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
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.