Bob Open 2017
May 26, 2017 at 9:53 am #3469945
got word that Dave C will not be making the trek this year- a little too much going on w/ his new job, recent move, etc will certainly be different with him not going
I do believe he will be there this evening and tomorrow morning to see us off thoughMay 26, 2017 at 10:40 am #3469958Tyler HBPL Member
You can keep track of us – Tyler, Jon and Justin – at this inReach link: https://share.garmin.com/TylerH. Please keep in mind that we may or may not turn on our device, so don’t worry if you aren’t seeing any pins.
We’re riding up with Kyle today, with an eye out for stragglers. I’m leaving my grey Prius at the start. We’re planning to finish by Tuesday… but if anybody finishes and needs a ride, and the car is still there, sit tight and we are happy to give you a ride home. Will be going to Missoula and then Helena Wednesday.
Can’t wait to see and meet everybody in Choteau!May 26, 2017 at 6:58 pm #3470036
the stories (and some beer) were flowing :)May 27, 2017 at 9:17 pm #3470188
This is Kyle’s wife, Chrissy. He just called me from a ranch at the end of Gibson Reservoir because his spot stopped working. He thinks it got too wet from packrafting. He is continuing his planned route. He asked me to post on here incase anyone was following his spot.May 29, 2017 at 12:22 pm #3470339Chase MBPL Member
@walkingfoot-2Locale: Pacific Northwest
Derek and I are out. We turned around at Indian Point yesterday afternoon, then bailed to Benchmark where we got picked up. Overused my posterior patella tendon and didn’t have enough IBP to control the inflammation and climb White Pass.May 29, 2017 at 4:47 pm #3470372Kevin BBPL Member
@newmexikevLocale: Western New Mexico, USA
Dan the man!!!May 29, 2017 at 6:22 pm #3470387Josh DurstonBPL Member
Any progress updates? Wish I was closer to Montana…May 29, 2017 at 6:37 pm #3470391Dan GregersonBPL Member
@dlgregersonLocale: Bob Marshall Wilderness
According to the tracking info, Dan just finished about half an hour ago.
Mike and crew appear to have balked crossing at the Young’s creek ford and took a 10-mile detour to use the pack bridge at Big Prairie and are now working their way up Gordon creek (probably to exit via Holland Lk.)
Tyler, Jon, Justin and Matt all seem to be through the Young’s creek valley and appear to be heading up Babcock creek, no doubt following Dan’s footsteps. Can’t tell whether they’re all together, or Matt, et al are trailing somewhat.
No word from Kyle since his Spot died on the N. Fork Sun.May 29, 2017 at 7:00 pm #3470394Josh DurstonBPL Member
That’s a relief, I was a little nervous about my brother’s ultra minimal kit tempting fate… He knows his limits better than I do though.May 29, 2017 at 9:39 pm #3470419Dan GregersonBPL Member
@dlgregersonLocale: Bob Marshall Wilderness
Correction: Tyler and his crowd are moving farther up the Young’s creek drainage … maybe headed for Pyramid pass?
Looks like Mike may have stopped for the night at the Shaw Creek cabin, about 5 miles shy of Gordon pass above Holland Lake.
Matt is about 5000′ elevation on Babcock, which is probably just below snow level and a good place to stop for the night, unless they hope to cross the ridge in the cooler temps with more solid snow.
Dan D. is definitely “the man” having completed the BMWO first (I believe this is the third time?).May 30, 2017 at 12:46 am #3470438
Hey all! I’m back in Missoula after staggering into Inez with my entourage of mosquitos around 10:00 p.m.
I’ll put together a trip report, but here are some highlights.
Day One: West Fork Cabin to Pretty Prairie. 8:00 – 12:30. Packrafted the N. Fork of the Sun. Spot got fried after getting wet. Dammit. Took out before the gorge and realized it so hiked to K.L Ranch to call my wife and let her know I was very much still alive before continuing up the Sun and toward Indian Point.
Day Two: 5:30-1:00a.m. Pretty Prairie to Junction of Big Salmon Creek Trail and Albino Trail (near Tango Creek) up the Salmon Drainage. Really sketchy ford at West Fork of the Sun, will be interesting to hear Matt’s report. Suffer-fest up White River pass through punchy snow. Crested around noon. Ditto on Matt’s report behind me. (packrafting the White River to the South Fork, taking out at Big Salmon drainage … portaging the packraft through downfall and packrafting salmon lake for the tri-fecta).
Day Three: 5:30a.m. – 10:30p.m. Junction of Big Salmon Creek Trail and Albino Trail to Lake Inez via Pendant Pass and the hellish forest roads (two mile stretch of awful downfall? and a mosquito tornado in blazing heat) West of hwy 83.
Good to be home, will be cheering on the rest of the crew.May 30, 2017 at 1:45 pm #3470498Dan MBPL Member
Mich crew out at gibson-3:30 monday– pleased to do that as rookies, –the rest of you guys are animals!!
was a blast, learned a ton- had a griz walk into camp first night -post more next week- colorado crew out safe too- chase and derek – thxs for pick-upMay 30, 2017 at 4:19 pm #3470540
Messing around with my feet elevated on the rest day. Here’s a map of the route with geo-mapped images and video along the way.
And you thought you were going to have a productive end to your work day …
All Photo Folder * EditMay 30, 2017 at 8:31 pm #3470589Matt LBPL Member
Hey guys, I’m out … got picked up at Morrell Falls trailhead at 4pm today. I couldn’t make it to the campground with my ankle hurting. I’ll post more later this week, but WOW, lots of rough terrain, long days, and scary fords!! Thad is the man! We linked up after he split from Mike and John and went up Babcock creek and down Grizzly Basin.
Can’t wait to hear how the 4+ fords went starting at Babcock and then Youngs creek went for Tyler, John, and Justin. That was my motivation to go up Babcock … I’d rather bushwack then ford nasty rivers solo. Started giving me a high stress level.
Kyle, thanks for the trail up White River Pass! LOL. Yeah that West Fork White River ford was not fun. Did you float the first part of the White River then walk the rest? I thought I picked up your tracks a mile or so down river.May 30, 2017 at 9:58 pm #3470604Dan DurstonBPL Member
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
Finished at 6pm yesterday (58 hrs). I won’t be able to a proper trip report because I lost my camera en route, and because I’m starting a thru-hike of the Canadian Rockies tomorrow so I’m tight for time. So here goes a quick one.
BMWO 2017 – NOT A GIMME
For the BMWO is an opportunity to really challenge yourself. I don’t normally hike anywhere near the fast, hard and minimal, but I like to use the BMWO as an opportunity to challenge myself and explore limits. Just doing the thing was terrifying back in 2012 and since then I’ve continued to try new things. New this year was a pair of skis, no shelter and a mere 6000 calories in the food bag. The gear list this year totalled just 16.6 lbs include 10.5 lbs of ski stuff.
This year I planned a route suited to skis. It wasn’t really an “alpine” route, but rather one that used higher elevation trails likely to be under snow. I hoped some of the long descents would let me cover some quick miles. I also really wanted to get into the “heart” of the Bob – as far as possible from roads – which I consider to be the NF White River. In the past two BMWO’s I’ve seen gravel roads (spotted bear, mid gorge) and these have hindered the wilderness feel. So I really wanted to get into the meat of it.
Below is that route. Note that it uses 4 passes: Washboard Reef, Switchback Pass, Wall Creek and Sunday Mountain – with 3 of those around 8000′. It also front loads those passes, with 3 on the first day.
Day 1 – 39 Miles – NF Teton River to NF White River
My hope for the first day was to get over Washboard Reef, Switchback Pass and Wall Ck Pass before dark (ETA 8pm), so I didn’t have much time for slippage. If I could do that, I thought I might be able to hike all night and finish in the evening on day 2.
Things went as planned for the first 3 miles up Olney Creek, but then I couldn’t find the turn off for the trail over Washboard Reef. The actual problem here is embarrassing to admit on hindsight. On the Cairn maps the good trails are black while the sketchy ones are red/black, so it’s easy to distinguish which trails are likely to be derelict. When I planned this route on CalTopo.com using the USFS layer, I thought it was the same color system, but actually all the trails on there are black. So I had no idea I’d picked a poor trail (and quite a few more for the route).
Since I couldn’t find the turn off, I just shot off cross country where the trail should be. I actually did find it a few hundred yards later and it was moderately useful for 30 minutes until the snow started. There wasn’t continuous snow until 7000′ on Washboard Reef, so I only had the skis on the for the last 20 minutes / 800′. The whole reef was heavily corniced except for one small spot near the summit, so I slipped through there and snagged an awesome 1.5 mile or so ski decent. I hummed along on the fast mile I’d done in the Bob.
Unfortunately when the snow ran out, there wasn’t a trail. I criss-crossed where it should be, but looking at the Cairn maps I realized it was a “secondary” trail – and thus potentially didn’t exist. At this moment I had my realization that I’d picked a whole bunch of these trails for my route because of the CalTopo/Cairn discrepancy. Whoops.
So for the rest of the 6 mile decent down Wrong Creek (aptly named) to the NF Sun River I never found a trail. The valley was burnt and the going was tough. I motored pretty hard, but it was still slow going with all the logs down from the fire so I reached the NF Sun at 1pm – an hour behind schedule.
Around this point, my left knee started to hurt and I realized I’d gone a bit too gung-ho with the log jumping and had inflamed the IT band. Knowing how bad this played out in 2012, I got nervous about the knee, but knew I had a good bail out at the Spotted Bear river.
I headed up Open Creek next towards Switchback pass. I was hoping the snow would start soon so I could toss on the skis. It did actually start at 6000′ about 2-3 miles in (of 7.6 miles), but at this point I realized my plan of just picking high elevation trails and hoping to ski them wasn’t great. The skiing works well, but finding the trail gets a bit tricky and yet losing the trail can be quite bad in potentially thick forest. So it was slower than hoped as quite a few times up Open Creek I had to stop and hunt around for the trail.
When I got into the alpine of Switchback pass, it was both awesome and extremely hot. The mid afternoon sun blazing off the snowpack had me re-applying the sunscreen and thankful I’d been drinking lots of water. Sweaty. I was slowed by the crippling heat and crested the pass at 5pm – 2hrs behind schedule because of the misadventures in Wrong Creek, trail finding time and the heat. Still, the alpine around Switchback Pass is some of the coolest in the Bob. It was great being up there and probably the only person for miles.
On the backside of the Switchback I cut left and took a short cut into the Hart Lake valley. It looked really good on the map and shaved several miles, but I also knew from Google Earth that the decent looked like it funnelled into a waterfall. I hesitated dropping in, because a 2 minute 1500′ decent might mean an hour’s slog back up. I got to where the valley pinched into a waterfall, took off the skis (with the snow perfectly ending here). I wondered how many unscouted shortcuts like this a man can take before eventually they get burned. Thankfully I was able to solve the bottleneck with about 100′ of 4th class down scrambling to the valley below. I cut cross country to the trail out of Hart Lake and headed for the Spotted Bear.
The ford across the Spotted Bear River was – perhaps naively – the section I was most worried about on the route. I forget if Dave said this, or if it popped into my head, but the words going through my mind approaching the Spotted Bear ford was that it was a “not a gimme”.
When I got there it looked deep and fast. I realized it might turn into a swim, so I took my hat off and clipped it to my pack. The river didn’t look great for swimming, with some rapids and bushes again, but I ventured out into the waters. I made slow but steady progress and once across, reckoned that if it was any harder a ford wouldn’t be possible. Later it funny to look back on those thoughts. I also thought of my knee again at this point, as now was really the only good bail option on the route. It hurt, but wasn’t too bad. I popped an Aleve and headed onwards.
At 7pm I headed up the Wall Creek trail to the pass at 6800′, thinking how low 6800′ sounded after 2 passes around 8000′. I was still 2 hrs behind at this point, so my ETA was now 10pm at the pass. I wasn’t sure how that descent would go. Soon the snow became patchy (5100′) so I figured I’d putting the skis on soon, but it stayed patchy all the way to 6000′, which was slow. At 9:30pm I finally stopped to pull out the headlamp, eat a pepperoni stick and put on the skis. Thus far I wasn’t sure how I was doing with the small food bag, so I just grazed a few items – mini eggs, 2 bite brownies, havarti – when I felt hunger.
I crested Wall Creek Pass at 11pm and was disappointed to find bare soil on the face. I was a little worried snow would be scant, but there was none. I took the 2 mile trail down to Juliet Creek, arriving around midnight.
Unfortunately the snow did start in the valley bottom. It was abundant, but firm and patchy, so I kept the skis off and made slow progress as I hunted out the trail. Thankfully some elk and wolf tracks gave away it’s location in many places. I thought of the other group headed for this valley, and that I was probably doing them a big help by putting some nice tracks down the hard to discern route.
It was dark but starry at 1:30am when I did the first ford of the NF White. In the darkness it was a little terrifying but I could mostly see was I was up against. It looked a little easier than the Spotted Bear, so I went for it. Once I across, I was getting a bit sleepy and realized that the next ford a few miles downstream would be even harder. I didn’t want to do that in the dark, so I hiked 100 yards off trail to avoid any night wildlife and rolled out my sleeping mat. The lack of a shelter was mentally a bit weird, but it looked like a nice night.
Day 2 – 37 Miles – NF White River Babcock Creek
I awoke with the daylight at 5:30 and got ready for the next ford of the White River. My socks and shoes were frozen, so I skipped the frozen socks and kept my sleep socks dry for the next night.
There are a few more fords of the NF White in the next couple miles, which aren’t too bad (perhaps they are just one braid of the river?), but the 4th and final ford is a doozy. The river was humming at the point. It looked at least as hard as the Spotted Bear to me. Again I suited up for a potential swim, and was aware that such a swim would likely take a while because the banks didn’t look overly conducive to being able to crawl out. Like the Spotted Bear, I made it across, but it was hard. You couldn’t ford straight across because it was so pushy – you’d lose a step downstream with each step. But I just made it.
After this, the pressure seems off. After 3 passes on day 1 I just had easy miles today. Zero passes. Just about 40 miles out the White River, up the SF Flathead and up Youngs Ck. Unfortunately the knee definitely hurt more on day 2. At this point I did all the knee stretches I know (just one) and took out my Aleve pills and counted them – 6. Hmm. I was starting to limp so I took one, figuring that working the knee more was better than the assortment of bizarre injuries that show up when you start doing big miles while compensating for something.
A few hours later I was across the South fork of the White, which was a little tricky but much easier. The left knee hurt more. I unavoidably started to limp and thought about how I should have bailed at the Spotted Bear. Exiting there now was a good 35+ miles with several hard fords, so I pressed on.
Thankfully when I reached the SF Flathead the knee improved. The river was awesome and huge. Such great country. It was super hot and the ponderosa pines where giving off that delicious vanilla pine scent that they do when it’s hot. Mmmm…. I cruised down to Big Prairie – hustling to make miles and because apparently there are no creeks until Lime Creek at Big Prairie so I was parched.
Ever since I called it a night the first night, I knew a 2 day finish was out. Actually it was already on the rocks when I was 2 hrs late to Switchback pass. So my goal for day 2 was to do enough miles than the final 3rd day felt substantially easier. I crossed the SF Flathead on the bridge, glad to not being swimming the year as the river looked massive.
A couple hours later I reached Gordon Creek. Or at least I reached where Gordon should be. I couldn’t see the creek, I could just see where the SF Flathead exited the valley, presumably after meandering into the valley mouth higher up, joining with the creek, and then exiting as one. I looked harder, thought about it, and realized this was Gordon Creek. I’d never seen Gordon Ck before so I didn’t know what to expect, but I was blown away. I thought of how unimpressed the folks would be that detour 12 miles around the Young’s ford just to find this massive “creek” in their way instead.
On the Spotted Bear and NF White I prepared to swim, but this time I really prepared. I put the trekking poles away – knowing they were likely to be lost – and replaced them with sticks, and did up the roll top tight on my pack. I felt silly for worrying about the Spotted Bear ford. As the only option, I ventured out in the water. It was above the waist and fast. I couldn’t really stand – I had just enough weight and friction to half hold my position in the water column. I was slowly sliding along the river bottom. Losing 3 feet downstream to every foot I made it progress. Thankfully the first 1/3 was the deepest, so I just kept sliding/slipping/moon-walking forward while waving my arms to stay upright. Half way across, I knew I had made it and now realized that what I thought was the upper limit of fording rivers at the Spotted Bear was actually wrong, and the true limit is actually higher – likely here at Gordon Creek, but who knows. That’s the great thing about the BMWO. I never would have thought you could ford a creek like Gordon. Looking at the gauge info, the SF Flathead was ripping at 10500 CFS at the time. Kinda funny how the hardest obstacle on the trip was one I didn’t even worry about before hand.
I did a few more miles up to Young’s Creek as the evening fell. Thinking about my off-trail plan to get over Sunday mountain from the headwaters of Babcock, the words of John rang in my mind. He said it “looked brushy” when he peered into the valley a week early. These words, combined my previously confessed error of thinking this was a good “black” trail, when it was actually a red/black “secondary” one that just degrades to end entirely about 8 miles from the pass, got me quite nervous. I realized the going would be tough, but the bail opportunities were grim because years ago I cut off the lower portion my map which contained any exit routes to the south, so if I headed up Young’s I’d be navigating blind. Turning around meant fording Gordon again, and then big miles over Holland. I wondered if I’d finally got too ambitious with the route. Funny how something that seems clever when sitting behind a keyboard, seems much more scary alone in the woods at dusk.
John’s words that it “looked brushy” rang in my mind all evening, and the trail did indeed degrade. It went into a burn zone with tons of logs down. The rate at which it was degrading had my worried. At 9:30, I had 26 miles left and was tired of log hopping with darkness falling, I pulled over for a sleep. I got 6 hours of sleep (and 2 ticks) from my 2nd night without a shelter.
Day 3 – ~25 Miles – Babcock Creek to Lake Inez
I awoke at 4:30 and headed off, jumping more logs. Thankfully the burn zone ended after a few miles and the sun came out, and I got a bit more optimistic that my foray up Babcock Ck would turn out alright.
As expected, the trail eventually petered out. And when it did, it was right into a massive section of windfall. It was wild. Probably 1/2 mile where all the trees where down. I crawled, jumped, teetered and crashed for probably an hour. This is also where I lost my camera, as some branch presumably yanked it out of my velcro shut pocket via the wrist strap. I knew it was gone, as there was no way I could re-trace my route though that mess. Thankfully it was an older camera and I’d already purchased it’s replacement.
Soon after the windfall mess, I started gaining vertical up the north wall of Babcock to avoid cliffs at the valley head. I climbed from 6000′ to 7000′ and the forest opened. It was sunny, gorgeous, good travel and I was so relieved that I wasn’t going to spend the rest of my days swimming through trees in Babcock with about 300 calories in the food bag. I tossed the skis on at 7000′. So good. I cruised through the sparse sub-alpine, loving it. I dipped through a bunch of bowls, eyed my pass just south of Sunday mountain and hoped it was snowy on the back. I can ski a 40-50 degree slope, but I didn’t want to scramble down one.
At this point I looked back down Babcock valley and Young’s. Incredible. You can see maybe 20 miles to the South Fork and it’s wild to think I’d walked all that. I wish I had a picture to share. I crested the ridge – the pressure off – and found continuous snow down the ridge. I cranked it out in no time on the skis with just a 10 mile walk between me and the finish. It was 1pm.
Well Starbucks is closing, so I gotta go. The last 10 miles sucked. My blister count went from 2 to 8, but I made it. Today I’m sore. I didn’t touch on the knee thing too much on the last day, but I went through the last of the Aleve supply to walk normally that day.May 31, 2017 at 9:35 am #3470665John NBPL Member
I’ll put up a more comprehensive trip report later but a small summary: after Thad crossed the S Fork on a downed cottonwood, much to our urging not to, Mike and I headed for the packbridge at Big Prairie. We opted not to try and ford Gordon Creek and headed up a hot deadfall covered trail to hit Shaw cabin by about 8 pm Monday evening. We were up and over Gordon Pass and down to Owl Creek by about 1 pm Tuesday. Approximately 6 miles or so of road slogging with the prospect of 12 more along the highway had us bailing to Kevin’s cabin on Cygnet Lake, where a neighbor gave us a lift to Mike’s truck at Lake Inez. Here is a pic of the wildman of the Bob doing shit I wouldn’t consider:May 31, 2017 at 9:46 am #3470667
I’ll also add some details and pics later, but have to say that the Open is always brutally harsh, always very humbling, but oh so awe inspiring- like a siren calling out, you cannot resist- this year was no exceptionMay 31, 2017 at 3:07 pm #3470711Seth CunninghamBPL Member
AGHHHHHH. Super bummed I couldn’t make it this year. Eating up the trip reports, keep them coming. Sounds like excellent adventures were had all round. Next year…..May 31, 2017 at 4:30 pm #3470732John NBPL Member
Oh yeah, I found a L/XL SmartWool arm or calf sleeve (can’t tell which). Let me know if this is yours and I’ll send it your way.May 31, 2017 at 4:57 pm #3470738Dan DurstonBPL Member
@dandydanLocale: Canadian Rockies
Kyle: Hats off to your awesome route. Sounds like such a fun route, and if you didn’t have the detour to KL ranch you likely would have arrived around when I did.
I figured you were taking the Hwy shoulder south from Holland, so I was watching for ya as we drove north at 7pm after a nice swim in Lake Inez.
Indeed the mosquitoes were bad at lower elevations. I ran into a lot, then rain came and chased them off for my last hour. It was gloriously refreshing. I’m looking forward to checking out your pics and trip report.May 31, 2017 at 5:11 pm #3470741Tyler HBPL Member
Well, we made it. Jon, Justin and I had an amazing, challenging hike. Our route was about 110 miles and 11,000 ft of gain. We finished on Tuesday at about 9:45, ~85 hrs 45 mins. Suffice to say that this will not soon be forgotten by any of us. We felt so lucky to have the support of this group before, during and after. I’ll post some pictures as we get them sorted out, but here is the gist of it.
Day 1: West Fork Cabin to Rock Creek GS
Headed out of camp at a pretty good clip, super psyched to be out. Lost Dan pretty quick after heading up Olney creek. Marched up the pass with a big gang; us three, Chase and Derek, Kyle and Matt. We parted ways with Kyle when he split off to boat and pretty much hiked as a group all the way to Gates Park. We relaxed for 20 mins and everybody else took off toward Gibson. We had realized crossing the pass was unrealistic so were shooting for Rock Cr. GS or higher. Made it to the cabin around 9:00, tired from the day but feeling good and in high spirits. Cowboy camped under faint, dancing northern lights.
Day 2: Rock Creek GS to Big Prairie
We left Rock Cr. at 7:00 for our climb over Larch Hill Pass. Good beta from Dan on Friday night helped us take a clean route past Spotted Bear Pass, around the lake and up Larch Hill. Highlight of our hike; staring straight down the Chinese Wall, bluebird skies, firm snow. A few hundreds yards of post-holing but mostly cruiser. Fun, quick hike down the other side to Juliet Creek. Here we started to see Dan’s footprints, and followed them down to the White River.
Crossed the White and dried out for lunch on the other side. Crossed again. Here our plan was to find a ‘trail’ on the south/east side of the White River to avoid more crossings. The River was really flowing by then, around Brushy Park. We proceeded down through brutal bush-whacking and side-hilling for 4(?) miles, finally getting to the trail again where it crosses just above Cliff Creek. By this point we were feeling pretty destroyed and were well behind our schedule, but the hiking along the White was beautiful. The river was charging through the canyon. The SF White was our first difficult creek crossing, but we managed fine. We slogged down to the bottom of the and had dinner along the banks at 9:30, totally wrecked.
We were motivated to do some night hiking and try to make it to Big Prairie. Hiking at night is at least 1.5X spookier than day hiking in bear country, but we were having a good time. Hollering and singing our way down the trail we woke up Matt who was camped in a beautiful park, not really sure exactly where we were. Eventually made it to a bench just north of Big Prairie at 2 am, complete zombies.
Day 3: Big Prairie to Jenny Creek
Hiking for 21 hours makes you tired… so we didn’t get on the trail on Monday until 9:00 am. Amazing 80 F weather in Big Prairie. Felt OK, expecting ‘easy’ trail miles up the Pyramid Pass. Wrong again. We got to Gordon Creek just in time to see Matt on the other side. A good thing we did too, otherwise we might have second-guessed the crossing for longer. Still, we scouted a bit upstream and found a slightly shallower option. Justin was the unfortunate guinea pig and swam it. Jon found the bottom and we both stayed upright. Some time after, heading up Youngs, we ran into Matt, and then Thad. Matt was hurting but was slogging on. Thad is an insane wilderness animal and was in great spirits. We took a break after meeting them, caught back up to Thad at Babcock. Matt had already headead up Youngs. At Babcock we again opted to do some bush-whacking to avoid crossing Youngs. We were able to skip two crossings below Babcock. Crossing Babcock was pretty intense. We trained up and punched across, all managing to stay on our feet. After that we were able, with Thad’s inspiration, to find logs to cross the rest of the way up Youngs. We got to the final crossing at the junction with the Jenny Creek trail around dark and decided to camp there, around 9:30 pm.
Day 4: Jenny Creek to Lake Inez
On the trail at 8:00 am, Justin and I were nursing under-trained and over-used ankles, but Jon was still skipping along. We motored up to the pass, Jon blasted us up and over. Snow was mostly first and fine, but any later in the day would have been rough. Beautiful views of the Missions from Pyramid Pass. Were relieved to make it to the trailhead around 2, and that nobody was around to tempt us with a ride. We headed down the road, and just at the junction with Morrell falls road we see Thad! He was beaming, hustling down the trail like he’d just been out for an afternoon mosey to the falls. Enticed by beer and local knowledge or the roads, we followed Thad to their beer cache. Just so happened that Mike and Jon were there to check on said beer, and caught us on the side of the roading enjoying it. We chatted until about 7 pm until we reluctantly set off the finish the damned thing. Thad was a patient leader, and we followed him down a crafty network of fire lines and road cuts, ending on an old, moss-covered forest road, with light draining behind the Missions. We might still be on those roads without Thad! Very literally stumbled into Lake Inez campground around 9:45.May 31, 2017 at 7:31 pm #3470765Scott GBPL Member
Man! Can’t wait to see some more pics and hear everyones reports. Congrats to everyone that finished. Just starting this adventure is a huge commitment. I’m impressed with some of the bushwacking i see and never would have thought of. And the fact that no one took the same route makes it even more impressive. Awesome!
I know why Dave C. puts this on in May, Because it makes for a substantial fudge factor and makes it extremely challenging in so many ways. I’ll get my game up for next year no backing out.May 31, 2017 at 7:47 pm #3470769
John, Thad and myself finally headed out with the rest of the crew Saturday morning after months of route planning, gear gathering and training. Kevin who was supposed to go, fell to a recent injury (he unfortunately missed 2016 as well due to knee surgery and so it was three.
Dan D replete with skis
Our route was to head up the Teton, up Olney Ck and over the pass to Nesbitt Ck.
about 2 miles from the pass we started post holing a bit and transitioned to snowshoes
the trail was buried, so we headed straight up to the pass
we made the pass in decent time- looking back down Olney Ck and peeking into Nesbitt Ck
we stayed on snowshoes for another 4-ish miles, before it cleaned up enough
near Route Ck
as usual a good amount of griz sign throughout
plenty of fords too :)
we made pretty good time to the North Fork of the Sun
of course things that slow you down as well
it was late evening when we looked at the ford for the North Fork and it was a no go and would add 3-ish miles taking the stock bridge near Gibson; we hiked until dark and called it good- 30-ish miles for the day
we were up early and made it to the South Fork of the Sun in pretty good time; we passed Derek and Chase who had a fantastic camp up high with a great vantage point (they would later catch us at the junction near the West Fort stock bridge)
when we reached the South Fork again we were greeted what appeared to be the aftermath of a microburst
and it was hot! we finally waded through the worst of it and made Benchmark around 10-ish, we continued on and stopped for some lunch near the junction of Hoadley Ck which we would be heading up to get over Stadler Pass
it wasn’t long before we transitioned into snow and not much longer donned snowshoes
this is the third year I’ve carried the little Shifts- a great spring time shoe
we made the pass and headed down a bit to eat some supper
we made great time down Stadler until dark and just a mile or two shy of Basin Ck cabin we hit jackpot after jackpot of blowdown (along w/ a couple of deeper than anticipated fords)- definitely worse in a headlamp
we made camp near the cabin about 11 PM- another 30-ish mile push
up and at em early heading for the Young’s Ck ford
the ever beautiful Danaher
we arrived at the ford and could quickly tell it was a no go; our gamble with this route didn’t pan out and we headed for Big Prairie- a big detour upon our plans for Babcock Ck
we probably went a mile and we spied a very large Cottonwood that was recently downed and spanned a little over half of the South Fork and rested near a gravel bar; we looked it over carefully, but with two big strainers just below the cottonwood it was too much of a risk- a slip and you were pretty much toast
much to our surprise, Thad said he was going for it!
he made it to the gravel, a short, but deep ford and he was across the South Fork- amazing!
John and I though about it for about 1 second and continued on to Big Prairie :)
we ate lunch and headed back upstream for Young’s Ck, much to our surprise, Gordon Ck had grew into a river and after some quick calculations we figured that Holland Lake might not be a bad way to go
unfortunately Gordon Ck was loaded with blowdown, our pace was really slowed
eventually it relented a little and we continued our climb up Gordon
John was ahead of me most of the time and one time I came around a bend he was stopped with bear spray at the ready- that gets your attention! Turns out it was black bear that didn’t appear to have any will ill and after a little encouraging headed up the side hill. Plenty of Mr Griz sign on Gordon Ck, so being cautious is wise
we made to Shaw Ck cabin a little after 8 and decided to call it a day, ~ 27 miles
we woke early and headed for the pass
we made good time to the pass and the snow was firm enough we didn’t need snowshoes, once we got to the pass the trail was completely erased, John got on a set of grizzly tracks and he led us along the trail- almost uncanny with 6′ of snow on the ground!
we found this cabin- it’s open to the public if a trail crew isn’t using it- possibly good intel down the line
Upper Holland Lake
we made good time down to Holland Lake (the reverse of the start of the 15 Open)
when we arrived at Owl Ck it was 80 degrees or more; we ate lunch, drank a lot of water and after looking at the map more carefully, what we thought was 9 miles to Lake Inez was closer to 17
we walked the four miles of gravel road out to the highway, eating dust with every passing vehicle- did I mention it was 80 degrees?
we soon discovered that the highway had a very thin shoulder and no real way to walk in the borrow pit, after a couple of close calls with big trucks, we reevaluated our plan- we were close to the Linberg Lake turnoff where Kevin has a summer cabin; John checked the mileage it was about 4 miles- we said f’ it and headed for the cabin. Sadly Kevin had already headed back to Helena, but luckily his neighbor offered us a much appreciated ride to Inez. We ended up with about 25-ish miles for the day- 10 of those miles really (really) sucked! About 115 miles total for the trip.
In a twist of fate, we decided to head up a FS road after finding Thad’s vehicle still there. John and Thad has stashed some beers in a creek, as we were about to turn a corner, John said wouldn’t be funny to find Thad drinking a beer. Funny indeed as it was Thad AND the Missoula gang sitting and drinking beer! We swapped stories and left them to finish. John and I headed for Trixies for a Trixie burger, fries and a local IPA- all is right with the world.May 31, 2017 at 8:00 pm #3470771Sam HaraldsonBPL Member
@sharaldsLocale: Gallatin Range
YES! Really enjoying these TRs. Congratulations, all.May 31, 2017 at 8:52 pm #3470781John KlinepeterBPL Member
@johnzotkLocale: Northern Rockies, USA
The trip reports and photos are delicious. The more the better!
It was interesting to watch the progress of the groups and individuals. Several times while watching Dan D’s InReach tracks I wondered where he was headed, seemingly boxed in on three sides. In each case his solution was simply to charge straight ahead and go up and over!
I remember seeing Gordon Creek two years ago. It is astounding that anyone could cross it without swimming.
I have been searching for a new set of heroes. They are to be found in the Bob Marshall Wilderness the end of each May. My hat is off to all of you.
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August 4 @ 5:30 PM US MDT: Member Q&A • Backcountry Photography & Cameras
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