2023 Bob Marshall Wilderness Open
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- This topic has 83 replies, 25 voices, and was last updated 1 day, 10 hours ago by Kyle P.
May 15, 2023 at 5:11 pm #3781251Michael GillenwaterBPL Member
@mwgillenwaterLocale: Seattle area
Also SF flow data logger is back online
https://waterdata.usgs.gov/monitoring-location/12359800/#parameterCode=00065&period=P365DMay 15, 2023 at 5:16 pm #3781252
Michael, I’ll likely be on a similar route looking for a “fast casual” 2.5-ish day finish. My only debate is whether or not to add some flavor with a burnt or holbrook creek route to the SF. Anybody have a feel for how those drainages faired in the last few years of wind storms?
I fly to Kalispell kinda late on Friday and likely won’t be getting out of town till 7pm or so. That said, I’ve got room if anybody needs a ride to the start. I’m planning to just drive to the start and figure out the return hitch later. I could also be talked into working a shuttle arrangement from the finish, but that would probably be a late night with all the driving.
I’m stoked for another long walk in the Bob!May 15, 2023 at 9:22 pm #3781259
James: that’s quite the trip. Definitely document that one and let us know how it goes. The upper White: check out Rob’s trip report from 2020. Sounds like some portaging is involved.
Michael and crew: good looking route. Though it may not be the most fun, you might consider rafting Big Salmon lake for the novelty of it. I’ve done it heading the other direction and it was pretty cool … but of course long. According to your map it looks like you’re sending Meadow Creek Gorge?
Seth, haven’t found any recent beta on the conditions of those creeks, but I’m interested enough to find out for myself the hard way haha.
Shuttle: I’m hoping to catch a ride from Missoula to the start on Friday if there’s anyone heading that way?May 15, 2023 at 9:32 pm #3781260
Michael – that’s the route I’m planning as well though I’ll be on foot. It gives me the Black Bear Bridge to cross the SF (not sure how I feel about swimming yet), and is a relatively low elevation route. Happy to walk with your crew till you put in! I’m aiming for a 3.5-4 day finish.
I’m still working on logistics of dropping a car at the finish – my commitments back home make that the option allowing me to do the route this year. I’m looking into shuttle options, but if any other folks are planning something like that, I’d love to chip in and be involved! Otherwise, I’m plotting a route of similar distance as a loop.
Looking forward to seeing everyone either way – any interest in a Friday night gathering this year?May 16, 2023 at 8:48 am #3781277Tom MBPL Member
Sorry to hear you will not be toeing the line this year but I get it. In regards to your route by no means do I wish to spoil your plans with negativity, but dropping into the headwaters of silvertip creek should be really spicey along with your route into wall creek. What you refer to as Hart pass is not a pass as far as I know. I have been on that ridge a fair amount (its referred to as the North Chinese wall) and the only exit into the Sun river valley I have found is near Sock Lake to the south and its spicey in the summer time. Cornices would be my fear this time of year and I would have plenty of plan B options in place. I digress. Have fun, take lots of pictures and be safe.
I will be at Owl Ck mid day Friday and will be cooking dinner there (my small bbq will be available if anyone wants to use it.) My shuttle vehicle at Marias can haul 3 extra people provided you finish before me :)
I’m heading out today for 7 days in the bob.May 16, 2023 at 10:17 am #3781279
Would be interested in your route, and whether or not you’re raftingMay 16, 2023 at 10:32 am #3781280Michael GillenwaterBPL Member
@mwgillenwaterLocale: Seattle area
Seth, Kyle, and Tyler,
happy to walk the route together if anyone wants. I think we are also on the “fast casual” mode, although will be packrafting. I don’t think we are aiming to intentionally add spice to the trek. Having been through the Bob a number of times (although this is our first Open), I’m confident the Bob or the SF will add spice on its own. It always does in some unexpected manner.
My folks live just under an hour north of the Holland Lake trailhead, so I’m flying out early to visit with them and my crew (Marc and Austin) will all gather there.
Paddling down Salmon lake sounds slow, so unless the trail is a muddy mess, walking seems more practical. And we will portage Meadow Creek Gorge. That just was not marked on the Caltoto.
I think the plan is to leave a car at the finish and get dropped off at trailhead by my folks. So we should have a free seat if someone needs a ride at the finish and is there around the same time.
We are thinking 3 days, but we will also just see how it goes.May 16, 2023 at 10:33 am #3781281James TaylorBPL Member
Kyle – Thanks for the info, that’s good to know about Rob’s route and his times down that section.
Tom – That’s exactly the type of negative news I was hoping to hear. It sounds like I definitely need to have alternate routes and passes up my sleeve on that northern section, with a bail to the Spotted Bear River ready. I tend to make up routes that no one else has done and then find out the hard way why no one else has done them, so you’ve probably saved me a lot of effort. Have fun on your trip!May 16, 2023 at 11:03 am #3781282
Michael- I’d be happy to take an open seat if it is alright, I can be at Marias anytime on FridayMay 16, 2023 at 6:35 pm #3781288Aaron MillsBPL Member
Looks like me and a buddy are coming up from Bozeman. We can possibly drive by Marias Pass on the way and pick someone up. Have not really figured out our shuttle. Looking forward to getting into the Bob for the first time this year.May 23, 2023 at 5:41 am #3781702Adam RBPL Member
We are dropping a vehicle at Maria’s then shuttling to the start on Friday. We will have room for up to 3 people + gear.May 24, 2023 at 9:22 am #3781778
Adam I shot you a message. Thanks!May 25, 2023 at 8:53 am #3781817Will BBPL Member
I’m real bummed to miss this year, hope you all have a great time out there. Especially interested to hear if anyone gets on Little Salmon coming down from the Swan into the SF.May 25, 2023 at 11:17 am #3781818Anders N.BPL Member
Looks like I’ll be attempting basically the same route as the rest of the packraft crew (assuming my dog recovers from a mystery ailment in time so I can make it to the start). I might bring more whitewater gear so that if levels are good and legs are not I can bail on the finish hike and check out the rest of the Middle Fork out to the road. Will, I’m looking at paddling down from the Swans into the South Fork; I was thinking that Big Salmon seemed more likely than Little to be navigable?May 25, 2023 at 12:55 pm #3781824Will BBPL Member
You’re right, my memory was off. Little Salmon looks small and woody but has a 2 mile section with neat looking ledges and slides that could be worth wood issues, but definitely not worth it in for an Open. There are about 4 miles of Big Salmon that look open-worthy between the Class 5 and the lake. Excited to hear about those!May 29, 2023 at 11:19 pm #3782157Anders N.BPL Member
Tapped the obelisk a little before 8PM on Monday, May 29. Pretty straightforward route to Salmon Forks, Spotted Bear, Schaefer Meadows, granite, and out. Only bit of free-form was an afternoon spent confirming that Big Salmon Creek really isn’t navigable in a practical sense. Hadn’t been on the MF before but it seemed to be at a really friendly level. Looking forward to hearing how everyone’s trip went!May 30, 2023 at 12:26 am #3782160
Hell yeah Anders! Awesome work. Love the Big Salmon experiment. Can’t wait to hear about that.
Made it to the pass at 10:30 tonight (Monday)
Lena Lake Pass (copied from Dave 2015) ->Holbrook pass ->Pagoda Pass ->Wall Creek Pass -> Pentagon Pass – Maria’s Pass.
Excited to hear how the Middle Fork ford worked out for the walkers. Certainly seemed tempting in spots …May 30, 2023 at 1:48 pm #3782176Elliot HBPL Member
Our trio ran into some connective tissue issues. Down to the SF via big salmon and then bailed on a loop back up Holbrook. Was great to see folks at owl creek. May write up something longer. Looking forward to hearing about everybody’s trips.May 30, 2023 at 4:43 pm #3782190
Congrats Anders and Kyle- great work!
Elliot was great to see you again. Guessing your buddies still got a good adventure in :)
The Helena/Kalispell crew decided to pull the pin Sunday afternoon/evening (Keinan, John & myself @ Meadow Ck; Tom and Andrew @ the Spotted Bear crossing near Big Bill). Flows were high enough to give you pause (I get swept/dunked on a crossing day one!) and the idea of not making it across the Middle Fork and then having to backtrack from there……. not appealing.
A nice turnout, with nearly half the folks first timers was great. Didn’t get to meet everyone unfortunately, maybe next year.May 30, 2023 at 4:45 pm #3782191
As they say in the WestMay 30, 2023 at 6:10 pm #3782195Adam RBPL Member
Chris and I decided to pull early as well. We went over Gordon pass down to big prairie then looped back through big salmon and got back to the trailhead late Monday. Still had a tremendous experience and look forward to giving it another go in the future. It was great getting to visit with some of you the night before! Great group!May 30, 2023 at 7:12 pm #3782201
Kyle and I had quite the adventure on the Lena lake to Holbrook route. Pretty sure Mike and Tom sandbagged us bad on that one. Holbrook is clear they said. You should be able to sneak around the worst of the snow, they said. After hours of sliding around on wet bear grass and postholing to our knees in rotten snow in the rain, we finally put on the south fork around 7:30 pm and floated together down to Kyle’s takeout a mile before black bear bridge. Hours later than I’d planned, I was already doing the math on the lean food bag and a slightly tweaked ankle and knee from falling through a snow bridge. Kyle was looking strong and clearly stoked on a finish, so I tried a poker face as we ate dinner in the rain, knowing full well I would probably bail in the morning unless I woke up feeling 100%.
Sunday, I slept in and enjoyed a leasurely breakfast on the banks of the south fork until Dan and the Bozeman boys rolled by. I packed up and caught them at the mid creek takeout. Dan said he was planning to bail at spotted bear and could have a ride, so that sealed the deal. All that was left was to enjoy the beautiful river miles to spotted bear, and boy did I. Much thanks to Dan and his wife for the hitch and for taking me all the way back to my car at the start. That comeraderie is one of the things that makes the Open special.
In all, it was a great trip, and turned exactly what I needed even if it didn’t go to plan. With lots of work and life stress this spring, the fitness was fine but the mind just wasn’t in the right place to push through. I didn’t sleep well Friday night, knowing what a finish would take and pretty sure I didn’t have it. Instead, I got an engaging day of hiking with good company and a 35+ mile float trip on the south fork. That’s a 5 star trip any way you cut it.May 31, 2023 at 7:06 am #3782222
We got a report that a group of rafters had accidentally left their food tied up (I think at the Big Salmon confluence) and took off paddling down river the next morning.
Anyone have an idea who that was and if they were able to get their food back???May 31, 2023 at 7:45 am #3782228May 31, 2023 at 8:18 am #3782232
I had a great time in my first Bob Open, and Bob experience in general, despite a bail at Spotted Bear on Sunday.
Trip was off to a great start with a ride from Marias to Bigfork provided by Michael and Marc. It was nice to have a bed the night before – thanks again for the hospitality!
The initial ascent to Pendant Pass went well and I ended up reaching Upper Holland with Dylan (apologies if the wrong spelling) right around 10 am. We caught Anders and Zach at the top of the pass. The four of us descended together, with a slight detour off trail in the snow, but found it fairly navigable without too much trouble on the overflowing creek crossings.
Zach and I left Dylan and Anders to try rafting Big Salmon above the lake, and we pushed on to Black Bear Bridge that first night. This turned out to be further than expected, about 36.5 miles, and it was a day that took a lot out of us – I had let my hydration get behind and was feeling pretty rough when we rolled in around 10pm.
We woke up and took our time the next morning chatting with a Montana Conservation Corps crew who was staying at the cabin by the bridge. Their leader gave us some intel on crossing the Middle Fork, which made it sound possible but fairly risky. Luckily after drinking a lot of water, we were feeling well, and we took off up the South Fork.
Hiking up the SF was an easier day than Saturday, but an expected 19 miles to Spotted Bear ended up being about 23, and when we hit the packed forest service road at the campground, we could feel the miles. We took a long break to dry feet in the sun, planning to push on to about halfway up the Big Bill slope to drop into Schafer Creek early the next day. On our way out of Spotted Bear, we got more bad intel about the Middle Fork from locals, and an offer for a ride out from Leo’s friend John. That, and the prospect of a 20 mile bail back from the Middle Fork in the worst case added to a route with increasing mileage made bailing the best option. We took the ride after 60 miles by foot in around 32 hours. Ended up shuttling out with Leo, Zach, Michael, Marc, and Dylan – quite the ragtag crew!
Overall, it was a phenomenal experience, especially given all the people I got to meet. You all made it special. I’ll be back again in future years – probably with a boat and a little extra time/fitness!
P.S – Leo saw the lost bear bag still hung on the frame of the bridge over Big Salmon at the SF confluence. Not sure who the owners were.
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