May 24, 2018 at 8:14 pm #3538119
Yeah, at present I’m still planning on rafting the SF Flathead. I’m currently planning to start on the Danaher, and then assess how much risk I want to take on. I’m expecting eddies around the bends, but that leaves longer stretches with unknown protection.
Send me a PM if you have some more thoughts, or we can talk on Friday evening.May 24, 2018 at 11:39 pm #3538182
Here’s my tracking link: https://share.garmin.com/kylepucko. To bring a packrat or not to bring a packraft: that seems to be the question. See everyone tomorrow to talk more.May 25, 2018 at 1:42 am #3538198
the annual assembling of the butthole sandwiches :)May 25, 2018 at 4:26 am #3538231Tyler HBPL Member
Very appetizing description Mike!
Jon and I are psyched to see everybody and get out there. Here is our tracking link: https://share.garmin.com/TylerHMay 25, 2018 at 9:43 pm #3538410
Amy and I will be at Trixi’s at 5:45p. Looking forward to seeing everybody!May 27, 2018 at 12:43 pm #3538670Kevin BBPL Member
@newmexikevLocale: Western New Mexico, USA
At the end of day 1 here’s a summary of their progress:
Adrian S. is ahead of others with trackers and has made it down the Danaher and floated (i think) all the way to the Big Salmon Creek on the SF of Flathead. Garmin logs 45 miles for the day.
Kyle P. also walked out the Danaher and stopped at Youngs Creek at SF of Flathead. 28.4 miles
Further behind and on foot I believe, John, Mike, and Scott made it to Basin Creek guard station. 27 miles in. Tyler was there too but seemed to put some time going up Sadler creek before bed.
Dan D. is the only route tracking northeast (toward Benchmark) from the beginning following the Blackfoot and Straight Creek toward the SF of Sun. He made it within a few miles of the confluence with the NF of Sun before bed. 34 miles tracked.May 28, 2018 at 4:26 pm #3538895
Dan once again raises questions: Is he fully human? Cyborg? Bionic? As the Bob Open’s sole unofficial officiant, I think Dave should investigate. But seriously, the guy is an animal. He appears to be past a portage(?) around Schafer station and is probably enjoying some payoff paddling as I write. He appears handily on track to be at the obelisk today.
Adrian has similarly been putting up big mileage days, and looks to be resting his legs a bit currently on the Spotted Bear & South Fork of the Flathead before breaking down his boat and making the long tack northeast to the finish.
Mike, John & Andrew have so far resisted the urge to bail at either Benchmark or Gibson turnoffs. Kevin reported out after departing as planned at Benchmark. Unsurprisingly, sounds like big water everywhere with the Danaher bridge floating, apparently off its foundation, near the Basin cabin. They haven’t been putting up their planned 27 miles per day, so the question will be whether they hit their stride today during the smooth cruising up the North Fork Sun or if the tissue damage/fatigue of day three overwhelms their intentions.
Tyler seems to be in the same vicinity and still moving north.
I can’t tell if Scott is still moving, or if the intoxicating lure of Benchmark road understandably overwhelmed his plans for a 5-6 day finish.
Kyle looks to be wisely savoring his exit out the west side down to Holland Lake.
Nice work everyone. I can’t wait for the trip reports. This has been interesting to watch, even if I’d much rather be out there.May 28, 2018 at 8:58 pm #3538937Dan MBPL Member
Thad , I think you hit the nail on the head. Dan is an animal from the north. have also been watching the group from mich/colorado- they had a dog and young daughter along . they seem to have stalled out about 15 mi. in. I saw 3 red flags went up on their track last night , not sure what that meant– texted them at mid night and they said all was fine. this morning they appear to be wandering back and forth , wondering if they lost the dog ? been a great watch , wish I was out there as well — will be next year .May 28, 2018 at 10:31 pm #3538948Will BBPL Member
Got out at Maria’s an hour ago- will post a full trip report when I’m home as I’m hitching in this guy’s car right now and just got service. I had an incredible trip, I’m so happy with how it turned out despite a couple of boneheaded mistakes which could have gotten me into trouble if things hadn’t gone my way. SF Flathead was pumping, there’s no chance I would have made this time unless I’d been able to float nearly 55 miles at an average of 10+ mph.
Looks like Dan will be out shortly as well. I wonder what happened to Adrian, I’m surprised to hear he was only at spotted bear on SF Flathead this morning at 10 since we split up at Black Bear creek on SF Flathead yesterday morning at 945. I portage up to cedar flats and put back in, and he was planning on hiking east. Maybe he ran into an impassable creek crossing and had to come back down to SF flathead last night or something.May 29, 2018 at 2:13 am #3538987
Will, great work. I got a look at the South Fork and was torn on whether I made the right decision not to bring a raft. Looked really fast, but also a highway of water. Only saw pieces of the first seven river miles though. Sounds like you made awesome time. Can’t wait for your trip report and pictures.
I bailed on a choose your own adventure route camping night one in the upper reaches of the South Fork, one of my favorite places on the planet. I bailed for no particular reason other than lot of different priorities this spring that bumped the Bob Open physical and mental preparation down a couple notches.
I crossed the South Fork at Big Prairie and headed back toward Gordon Creek (which I can only imagine trying to ford that this year). Spent the night at Shaw Creek Cabin and made it to Owl Creek TH at noon-thirty with Chrissy waiting with a Coke (burritos are for finishers only). Never been up Dry Creek or Down Danaher or up Gordon. Got to put some new ink on the Bob map which I always love doing.
I’ll post some pictures and notes at a later date. I hope to back in wilderness-ready form soon. Spending some long and full days in there is always time well spent. First 30+ day on foot only which was cool. Lots of credit to the Bob Open Foot Soldiers.
Thad, looking forward to your update tonight as the “unofficial officiant.” Looks like Dan finished. His route has to be the early favorite for most creative.May 29, 2018 at 4:18 am #3538999
Awesome effort Will! I guess I’ll have to add you to the list of suspects to forward along to Dave for investigation of potential robotic enhancement. I certainly didn’t mean to give you short shrift, just working with limited intel. Can’t wait to hear more details, although you’ve earned some food and rest first. Dan is also out now. Possibly the only two so far? Congrats to you both, and anyone else who manages to push that much country in three days.
Kyle, for the record Dave is (forevermore!) the only unofficial officiant of the Open. I would never deign to usurp his exalted status, as he deserves full credit for dreaming this thing up and keeping it rolling. I would have granted “official” status but I presumed he didn’t want that foisted upon him for the usual reasons. Look forward to seeing some pictures as I agree with your assessment of the quality of the upper SF drainage.
I should have checked the messages this morning because Adrian must have realized that the scenery around Hungry Horse was every bit as pretty as parts west. He posted he was heading out last night. I hope he’s solidly back into “having fun” status now.
It’s hard to tell if Tyler will keep rolling north. As of last check it appears he’s posted up near the trail junction back to Gibson, which could be a dangerous place to find yourself on the morning of the fourth day with that many miles still ahead. I’ve heard the water falling out of the dam creates a bio-magnetic field which sometimes pulls people off route from miles away. Regardless, he’s out there hopefully enjoying himself rather than sitting behind a keyboard with a cold/flu/cracked rib combo, so that counts as winning in my book.
No change apparent for Scott, but it’s possible his battery died.
Apparently Mike, John, and Andrew decided after grinding out day three that the mountains to the west look too pretty not to examine more closely. Unless they take a long look at themselves in the bottom of their cooking pots tomorrow morning and change their minds, it sounds like they plan to declare an early victory at the Middle Fork TH. We may need to take a salvage trip into the badger/two med in a few weeks when I’m feeling better to check it out, since that was the only part of the planned route that none of us had been in.
My apologies to anyone I neglected to mention, but I try to ground my fake news with at least a flimsy glimmer of fact. Stay safe out there everyone, and congratulations again to the finishers, wherever that finish line might have been!May 29, 2018 at 4:26 am #3539000
Thad, I misread, I thought you proclaimed yourself as the unofficial officiant. I agree that the title belongs to Dave. You are perhaps the Bob Open unofficial beat reporter.
Great write up.May 29, 2018 at 4:30 am #3539001
Dan M, forgot to mention, if the Mich/CO crew need a hand I’m not too far away and could pull out of work if need be. Hopefully things are okay.May 29, 2018 at 4:33 am #3539002
No worries Kyle! I do think, however, that you earned yourself a burrito!May 29, 2018 at 7:15 am #3539010Dan MBPL Member
thanks Thad, they answered , everyone is fine , it seems their trip has turned into a leisurely camping affair . They haven’t said, but I’m guessing they are headed for benchmark – at their current rate it may take several more days . At least they are all safe.
Kudos to Will ! Job well done , I give all you guys that run this thing solo a lot of credit. From where I sit thats quite an accomplishment ! The trip reports this year should be quite entertaining.May 29, 2018 at 1:18 pm #3539028David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
There is a lot of water out there. My photos of the carnage Danaher Creek is doing to the trail is spots does not do it justice. Around Rapid Creek it jumped the channel and is 300+ yards over on the other side of the valley, flowing down the trail, 3+ feet deep in places. It’s been a while since I’ve seen conditions in the Bob which took me that far by surprise.
Danaher generally was massive, moreso than expected, and as I thought likely I got to the normal put in at the beginning of The Basin Saturday afternoon and spent a good chunk sitting under a tree considering things. Kyle, and later John and Tyler, came by and helped me along with some good conversation. We all walked to the Basin Cabin for dinner, and I waited the obligatory 12 hours before deciding to exit early. Mike, Kevin, John, Andrew, and Scott arrived within 10 minutes of John and Tyler leaving, and camped with me overnight. We all enjoyed good conditions hiking over Stadler the next morning, and I caught a ride home with Kevin.
My feet and legs weren’t up to the usual standard, and the water was too big for my comfort.May 29, 2018 at 2:38 pm #3539041
I made it out at 7:20pm yesterday (May 28). A trip report and hopefully a short video will be out in due time.
A few quick notes:
– on day one I made good time over Scapegoat with a surprisingly high snow line around 6500′. Great pass. Quite cliffed out on the backside but there was a line.
– On the back side Straight Creek looked nuts and was all over the valley – often flooding the trail knee deep. I wasn’t going to float it, but as I got further downstream it collected itself into a single channel and I got awfully excited about it, so I put it at the intended spot (SF Sun gauge was ~4300). It was wild. Not that efficient because I had to scout a bunch of fast corners (and there were some deadly sweepers) but I made it to benchmark for 9pm. I portaged the first couple miles of the SF Sun and then put in for the rest of the SF Sun in the morning.
– On Day 2 I pushed up the NF Sun. The creek crossings were treacherous. I took a dicey swim try to ford Moose Creek. Then had to packraft across Rock Creek, Lick Ck and NF Sun. North of Gates Park I was slowed by a lot of fire burn deadfall, so I couldn’t packraft the MF Flathead that day. I just barely made it across Strawberry Creek (packrafted,massive, no chance of fording) at dark.
– On Day 3 I floated the MF Flathead to Granite Creek. The first part to Schafer was nice. Not nearly as scary as Straight Ck and SF Sun. I portaged the rowdiest two miles of three forks, then put in for another 6 miles. Those miles were burlier. I took a swim when I tried to ferry across the river in front of a big hole to get to a better line on the other side of it. I was most of the way across when a strong side current said no, and I couldn’t make it any further. I hit the hole, flipped but was able to hang on to the paddle, grab the boat and re-enter relatively quickly.
– I got to Granite Ck for noon yesterday, lots of deadfall on that trail slowed me down. Burly ford of Granite Ck. Then I did 2.5 mph on the roadwalk to go easy on the blisters. Finished at 7:20pm
– Will put in a beauty of a effort. Nice alpine route to get to the MF Flathead and he somehow had the motivation to go over Elkcalf mtn to the end. We hung out and reminisced for a couple hours yesterday. I suspected no one else was going to finish, so I was super impressed that he made it through and did so, so quickly.May 29, 2018 at 2:39 pm #3539043Will BBPL Member
No apology needed Thad I knew you were just talking about the folks with garmins!
I appreciate the kudos but there’s no way I belong in that elite probably-cyborg class with Dan. We finished very close together and he did a much, much harder and more complicated route with many fewer river miles to push him along. I’ll wait for the trip reports to go in depth but I got incredibly lucky in a few places which covered up for serious errors. I let a creek take my map a couple of miles before the SF Flathead put-in and if I hadn’t run into Adrian at the put-in and he hadn’t been willing to lead us to the beginning of the north map I probably would have been back at the NF trailhead on Sunday. Plus after talking to Dan last night and looking at the map this morning I think I may have been in an entirely different drainage than the one I thought I was in for almost 15 miles two nights ago; if it’s the case that’s the kind of error that should seriously hurt a trip but it didn’t have big consequences for me. By comparison Dan seems to power through the challenges he meets with a combination of confidence and skill. Although sometimes the challenges may also be a product of his confidence :)
Full TR w/ pictures coming soonMay 29, 2018 at 3:17 pm #3539050Scott GBPL Member
Well, I had a great trip through the Dry Fork and the Danaher. I’d catch up to Mike, John, Andrew and Kevins?, crew every 4-5 miles or so and then take a break again. Seemed like I caught them at the perfect spots to. I avoided doing most of the blown out creeks and fords solo, which was nice. Around 20 miles in my right calf started to cramp, and the anterior ankle tendon that put me out 2 years ago started to show irritation. It wasn’t too bad so I pushed on to Basin and iced it in the river. (lesson learned for next year.) Camped at Basin with them and Dave and woke up feeling decent. I attempted to keep up with those guys over the never ending Stadler Pass in the morning. I totally Bonked about half way up, i can only assume due to lack of calories. I fell about a mile back i bet, but was able to follow their tracks over the pass and down the probably 5 miles of snow pack, which was nice because my GAIA maps did not load apparently before the race and i was left with a paper map, compass and my Garmins Map which i didn’t care for to navigate with. The snow pack, did a number on the ankle and a nagging knee issue that appears at the worst times. By the time i met back up the those guys at the SF Sun pack bridge my body was rejecting every step. For me that was a brutal 17 ish mile day. I had basically called it at that point and bailed to the campground for the night and enjoyed a Bud in the parking lot with Dave and Kevin.
I slept in and enjoyed a relaxing breakfast when Andrew (Missoula?) walked up to camp wrapped in his sleeping bag. Sounds like he got rejected by camp creek pass, rerouted to stadler, slept on stadler pass, and got blocked by another river crossing somewhere on the west fork sun river trail Sunday and bailed late Sunday night.
I really didn’t want to Bail after 2 days so Monday morning I made an attempt to hobble a few miles up the Sun Riiver trail towards the west fork s. fork sun packbridge to no avail. At the pace i was going it would have been painful and futile so I turned tail and headed back to the Campground to await my ride.
Every step of this trip was virgin trail for me and the Danaher Valley was as amazing as i had dreamed. Very cool!! The Dry fork was quite nice as well.
Although I was in better shape than every and my ankle never got as bad as it did 2 years ago, as i write this it is wrapped in ice and it was a wise choice to bail where i did. I need to re evaluate my strategy. For me, I think my body just can’t handle the big days and I need to look hard at 20 mile limits and save the big push day for the last day of the trip rather than the first. I think it will get me farther in the end.
Best equipment: Trekking poles and Aquamira drops.
Leave at home next time: Gore Tex waterproof Salomons , maybe my mid layer fleece if weather was similar.
Can’t wait till next year. Super impressed with Dan and Will!!! Holy crapMay 29, 2018 at 11:07 pm #3539141
I’ll have a trip report when I’m back at a computer. Long story short, I hit a lot of deadfall over Sergent/Corporal trails and wasn’t keen on continuing. Bailed to just below the Reservoir by floating the Spotted Bear and SF.May 30, 2018 at 3:40 am #3539197John NBPL Member
We’re back. We decided to bail from Wrong Creek over Washboard Reef to West Fork Teton. Definitely some sketchy creek crossings, good to hear our intuition about fording Strawberry sounded about correct according to Dan. Great time all in all, just a nice walk in some pretty country. Congrats to all participants this year-was getting pretty western out there. Full TR and pics soon.May 30, 2018 at 2:42 pm #3539234
John: Wow you guys made it far. I didn’t think anyone else was going to get past Moose Creek. I look forward to hearing how you navigated Moose and Rock Creeks.May 30, 2018 at 4:40 pm #3539257
Congrats to the two finishers and everyone who dared brave the Open this year with it’s record snowpack and record flows!
Dan we went up the east side, BUT we had numerous treacherous crossings as well. We also hit a ton of deadfall above Gates Park, even though we were on opposite sides of the river.
We had hoped for a big day on day three. We wanted to be close to knocking on the door of our big ford across Strawberry Ck (I much prefer to call it the upper Middle Fork, it’s not a “creek”!) to assess it and if a no go, still have time to backtrack out to the West Fork of the Teton. The blowdown and creek crossings (one crossing- Route Ck- ate up an hour of time!) foiled that plan and by the time we made it to Wrong Ck we knew that was pretty much the end. I’m glad to hear Strawberry looked unfordable, that leaves us feeling we made the right choice.
MikeMay 30, 2018 at 6:40 pm #3539276
Mike: Impressive work. Your crew made it far. Did you cross to the east side of the NF Sun at the bridge? Or swim it sooner? I assume you crossed at the bridge, if so, how did you handle Moose Creek? Find a great log?
Strawberry was definitely not a ford but it did look swimmable, in the sense that there were no immediate hazards or substantial rapids.May 30, 2018 at 6:57 pm #3539279
Dan- we never made it on the west side of the N Fork; we crossed the Sun using the bridge by Gibson and then stayed on the east side all the way to Wrong Ck- plan was to continue to the Sun River Pass and then down Bowl Ck to Strawberry
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