Backpacking in The Bob
Jan 23, 2021 at 12:11 pm #3695190
I’m thinking of a weeklong backpack in the Bob Marshall/Scapegoat area this summer.
1. I know that a lot of outfitters take dudes on horseback trips into the wilderness for sightseeing and fishing in the summer, and I heard that they must pay a fee to the Forest Service for each night spent in the backcountry. So my question is: is it possible that my hiking party would get “kicked out” of a nice camping spot by an outfitter who thinks he has more of a right to that spot than we do? I’m not talking about their “hard-sided” backcountry camps that they set up each year–mainly for hunting purposes.
2. Can you tell me if there are good camping spots on Sunburst Lake and Picture Lake (along Picture Ridge)?
3. I heard or read that you can’t camp below the Chinese Wall. Are there any other no-camping zones I should be aware of? Are these areas noted on an official website somewhere? or are there no-camping signs in the backcountry?Jan 24, 2021 at 5:18 am #3695285EnyawBPL Member
Can’t answer your questions, but I did a horsepack trip in the Bob two decades ago. It was the trip of a lifetime.
I guess I can kind of answer question #1. I couldn’t see you getting kicked out of a site by an outfitter. The sites aren’t marked and/or reserved, and there’s so much space in the Bob- at least there was 2o years ago, I couldn’t see any “fighting” over spots.Apr 10, 2021 at 11:44 am #3708480
Here’s some answers for you; hope they’re still pertinent!
1. It’s first come, first serve in all places of the backcountry in the Bob; no one has the ‘right’ to boot someone who is already set up. That being said, I generally avoid the obvious outfitter campsites because a) they’re already overused by the outfitters themselves (especially tending to be salted with horse poop everywhere), and 2) I wouldn’t want to be set up for the night and have a big crowd show up. Really, this is pretty much a non-issue as there is plenty of room for all in most places. Also, outfitters know that the backpacking community is a powerful lobby and they are motivated to ‘get along’ with hikers in order to avoid bad press. Generally, they’re pretty nice folks too and I can’t imagine them even thinking of chasing away another camper.
2. There are definitely good camping spots at both lakes. I was part of a trail crew that cleared the route up to Picture ridge and the whole crew stayed two nights at Picture Lake. Sunburst is one of the more popular places in the Bob, so you’re sure to find spots there too.
3. The only no-camping places I’m aware of are the 2 miles or so between Cliff mountain and Salt Mountain, which is basically the headwaters of Moose Creek, and is clearly marked on the Cairn Cartographics maps (highly recommended). This restriction was necessary due to overuse, but is unique in the Bob to my knowledge. Otherwise, you’re not supposed to camp “in the vicinity” of forest service cabins; although, that’s pretty loosely defined and enforced.
You asked about ‘no camping’ signs? Here’s the sign at Salt Mountain:Apr 12, 2021 at 1:47 pm #3708687
Thanks Dan. I appreciate the info. BTW are you AKA Bubba?Apr 12, 2021 at 4:06 pm #3708704Tom MBPL Member
I think Dan covered it well and although there is a first come first serve policy in the bob I would refrain from taking a large camp if there is only a few of you. Sunburst is a fairly popular spot now days but there are lots of nice camp spots at the lake and stock is not allowed up trail 693. If you are planning on using trail 226 to gain picture ridge depending on time of year crossing gorge creek is a no go or death defying swim. If you are gaining picture ridge from meadow creek t.h. the trail is completely gone up to Sara peak from the 2015 bear creek fire. If you pm your route and itinerary I can offer some areas I know are good campsites. cheersApr 12, 2021 at 7:58 pm #3708734
Mark: Yeah, I’m the guy who does ShastaBubba Adventures. If you have more questions, I’m happy to help. Tom is a font of info on the Bob too and can hike me in the dirt any day!
Tom: I’m so bummed to hear about that trail up Sara Peak being destroyed. That was the trail we worked on. Funny how putting in a little sweat clearing a trail makes you feel like you own it from that time forevermore. Good argument for getting more folks involved with trail maintenance I guess. Do you know the condition of the trail up Hungry Creek from the Black Bear Cabin?Apr 13, 2021 at 7:24 am #3708768Tom MBPL Member
Its brushed in fairly heavy (jungle) but manageable. Two years ago almost climbed on the back of a big male grizzly in there its so thick. As far as camping on picture ridge there are some areas you could bivy depending on the size of your footprint and picture lake has camp spots. Here is your trail in 2019Apr 13, 2021 at 7:36 am #3708770
Thanks guys for the good info. Unfortunately, since my first post, some personal things going on at home are most likely going to make me cancel my annual road trip to the West this year. So any trip to the Bob will be via maps and YouTube.
I was looking at going up trail 226. Do you think Gorge Creek would be fordable in early September?
Dan, we had previously conversed on via your YouTube comments. I love your videos, especially the “teaching” ones. Keep up the good work!Apr 13, 2021 at 8:22 pm #3708834
Tom: Thanks for the info & pics. I’ll have to wander up that way sometime and check it out again.
Mark: Thanks so much for the kind words; really means a lot to me that the videos are helping folks. I’ll keep at it! Hope you get a chance next year to do your trip west.Jun 1, 2021 at 7:06 pm #3716633Joe HallBPL Member
I thought I’d piggy back on to this thread. My partner and I are planning a 7-8 day trip in the Bob and are looking for route suggestions. Isolation is important (our idea of a perfect trip is one where we see zero people) so we’d love to avoid horse trains or any other crowded areas.
Let me know if you have any suggestions.
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