Bob Marshall Wilderness Open – Eccentric But Not Insane
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Jun 10, 2012 at 12:53 pm #1885709Jason HamMember
Congratulations on completing the trip ahead of the pack, despite the many hindrances you encountered! Those types of conditions can really put you to the test, and add to the satisfaction of a an accomplished journey. I find when I push myself beyond what I previously felt I could do(this may include being miserable during certain sections of the hike) I'm smiling for days afterward just thinking about the trip. It's TRs like yours that kick my butt when I'm feeling lazy and motivate me to condition harder than before!Jun 20, 2012 at 10:01 pm #1888871
I'm excited to be heading back to the Bob in a couple weeks. My wife and I are attempting a ~6 day hiking/rafting loop on Danaher Ck, S.Fork Flathead and N.Fork Sun River. Looks to be about 60 miles of walking and 40 miles of floating.
Here's a few more pictures from the BMWO. Such a great experience.
Chinese Wall in the Distance
White and Grey – Along Juliet Creek / N. Fork White River
Fog Patches Along the White River
Jun 21, 2012 at 6:33 am #1888910
Dan- you guys will have a blast I'm sure, bring a fishing pole :)
MikeJun 21, 2012 at 7:38 am #1888920Eugene SmithBPL Member
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
Sounds like fun.Jun 21, 2012 at 3:28 pm #1889048
After years of reading Ryan Jordan extolling how amazing the cutthroat fishing is, I'm bringing the rod for sure.Jun 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm #1889055
don't be too surprised if something unexpectedly makes mince meat of your line, there are some 12-15 lb bull trout lurking in those waters too :)Jun 26, 2012 at 11:38 am #1890270Michael WinslowSpectator
@bigcharlieLocale: Manhattan, NY
First off great trip report loved reading it and you are a really a brave guy.
Secondly want to ask about Grizzly Bears in the Bob Marshall. My two hiking buddies and I have the Bob Marshall on the calendar for 2013 or 2014 depending on when I can get away – we just got back from the Grand Canyon – and I wanted to ask about the Grizzly Bears in the Bob.
What sort of things did you do or think about before you did your hike?
Are there many encounters in the Bob?
Besides the spray did you have any idea what you would do if you had an encounter?
I know statistically speaking your chances of seeing one let alone encountering one is slim even though there are more in the Bob than most anywhere else but were you concerned. Were the other hikers?
Very curious about what hikers do about keeping safe other than the regular camping smart, making noise and bear spray.
Any thoughts on this would be really appreciated.
Mike Winslow – New York, NY – BackpackerJun 26, 2012 at 12:12 pm #1890279David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
Late on the first evening out (930ish) I came up a short hill along the S Fork of the Sun into a meadow and was about 60 feet away from a smaller adult Griz. It stood up on back legs and spent a good minute trying to figure out what I was. Once it did it ran off.
I'd start by reading Steve Herrero's "Bear Attacks," then do more research from there. Safety protocols in bear country should be guided by your own knowledge and preferences.Jun 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm #1890409Richard LyonBPL Member
@richardglyonLocale: Bridger Mountains
I've seen several – all from a great distance, thank goodness – and seen signs, such as scat, tree markings, and tracks, uncomfortably close to camp. About all I can recommend beyond standard bear protocols is not to hike from twilight until well after dawn. Bears and other game use the trails too, and it's on or near the trails that I've seen evidence of their presence.Jun 26, 2012 at 9:39 pm #1890447
I personally break down hiking in grizzly country into 3 steps:
1) Avoiding Encounters
2) Managing Encounters
3) Managing Attacks
You really need to have a plan for each and only if all three go wrong do you wind up hurt.
To avoid encounters, you need to consider where you're hiking, the time of day, the time of year, bear evidence, vegetation, terrain et al. Then based on your on-going mental risk assessment you can decide if you're going to hike freely, hiking while making noise, not hike, hike somewhere else etc.
Managing encounters is a big subject and a very important one since if you hike long enough in grizzly country then eventually you'll run into one. I ran into one a few years ago in BC and see them regularly up here in the arctic where I work. Based on a quick judgement call about the bears mindstate (ie. curious, surprised, predatory etc) you can take the appropriate action. I'm not going to go into that here since it's a huge discussion. The reason I hike in grizzly country is because I know very few encounters are predatory, so my odds are extremely good of things never progressing beyond this step if I do a good job with #1 and #2.
The final step is where the bear spray comes in, which means you'll almost certainly never use it. Things like bear spray, playing dead, fighting back etc all come into play here depending on your choices.
Overall, have a solid idea of your basic response strategies before heading into the woods, because if you haven't thought it thru then you likely won't make the best choices in the moment.Jun 27, 2012 at 11:51 am #1890574
depending on how long your trip, is I'd say you have a better than fair chance of seeing a grizzly in the Bob, when I worked there we were in for ten days at a time and I don't recall many hitches where I didn't see at least one grizzly
I also recommend you thoroughly read up on the subject, the better informed you are the better off both you and mr. grizzly are :)
they are an magnificent animal to see in the wild and it's very rare that it turns ugly, but it does happen, so it behooves anyone traveling in grizzly country to be well versed in dealing with encountersJul 5, 2012 at 8:22 am #1892367Michael WinslowSpectator
@bigcharlieLocale: Manhattan, NY
Thanks a lot really appreciate it!Jul 5, 2012 at 11:37 am #1892407Mark RiesSpectator
Some very good comments and all sound, sane and obviously educated advise so far. This site needs more education on this subject but every discussion seems to end up so counter productive that I hate even seeing it start. Saying its always ok to always sleep with your food and not carry bear spray cause "Ive never had problems" and "the risk is so low" is like saying there is no need to drive defensively cause ive never been in a wreck.Jul 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm #1892503
While this thread is a bit focused on skills, I thought I would ask a question. I've recently started my first real job out of college, and so I have a lot less time, but a lot more money. I am looking to do trips that cost a bit more money, but put a lot more experiences into less time.
With that in mind, I am hoping to compete in the BMWO next year. I'm located down in Georgia, so our seasons are quite a bit different than that of Montana. So I will probably do most of my skill training during this winter because those are about as challenging as times get here and want to be sure I know what kind of things I should focus on so not to waste time.
For anyone who competed or has experiences in the Bob, what skills would you suggest I focus on? Travel techniques, coping with weather, etc. I appreciate any thoughts and tips.Jul 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm #1893773
What skills would you suggest I focus on?"
Great to hear you're thinking of showing up. There's certainly a lot of skills that are helpful for a hike like this. I feel a bit weird even offering advice on this because I have so much learning to do myself, but I'll try to share a bit of what I've learned.
A basic competency in some skills is pretty much essential (ie. navigation, clothing choices), while others skills can be quite helpful but if you lack them then you can compensate with your gear and route choices (ie. packrafting, river fording etc). So considering which skills are essential and which ones are optional may help illuminate the best areas to work on. As an example, I made the choice early on that I wasn't going to packraft the 2012 BMWO because I lacked the paddling skills, familiarity with the local rivers and cold weather paddling clothing to do so safely. I could have working on developing in these areas, but I chose to focus elsewhere.
Navigation and cold/wet weather clothing choices are two skill areas that are pretty much required. You don't need to be the best navigator (I'm certainly far from it) but you need a basic competency and then you can work from there. If you're so-so navigator, you may be able to account for that with your gear choices (ie. altimeter, gps) and route choices (ie. simpler terrain). Knowing basic skills like map/compass is essential. This is one of the areas I want to improve most upon for 2013. Here's a good website with info on this:
Cold/wet weather clothing is another important area. To some degree you can account for this by taking more clothing, but it's ideal to get your clothing selection refined. I was very happy with my clothing choices in 2012 (see gearlist in my profile) but the weather conditions could be wildly different next year and each person is different both physically and in their hiking styles.
Knowing your own body is another skill/knowledge area that is pretty important. On one hand it's interesting to push beyond what you've ever done before, but it's still good to have a decent idea of how your body is going to respond. Knowing how many hours/day you'll be able to hike and how much sleep you need affects other choices like food, clothing and sleeping equipment. I'd recommend doing a couple high milage one nighters in advance.
Other helpful skills include snow travel, grizzly encounters, water crossings, avalanches etc. You can make choices to minimize your exposure in all of these areas though. For example, Stadler and Larch Hill passes have quite a bit lower exposure to avy risk than White pass.
Snow travel is one of the toughest areas to really plan for this far ahead. The route was do-able without snow shoes last year, although they were certainly handy at times. Taking some small/light snowshoes (ie. a kids model) like Dave C. did was probably the best snow travel choice in 2012.
I'd recommend picking up the North and South halves of the Bob map and getting familiar with the general area early on even though the start/finish points haven't been finalized yet. It doesn't sound like they're going to change too much though, so you could put together a few possible routes and perhaps come up with a tentative strategy from there and start to mull over aspects like snow travel, water crossings/travel etc.Jul 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm #1894406
Dan, I appreciate the tips. Are these the maps you suggest for the Bob?
Packrafting will not be part of any route I choose, because it is just not in my budget at the time. I look at that as a good thing though, because it will allow me to focus on the other areas more for this first hopeful attempt.
I like the link provided for navigation. It is a very nice resource, and it will definitely something that I need to strengthen as well.
Do you think you will be packing the tarp and quilt for next year?Jul 13, 2012 at 6:51 pm #1894627
Are these the maps you suggest for the Bob?
Yes those are the ones. Get the South and North half maps now that both are available. While not essential, I also recommend printing off some higher detail topo's for the more difficult areas on your route (ie. passes). Low elevation areas likely won't be too hard navigationally as the bare ground should make finding/following trails pretty straightforward, but I bring detailed maps for any high elevation areas where the trails are likely to be obscured by snow and the route is more complex than just following a valley (ie. the passes). I print mine off from here (add the UTM grid):
Packrafting will not be part of any route I choose
Sounds like a smart plan to me. Dave C. did a good job choosing a course/venue where packrafting opens up some neat options, yet isn't wildly faster and thus discouraging to the non-rafters.
Do you think you will be packing the tarp and quilt for next year?
Yes. I'll take my 15oz quilt for sure. IMO its weight well spent because I can be sleeping during all the time others would be collecting wood and maintaining a fire. I want to be either walking or sleeping at all times.
I sold my Echo I tarp to buy something more fully enclosed (MLD DuoMid) so I will be carrying that. The Echo I worked well, but it's quite a small tarp so I wouldn't have wanted to use it in adverse conditions at/above tree line with snow and high winds. With the DuoMid I'll have the option to hunker down almost anywhere, plus it's quicker to setup.Jul 13, 2012 at 8:08 pm #1894641
Thanks for the input on shelter. It actually matches almost exactly what I use during the wetter/colder season here.
I know some people don't take a quilt and shelter, but my thought for now (and plan when I train) will be to take it with me, even if just as a safety net for a first attempt in a new environment.
I have been using a MYOG Duomid I made as my main shelter recently and agree that it has an amazingly fast set up time. The main difference for me is I have really enjoyed using synthetic insulation in my quilts and have used my 19oz quilt with 5oz Apex to about 35* so will probably use some form of that.
Thanks again for me the help.
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