need to check on burn areas, better just do it now.

No t-shirt at the finish? Not allowed to stop to poop? We will have rocks and curses thrown at us? Sounds like both of my day-jobs... nothing new there. Thank-you John, I just love a motivational Hitler rant first thing in the morning.

Steven

Cyrus Dietz
(Cyrus) - M

Locale: Midwest
Route time on 03/04/2014 10:23:18 MST Print View

I need to be back in Minneapolis by Friday afternoon June 6th for my daughters graduation ceremony. So a 5 day route time is needed…planned for (Wednesday night could end up being an all-night affair). As for pack rafting, my observations of the North Fork of the Sun were that is was very floatable south of Lick Creek, but north of there it was full of wood. My big fear right now is too many miles walking in deep snow, that would really slow me down.

Edited by Cyrus on 03/04/2014 10:24:10 MST.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
Route Time on 03/04/2014 14:42:40 MST Print View

Cyrus, what sort of times were you splitting last year? I don't think I ever saw a write-up.

The distance between Hwy 2 and Benchmark took me four days on foot last year. I'm considering trying for three days this year, since the big creek crossings can be avoided and my thinking has been corrupted by heretical ideas from ultra-running friends. I think the finish is 20 more miles from there, over the Divide. I think you can pull off five days, especially if you float some of it.

All the passes on that final day are 7,000'+ though. The fingers of my left hand still have ghost-numbness from our last escapade together in that sort of terrain :)

Edited by johnstl on 03/04/2014 14:43:12 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Route Time on 03/04/2014 15:11:17 MST Print View

I'm planning on a sub-60 hour finish, which will take a lot (lot) more effort than 52 hours did last year.

John is correct to be concerned about the final passage into the Monture drainage. The possibilities for snow slogging and route finding problems on the obvious routes are immense. The shortest route is almost certainly not the shortest route. Hint. ;)

Cyrus Dietz
(Cyrus) - M

Locale: Midwest
timing on 03/04/2014 15:18:18 MST Print View

John, We were averaging 20 plus mile days, but we never broke camp before 8 or 9 am. We had a couple of nights where we ended up camped next to a couple raging creeks, waiting till morning to figure out how to get across them. That cost us a few hours each time.
Creek fording was all new to Kate and it took her some time to get comfortable with that. Packrafting the Sun was the highlight of the trip for me.

Did you get a packraft John? Kate and I are planning to head out to the Bob before Memorial Day to do some packrafting the week before the event. You are welcome to join us.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
Route Time on 03/04/2014 16:29:37 MST Print View

Five days might be a cutting it close then, although you might be able arrange a bail option at Benchmark if you come up short on time.

I didn't end up doing the packraft purchase this year. Mainly because I don't know anyone who could join me for local outings, which makes for a bad cost-per-use ratio, at least if buying new. However, I did see the posting for the packrafting festival in Montana in July and am toying with the idea of checking it out, which would make for a better informed decision in the future.

There's Dave with his cryptic warnings again. It must be the beard. When I had a beard I felt mysterious and sage-like too :)

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Route Time on 03/05/2014 07:43:44 MST Print View

The July Roundup should be a good time. Jackson Hole Packrafts is giving discounted rentals for it.

As always, on the day before the start I'll tell anyone who shows up exactly where I'm going and why.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: 2014 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open: Marias Pass to Monture Creek on 03/05/2014 07:59:17 MST Print View

I got an opportunity to go to Europe for work for three weeks at the same time that I just couldn't pass up, so I'm not gonna make it this year. I came up with what I think is a pretty good route; I'm curious to see if anyone ends up going the way I was planning. I hope everybody has a good time and I look forward to the trip reports.

Edited by andrew.f on 03/05/2014 08:00:05 MST.

Dan Durston
(dandydan) - M

Locale: Cascadia
BMWO on 03/05/2014 09:32:57 MST Print View

"I'm planning on a sub-60 hour finish, which will take a lot (lot) more effort than 52 hours did last year."
Wow. It gets me stoked just thinking about pulling sub 60 hrs off. I'd love to tag along some year.

As some of you know, I'm going to be on the PCT this summer so I can't make the BMWO, but I sure intend to be at events like this in the 2015. Such a great experience.

Edited by dandydan on 03/05/2014 09:33:49 MST.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Bob Open conditions update on 04/23/2014 10:45:43 MDT Print View

I got out bear hunting in the North Fork of the Sun this past weekend.

Snowpack in the Bob is significantly above average at the moment. The lower elevations and (especially) more open and southerly aspects have melted out. We haven't had any particularly warm or sunny days lately, and thus the snowpack everywhere else is still quite robust.

All of this means little, other than that when/if we get truly warm days there will quite a lot of snow still to melt. May temperatures and precip will make all the difference, and as of now there is still a very wide range of possible conditions come late May.

Cornice formation and avalanche activity have both been exceptional throughout NW Montana this winter. I fully expect to still see remenants and evidence of both come late May.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
Snow on 05/07/2014 11:29:05 MDT Print View

Last year's snowless route has made me soft, but recent adventures in the late Cascade snowpack reminds me to start considering snowshoe options appropriate to a pack-n-wear style traverse.

I picked up the NorthernLite Elite QTR over the winter, but quite dislike the binding (which keeps slipping off) and don't really meet my crampon needs. I know Dave and Dan have both made use of the MSR Shift, which might be an option for me given my size 41 foot.

Any feedback based on experience with that model?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Snow on 05/07/2014 11:55:19 MDT Print View

I passed the Shifts along to a friends son. The binding opening in the shoe itself is too narrow, and forced them into a duck-footed orientation which was very annoying. I picked up an older pair of MSR Denalis at a gear swap last fall, and like them fine. The binding is good and the crampon is just aggressive enough.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
Carpool on 05/12/2014 12:12:50 MDT Print View

It just occurred to me that there wasn't any mention of a carpool in this year's thread. Is something similar to the previous year's arrangement planned?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Carpool on 05/12/2014 12:33:49 MDT Print View

I will not be able to assist with a ride from the finish to the start, the week previous will be too busy. I could offer a few folks a ride from the Flathead up to Marias on friday evening.

It refuses to get particularly warm around here, and has been cold enough to snow above 5k on several occasions in the last week. It's made for great skiing, and kept the rivers hi-ish but clear, but unless it gets very warm soon and stays there one should expect a lot of snow out there at the end of the month. For reference, the Pike Creek snotel (http://www.nwrfc.noaa.gov/snow/snowplot.cgi?PICM8; maybe 1.5 miles from the start) still has over two feet of snow.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Roll call on 05/14/2014 08:05:29 MDT Print View

So, I'm in. I will be travelling from Des Moines. Maybe we could start getting some carpool arrangements made, or at least get some confirmation of who all is definitely coming?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Final Bob update on 05/18/2014 17:09:23 MDT Print View

I got out hunting this weekend in what will be my last visit to the Bob before go time. Take the following as a final briefing/caution.

Saturday was pretty sunny and warm. The South Fork at Twin Creeks bumped above 13,000 cfs, and the North Fork of the Blackfoot above 2000 cfs at Dry Gulch (which is an impressive sight). The long term forecast has temps climbing up into the 80s towards the end of the coming week.

April and May have overall been cool, and as a result snow melting has primarily occurred due to sun exposure, as opposed to temperature. Low elevations are clear, mid-elevations are mixed, and high elevations have a lot (lot!) of snow.

Combine these last two facts and I expect a few things come 0-day.

Rivers and creeks will be big. Very big. Expect significant route complications due to water hazards. If there's a big cold snap 10 days hence this could not happen, but I think that not very likely.

Snow has the potential to throw a few serious curveballs at folks. Pay very close attention to aspect and tree cover. Longer miles could be a lot faster this year.

Good luck.

Greg Gedney
(ggedney) - M

Locale: Rocky Mountain Region
too many commitments and not enough time for the ones I want on 05/20/2014 14:04:18 MDT Print View

As much as I wanted to join everyone this year I have a prior commitment in Alaska that will not allow me the time to complete the 2014 BMWO. Trained for it all winter, but sometimes things just don't work out and having the event a week later this year kind of crunched my schedules too much. Stay safe our there and watch your water crossings. Still have my eyes on next year.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Water treatment on 05/21/2014 14:13:44 MDT Print View

Is it absolutely necessary?

Greg Gedney
(ggedney) - M

Locale: Rocky Mountain Region
bummer on 05/21/2014 16:58:29 MDT Print View

In a real way, yes. I've committed to helping our some people who are in a bit of hard way. The timing would mean I'd have to whip everyone's butts by a sub 48 hour cross county ski sprint and you are all too good to let that happen.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Water treatment on 05/21/2014 17:54:15 MDT Print View

I stopped treating my water after the first day out of sheer laziness and I didn't get sick. Lots of snowmelt and runoff that time of year to dilute the bad stuff.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Water treatment on 05/21/2014 22:02:44 MDT Print View

That's what I was thinking. One of Dan's reports mentions he lost his water bottle mid-way and didn't get sick. Thanks for the data point!

Cyrus Dietz
(Cyrus) - M

Locale: Midwest
Event timing on 05/22/2014 09:16:26 MDT Print View

Kate and I are having a hard time getting on board for this years event. We both really want to do it and are prepared for it, but the trailhead shuttling logistics, combined with the very long route required are leaving me short on time to return home for my kid's graduation ceremony.

I came to the conclusion my only option was to rent a car to spot at the destination, then start the event a couple days earlier to ensure I was home on time. Also the car spotting and shuttle thing requires about 1000 miles of driving in addition to the 2000 miles round trip to visit Montana, and the car rental adds several hundred dollars in gas and fees. So with the extra cost, extra driving time, tight schedule... It just isn't coming together smoothly.

We are still heading for the Front Range this Saturday and will be in the area for 11 or 12 days. I am still open to options and I am considering my alternatives.

Oh and I have no problem drinking from the small feeder streams, given the source...

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Roll call on 05/22/2014 10:42:07 MDT Print View

I worked out my schedule. I'll be getting in Friday early to mid-afternoon. Sorry to see people can't make it, I was really looking forward to meeting you! Hopefully there is still a decent turnout.

Steofan The Apostate
(simaulius) - F

Locale: Bohemian Alps
Re: Roll Call on 05/22/2014 13:18:14 MDT Print View

Corp office scheduled a full-store inventory for us on May 31. Every mile I've run and route planned and memorized since last October tells me that I'll make this trip but it will have to be next year.

Dave: I've been watching snowfall and flow rates on NOAA and they are impressive. Have fun with your bikepacking - that's your game-plan, correct?

All: stay safe and have a great time!

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Bob Open on 05/27/2014 07:25:36 MDT Print View

The shuttle drive is a long one, and I am sorry folks are finding it hard to manage. I just got back from my sisters wedding and will have a difficult enough time fixing things at work and getting myself ready.

I am not bringing a bike, though there is at least one decent way to complete this route with one. The snow and mud make May a not ideal time for it. Still on the fence with snowshoes, and more than a bit nervous about what the packrafting will be like.

M and I will probably make it to the Snowslip for dinner between 730 and 800 Friday night.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Bob Open on 05/27/2014 19:08:15 MDT Print View

How does this work if there's no BPL carpool? I honestly have not done a hike in an area this remote before. Can I expect to be able to hitch up to catch a ride with you, Dave? I'm on a schedule getting back and having to fetch my car from Marias would make it much more difficult.

Sorry to sound like a newb. My hikes are almost always loops b/c I so rarely have someone able to shuttle.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: Bob Open on 05/28/2014 08:09:44 MDT Print View

It works by being a pain; no other way around it.

Hitching from Monture up to the Flathead is quite doable, but things being what they are these days I'd leave yourself all day Friday if possible. The dirt road from the TH back to pavement doesn't get a ton of traffic, but 200 and 83 are both well traveled.

I'll send you an email Spelt.

Cyrus Dietz
(Cyrus) - M

Locale: Midwest
Bob Marshall on 05/30/2014 20:55:24 MDT Print View

Good luck with your routes tomorrow. Kate and I just wrapped up a 75 mile loop in the Bob this morning. We found snow before 6000 feet and more than 8 feet deep at 7700 feet. The water levels were epic this week making stream crossings hairy. We had the opportunity to see a lot of wildlife including a huge black bear.

We spent an entire day above snow line and half of that time in crampons, but never needed snowshoes.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
BMWO on 06/03/2014 09:13:19 MDT Print View

I'm out and back home. More snow than I expected and a lack of legs to go fast enough through it had me 7 miles behind schedule the first day, and more of the same and scouting (and not running) some big rapids on the N Fork Sun had me 20 behind by the end of day two. Lacking the time, food, and most importantly inclination to push through and finish on that 4+ day schedule, I paddled out Gibson yesterday morning.

Quite the contrast to last years low snow and low water. I wore snowshoes for close to 10 miles straight going over Badger Pass. Strawberry Creek where most crossed it last year was absolutely not doable on foot. Sun River pass, which had maybe 9 linear feet of snow last year, had perhaps 3/4 of a mile all told this year.

Even truncated, this was a great route. Most of the first day was all new to me, and made for enjoyable walking and snowshoeing. The North Fork of the Sun between Wrong Creek and Headquarters Creek might be my new favorite stretch of floating in the Bob. Going over Sun River pass I saw a big bachelor herd elk who already had impressive antlers in full velvet. The whole Sun River valley was greener than I've ever seen it, with flowers everywhere.

It'd be easy to say that I should have been more realistic, packed a bit more food, and given myself a bit more time. Dealing with fairly challenging and potentially hazardous conditions on a tight schedule was not enjoyable. Then again, I only learn best by doing. As my own inclinations change 30+ mpd and the suffering which goes with it is less and less compelling. I've been there and done it, and have no need to reprove that I can still do it. I'm not sure what and where the future of the BMWO will be, but I imagine it will involve some way of de-emphasizing the more severe athletic aspects while still encouraging folks to get out in challenging conditions.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: BMWO on 06/03/2014 09:15:24 MDT Print View

Btw four of us showed up Saturday morning. Tanner and Tyler (?) from Missoula and Bozeman headed east; not sure of their route. They were raftless and snowshoe-less and hoping to finish on Tuesday or Wednesday. Spelt was following a route similar to mine, and had a raft. His car is still in our parking lot so he's still out there somewhere.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
BMWO on 06/03/2014 16:36:48 MDT Print View

"Dealing with fairly challenging and potentially hazardous conditions on a tight schedule was not enjoyable... As my own inclinations change 30+ mpd and the suffering which goes with it is less and less compelling... I'm not sure what and where the future of the BMWO will be, but I imagine it will involve some way of de-emphasizing the more severe athletic aspects while still encouraging folks to get out in challenging conditions"

I had a similar reflection over the last few days. I had gone down to Tahoe to attempt the THT on an aggressive schedule, but after surveying the area ultimately decided that I wouldn't have fun (especially with lingering snow) at that pace over that distance. I could have enjoyed the shorter Western States Trail, but it was full of poison oak. On the drive back I kept wishing I could have made the BMWO logistics work.

My suspicion is that events like these will settle into a ~100 mile format. That seems short enough for people to sustain ambitious paces (if inclined) and for people to take the time off, but long enough to offer obstacles and challenge. For my part, I'd love to tour in new areas that, honestly, I might never motivate myself to visit otherwise.

It also occurred to me (it's a long drive between Tahoe and Seattle, so a lot of things occurred to me) that if an event is truly not a race, then you only need to have one fixed location, either beginning or end, as is done in the TGO Challenge. For instance, start at Benchmark and end anywhere along Highway 2 (or the other way around).

Anyhow, the topic was on my mind. I'll be at the Packraft Roundup next month if you want to discuss.

Edited by johnstl on 06/03/2014 16:37:46 MDT.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: BMWO on 06/03/2014 17:14:24 MDT Print View

David,
thanks for the update. the main reason that I failed to show this year was because I couldn't get the math to work out on the distance, conditions and my window. The amount of food that would have needed to carry would have weighed me down and further slowing me down. I definitely would have liked to do a return trip, maybe next year. Look forward to seeing the full report.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: BMWO on 06/03/2014 19:07:15 MDT Print View

John, I agree on your distance thoughts, and like the idea of a fixed start but only a certain zone for the end. See you in July. Should still be plenty of water!

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: BMWO on 06/04/2014 10:00:03 MDT Print View

Dave, I'm glad you made it out safe and had what sounds like a good experience. Given that you saw so much snow on Badger Pass I wonder what it would've been like down by Hahn Creek or Limestone Pass. A good reminder that we got pretty lucky with the conditions last year especially given what you said about Strawberry Creek. Out of curiosity, did you get a look at the crossing of the South Fork Two Medicine? Based on my estimates, that would've been the most difficult crossing of the route that I had planned, if I had been able to make it this year. I definitely feel a strong pull to come back to the Bob after the great experience last year - maybe a packrafting trip in July or August would be a more civilized undertaking.

Fingers crossed for Spelt and the other guys. I'm looking forward to seeing some pictures.

You still thinking about doing the Sierra High Route sometime?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: BMWO on 06/04/2014 10:55:50 MDT Print View

I followed the CDT up above the S Fork Two Med precisely because the lower crossing at the powerlines would have been a serious problem. In addition to being too deep to ford there, the river is in a narrow gorge and swift enough that boating across would have been not especially safe. The payment was snow up on the CDT. I left the trail before Benson Creek to avoid more snow and buskwacked straight down to the Two Med, at which point it was a reasonable thigh deep but swift ford at a braided section.

My plan for further south was to go over the Dry Fork divide and go up Canyon Creek and over into Monture at Trail Creek (name might be wrong). I know from previous experience that Limestone holds a lot of snow, and even worse, the trail on the west side down to Monture goes through steep north facing trees with lots of tedious, snowy traversing.

I think to find a non-swimming ford of Strawberry would have been a 6-8 mile roundtrip detour if you didn't find a good log sooner.

Adam C
(NBD925) - M

Locale: Montana
BMWO 2014 Swimming and Hobbling on 06/04/2014 11:35:35 MDT Print View

The 2014 BMWO Starters

Trip Plan

8:00am Start at Marias Pass
Run Hwy 2 ditch to Skyland Road and up to Morrison Cr. Trailhead
Morrison Cr Trail to Big River Trail
Big River Trail to Schafer Meadows
Schafer Meadows up Dolly Varden to Pentagon Pass
Pentagon Pass to Pentagon Cabin
Pentagon Cabin to Wall Cr. then to White River
White River down to South Fork of the Flathead
South Fork of Flathead to Youngs Cr.
Youngs Cr. to Hahn Pass
Hahn Pass to Monture Trailhead

Purple line shows planned route. (Included an optional route toward the beginning)
Red line shows actual route.

Route Map

117 proposed total miles.
Planned to be out Monday Night or Tuesday.

Strategy

Light weight packs with 10 lbs base weight 9 pounds of food.
1 Liter water bottle with 1 Liter backup
35 plus miles a day but reevaluate if lower mileage than 30 a day.
Try to jog easy sections of trail
Utilize Two man river crossing techniques to fords streams
Time Constraint (Must be out by Tuesday)

Trip Report

Day 1 Started at Marias Pass with a meet and greet of the 4 participants. Jog highway ditch then up Skyland Rd. to Morrison Cr Trail, reaching the trailhead at 10:45 am. High snow levels at the trailhead. 5-6 foot drifts with full snow cover of the trail. The trail was hard to follow for the first 3-4 miles. Snow for the first 7 miles slowed the pace. We crossed Morrison Cr. 3 times using the two man crossing technique and it was needed. A one man crossing would have been tough.

Final Crossing of Morrison Cr.
Final Crossing of Morrison Cr.

Trek up Big River Trail to Schafer Meadows with an arrival time of 4:00pm. Signed the logbook and swam the Middle Fork River to continue up Dolly Varden Cr.

Schafer Meadows Airstrip
Schafer Meadows Airstrip

Middle Fork Conquered
Middle Fork Conquered

Up Dolly Varden hoping to cross the Pentagon Pass to make it to the cabin, we realized that we would run out of daylight nearing the top of the pass making the climb and descent dangerous.

Up Dolly Varden Cr.
Up Dolly Varden Cr.

We would have liked to make the cabin (45 mile mark) but were happy with a 35 mile day, confident we could make up some of the lost miles the next day. So we decided to hold up at 5400 feet (snow line) to wait for morning. As we set up camp we looked down upon the large Grizzly tracks that had just passed through and slept well. Low temp for the night was 34 just before daybreak with a slight drizzle.

Grizzly Tracks
Grizzly Tracks

Dolly Varden Near 5400 Feet
Dolly Varden near 5400 feet

Day 2 Woke up and headed toward the pass. Snow travel again made the trek slower than planned especially toward the top of the pass where varying snow conditions had us transitioning from kicking toe holds in frozen snow to swimming waist deep snow holes.

Pentagon Pass
Pentagon Pass

We glissaded down the pass to the bottom. The snow transitioned with the lower elevation, becoming softer. Maybe a 1/4 mile down I broke through the snow layer and hit the front of my shin 3 inches above the ankle on a downed log. My body flew forward and I was lucky not to snap my leg. It hurt but I pulled my leg free and was able to keep trekking. There was allot more snow in the Pentagon drainage than expected. 1-2 miles later and warmed up, my leg started to swell and lock the ankle motion. I fought this and later a left IT band issue all the way to Pentagon Cabin. At the cabin we made the choice to use the bailout knowing that the leg was not going to get better and we were not going to be making the times we wanted in the coming days. With work and worrying family members, we could not afford the risk of not getting out in the allotted time frame.

Pentagon Cabin
Pentagon Cabin

It was a good choice but a tough one. My Bob Marshall team member Tanner K. was in better shape and physically doing fine so it was a hard decision to make. We made the call to bailout to Spotted Bear Ranger Station another 25 miles away. We headed down the trail to Dean Creek. The crossing was a tough one. The situation only offered one crossing spot with more than a few danger areas. The crossing is just a bend away from the confluence of the now raging Spotted Bear River. We probed the depth as far out as we could reach with the trekking pole and determined it was worth a shot. We crossed again using our two man technique. The current was right at the upper levels of what we could hold off but we made it without incident and continued the route.

Mean Dean Creek
Mean Dean Creek

5 miles along we were at the trailhead looking at 15 miles more of gravel road travel to the Ranger Station. My new injury and left IT band made the walking pain extreme. But the pain was relieved after seeing our friend the black bear.

Black Bear
Black Bear

Later in the bailout my right IT started to go out, I think from the added strain of hobbling with the injury for so long. 10 miles from the Ranger Station just after a 10 minute food break my knees locked up and it was over for the night.

Knees and Ankle are Toast
Knees and Ankle are done

We spent the night at the Beaver Creek Campground. Low temp 40.

Lots of Mule Deer at Campground
Lots of Mule Deer at Campground

With a decent nights sleep and lots of IBuprofen, I was able to get the knees moving again and we pushed on 10 miles to the Ranger Station. We caught a ride out to Whitefish and the trip was over.

Spotted Bear Ranger Station
Spotted Bear Ranger Station

Two Waters Please
I'll take a water please

After Thoughts

Snowshoes and a raft would not have helped on this route. The snow travel on this route was tough and doubled your work effort but you didn't sink far enough in to make snowshoes a great option.

The route was very doable but one miss step and it quickly becomes a different goal.

Ankle and foot swelling
Injury

Bad injury aside, More training on my part was needed. I was a 20 mile back to back man trying to do 40 mile back to back treks. It was doable but there would have been a decent amount of pain involved which gets you to the goal but not the fun way. My friend Tanner was physically ready and could have made the distance but I believe two people were needed on this route to do the streams with relative safety and we had at least 2-3 more to cross to make the finish.

We were burning around 6000 calories a day to make the mileage we did. It was interesting to note that we burnt 120 on an average 1 mile trail but adding snow bumped it up to 270-300 calories per mile.

I am not a trekking pole hiker but they were a must have for me to get out the way I did. I had to borrow them from Tanner. I really saw the benefits of their use, watching him use them. It was a sealed deal after absolutely needing them to hobble out 30 some miles.

All this aside, we can't wait until next year. If no one makes it this year the two points should remain the same. It is an amazing test of skills and training that is not offered in this season set anywhere in Montana. Great opportunity to perform in an environment that is challenging. You dictate the pace so you also dictate the miles per day you think your body can handle.

Logistics would be nice to hammer out to make it easier on other people who are not from the area. Maybe everyone meeting at the end point and a shuttle to the start could be an option. That way your ride is at the end and there is more interaction with the participants. Maybe meet on a Friday afternoon and start on a Saturday morning with lodging options Friday Night near the start. Whether that option is a field or actual cabin / motel it would be nice to gather.

The BMWO must live on. It is a premier event in an amazing place that will really test the skills and abilities of multi-level participants.

We hope to hear from Spelt.

Edited by NBD925 on 06/04/2014 11:48:39 MDT.

Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F - M

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: BMWO 2014 Swimming and Hobbling on 06/04/2014 11:51:53 MDT Print View

Bravo Adam and Tanner! Thanks for the pictures and the report. It makes me shudder to think about breaking a tib/fib out there this time of year. Care to elaborate on your two-man river crossing technique?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: BMWO 2014 Swimming and Hobbling on 06/04/2014 12:41:31 MDT Print View

Awesome job Adam and Tanner. Thanks for posting, and sorry Adam for mis-recalling your name.

Adam C
(NBD925) - M

Locale: Montana
Two Person Technique on 06/04/2014 13:10:39 MDT Print View

Two Person Setup

The two person technique is used to cross streams that would wash out the legs of a single crossing person by giving stability to each crosser, breaking the current load and utilizing more points of contact:

Each person faces the other grabbing the others arms just below the shoulders. The largest person is the upstream side. In this position you side step and enter the water. You want to take a 45 degree cut across the stream so you don't have to fight the current every step taken to get across. Let the current help you make that small step across and down. One person takes one step at a time never crossing the feet. Calling out things like "Stepping . . . I'm Stable" and then allowing the other person to do the same are key to crossing high volume deeper flows.

The down stream person needs to lean forward and push on the upstream person to keep them from bending with the current. Like holding up a wall. The Down stream person will have allot less flow on the feet so they should make sure they are stable before the upstream person steps.

Tips and Things to consider when crossing cold streams.

Try to find a spot where the stream or river forks into different channels. You want to split up the CFS of the stream as much as you can. When we crossed the Middle Fork we decided to cross a little further down from the actual trail where the river split, dividing it into two smaller sections.

Make sure the other side is gradually getting shallower and has an easy exit. You don't want to try to pull yourself out of a cutbank. Make sure of a secondary exit should you miss the first one.

The water is cold and you need to get use to it. Its tough to do but you need to get wet before you get wet. When you get thrust into full submersion your blood races away from your extremities and into your core and you hyperventilate. Add extra heavy breathing due to panic and its bad news. Get use to the temp as much as possible and your breathing will be calm.

You can only spend about 8 minutes total in that water so make sure there are immediate options on the other side. More than a minute in the water was numbing.

Swim together. Both people need to be in the water together in-case something goes wrong with the other person. You don't need your partner on the beach panicked and then entering the cold water trying to help.

When in doubt just don't do it!

These techniques and suggestions are just things that we decided on as a team to mitigate some of the risk of the crossing and cold water. We are learning just like everyone else so don't take this information as gospel. There might be far better techniques out there but these seemed to make sense and worked when needed for us.

Adam C
(NBD925) - M

Locale: Montana
Thanks David! on 06/04/2014 13:17:23 MDT Print View

Hey David, no problem! Thanks for putting on an awesome event and making this possible. My friend Tanner got me into it and we have followed all the Opens for a few years now hoping to participate. It was an amazing experience. We learned more on this one event than any other trip taken.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Thanks David! on 06/04/2014 15:06:39 MDT Print View

"We learned more on this one event than any other trip taken."

That's what it is all about.


Edit; my report and photos: http://bedrockandparadox.com/2014/06/04/the-2014-bob-marshall-wilderness-open-it-will-never-be-the-same/

Edited by DaveC on 06/04/2014 19:30:57 MDT.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Thanks David! on 06/04/2014 22:03:28 MDT Print View

Nice effort everyone! Sounds brutal and beautiful. Anyone hear from Spelt?

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: BMWO 2014 Swimming and Hobbling on 06/05/2014 10:22:00 MDT Print View

I got an email from Spelt. He ended up bailing to East Glacier and was able to Amtrack back to Whitefish and retreive his car from our house while I was at work yesterday. So everyone is out fine, and no one got within 50 miles of the finish!

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
checking in on 06/07/2014 22:10:44 MDT Print View

Just a quick note to say I am working on a report but between moving and my copious notes it will emerge slowly. I hope to have the first part up by Tuesday. Dave,Adam,Tanner,great to read your accounts.

ETA: the great thing about self-imposed deadlines is you can watch them whoosh by w/o TOO much guilt...

Edited by spelt on 06/12/2014 06:35:59 MDT.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
2015 BMWO on 06/12/2014 14:22:20 MDT Print View

A thought for 2015 for folks to consider: Gibson to Skyland TH, starting on March 28th.

John St. Laurent
(johnstl) - M

Locale: Pacific NW
2015 BMWO on 06/13/2014 15:13:50 MDT Print View

That sounds.... cold!

In the plus column: there wouldn't be the usual back-and-forth about whether to pack snowshoes.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: 2015 BMWO on 06/13/2014 16:45:53 MDT Print View

David,
Do you sitting around thinking about how to increase pain and punishment? That would be a true winter trip. I'm guessing it has a good ski option?

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Re: Re: BMWO 2014 Swimming and Hobbling on 06/13/2014 17:21:14 MDT Print View

That would be smack in the middle of my spring break, the first time I'd be able to do this event.

On the other hand, I don't know a damned thing about skiing.

David Chenault
(DaveC) - BPL Staff - F

Locale: Crown of the Continent
Re: Re: 2015 BMWO on 06/13/2014 17:43:24 MDT Print View

Malto, I can't think of a good hiking route. ;)

Craig, it's just like surfing, only with two sticks and two poles.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
Re: Re: Re: 2015 BMWO on 06/15/2014 14:18:08 MDT Print View

Keepin' it fresh. I'd like another crack at negotiating high water, but depending on avalanche risk (with which I have neglible practical experience) 2015 is a possibility. I wouldn't mind a do-over of 2014 either. Or even to do the route I had planned for 2013 when I didn't make it.

Possibilities. I like 'em.