May 30, 2018 at 8:24 pm #3539288
Ahh that makes sense. I forgot about the bridge near the KL Ranch.May 31, 2018 at 1:12 pm #3539402David ChenaultBPL Member
@davecLocale: Queen City, MT
This year was for me the most social ever, as almost everyone was together for the first ~30 miles, and I was slow. Indeed, I had never camped with anyone else on an Open before. It was exceedingly nice to talk to everyone, and like past years it remains a pleasure to see everyone making good decisions and staying out of trouble (for the most part).May 31, 2018 at 1:33 pm #3539403
^ indeed :)
Dan M- any word on the MI/CO crew? I hope everything worked out for themMay 31, 2018 at 1:45 pm #3539404Dan MBPL Member
mike m- hard to believe but they are still out there–between benchmark and gibson , i believe they were over 4 days to benchmark alone- they are still moving north this morning . Ive sent them messages expressing concern for their safety , telling them about conditions north of them—just hoping they use sound judgement at this point, I question their experience and skills for those water crossings–will keep you posted- danMay 31, 2018 at 3:15 pm #3539413
Perhaps they are just using their 7 days of food towards a revised goal of Gibsons?
At least the water levels are declining, although still very high:May 31, 2018 at 3:32 pm #3539420
I sure hope that’s their plan, it got even sketchier ford wise on the North Fork of the SunMay 31, 2018 at 5:45 pm #3539432John NBPL Member
Trip report here: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/bob-open-2018-2/May 31, 2018 at 9:56 pm #3539485
Well, I certainly had fun out there this year, but it was accented by a brief period of unfun that brought it all down. Here’s the (LONG) trip report.
I was pretty nervous for the conditions going into the Bob this year, but after talking out some of my concerns with Dave, Dan, Will, and other participants, I felt less concerned and ready to get after it. I slept well the night before, 7 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
As is usually the case with these kind of things (running races, ski races, etc.) I was at the start with 30 seconds to spare, and set off without a goodbye to Amy (sorry)! But Dave, Dan, Will and I were cruising along well towards the North Fork guard station. Dave dropped back a bit, but then reappeared ahead of us after taking the townie shortcut on the stock trail. At the guard station, everyone split up, Will stopped to get water, Dan went straight north, and I was itching to hammer out the Dry Fork Trail.
Well, the trail was good, as it stays a little higher than the river drainage. This was definitely a good thing, as the dry fork had taken over the entire valley in parts (see photo). I was feeling good as I continued on over the divide and down the Danaher. Early on, I was taking a couple off-trail cuts to avoid the water, but as the trail dropped further down, it was clear that this was not going to work any more. One stretch (before the pack bridge, off its foundation) was nearly 100m of knee-deep standing water. In this video, you can see the stretch of trail where the Danaher had jumped its banks. The Ayers or Rapid Creek (I can’t remember which) was probably the most difficult I encountered, though it was well within the comfort range. The constant wolf and grizzly tracks in the mud were on the edge of my comfort range.
I slowed down after around noon, as I had forgotten to eat, so I scarfed a ProBar and some beef jerky and started to feel better as I was nearing Camp Creek where I would put in with the raft. Luckily, the Danaher is a lot flatter here, so the water was a lot less white than it appeared on the upper stretches. Will caught up with me as I finished taking some alone time in the woods, so we decided to raft together.
It was nice to float with Will, as we kept each other honest and focused. We were both expecting danger from fast water moving through strainers, but the wood on the Danaher was less scary than I anticipated. We only had to portage once (maybe twice?). It seems that a lot of wood got flushed, or the banks were so wide that it was easy to float around the hazards. The risk wasn’t too high at this point either because the water wasn’t incredibly pushy (still pushy) and it was easy to catch a willow bush in the flooded banks if necessary.
Hitting the confluence with Young’s and the origin of the SF was wonderful. The moon was rising and the wide valley was beautiful. A couple woody spots were easily avoided, and it was pretty easy floating from then on. We quickly learned to paddle the insides of tight blind turns, but it was still relatively easy to cross the river to avoid any obstacles around the more meandering bends. After passing Big Prairie and the tight turns there, we were able to experience fast, easy floating the rest of the night. Due to a miscommunication between Will (reading the map) and me (tracking mileage on my watch), instead of ending at White River Park, we ended up 6ish miles further just east of Big Salmon and south of Mud Lake. It was definitely hard to see over the last 3 miles, and I was fortunate to have Will spot us a great take out on the east bank near the trail (as we found after settling in). We arrived just after 10p, and I was very pleased to be able to float so late into the evening. I’m sure the late, cool, wet camp convinced Will to change his mind and share my tarp for the night.
We rose the next morning just after 6a, and I had my boat inflated again by 715. It was a cold start to paddling, and the first sharp turn had some big 3 foot waves (I took one to the face). I noted to Will that we were fortunate not to cross this section the previous evening. The 10 mile paddle to Bear Creek was straightforward, but pushy. We crossed the river to stay on the inside of almost all turns. We pulled off two turns before Bear Creek to contemplate if we should risk being unable to pull out before the constriction, but decided that it was better to avoid having to cross Bear Creek. Just as Dan and Dave said, there was a (HUGE) rock bar downstream of the confluence, and we were easily able to pull out and start drying our gear in the sun while packing up.
I wanted to get a jump on the walking for the day and headed up to the ridge east above the SF. Seeing the constriction from up top, and noting that there were few other challenges, I immediately regretted not running the river to the take out. It would have saved me quite a bit of time. Mid Creek crossing was easy, and I made good time up to the Sergeant Creek Tr, where things began to go awry.
Deadfall was constant, and after starting my way down Corporal Cr, the trail became more difficult to follow and deadfall became more challenging. A few mistakes came together at once, after losing the trail, I looked at my phone and thought I had a 800m to the exit. I needed water, so I went down to the creek thinking I would just bushwack the rest of the way. However, I had mistaken the wilderness boundary for my next trail, and instead had at least 2k to go. I then made the mistake of relying on the GAIA USFS maps for too long, trying to find the trail, sidehilling and jumping deadfall for probably an hour, breaking a trekking pole in the meantime. I was hot, my ankles were screaming, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I was going to break more than a trekking pole. When I finally looked at the Cairn map, I found that I was below the trail by >200′. I scrambled up the steep slope to the ridge and had a much easier time making it the remaining way. I slid off trail down to the Spotted Bear and contemplated my next move.
Other than being mentally broken, and 5 hours behind schedule, I was feeling good. I initially decided to keep going, likely to hit Whitcomb Mtn at 10p or later. However, when unpacking my things to float across the river, I discovered that my backpack frame needed repair. One or two of the frustrations at large would have been no big deal. Repairing my backpack with some tape would have worked fine. But all frustrations together with the thought of an easy (ha) float to the reservoir was too much to overcome at the time, so I pulled the plug. Camped on the banks of the Spotted Bear and told Amy where to meet me the following day.
I awoke with second thoughts of the river, as I couldn’t remember the beta. I figured all was well, as I only had 2 miles of a constriction before the braided section. I downed a double coffee and hopped in the raft as I waited for the caffeine to kick in.
Well, it turns out there wasn’t time for it to kick in. After rounding the second bend only 2 minutes in, I came face-to-face with a 3+ foot wave followed by a huge. I hesitated, and hit it with zero paddling speed, which flipped me on the unstable backwash downstream. I held on to everything, and found myself at the whim of the current as I travel between steep (undercut?) bedrock cliffs. Luckily, my practice from earlier in the spring had me back in my boat within 30s or so, no harm done. I didn’t even feel that wet. The remaining 2 miles of constricted water in the bedrock channel had me very concerned as the water was incredibly grabby, and the hydraulics from water bouncing between the walls would spin 180° in a moment. Once free, the rest of the spotted bear was a little less terrifying, though still just as pushy. I only picked a wrong channel once and was very happy to relax for a few moments in the reverse flow back up the SF at the confluence.
I’m not sure why, but I assumed that I could have a relative pool-toy float to the reservoir at this point. I was very wrong. The SF below spotted bear was just as fear-inducing as the narrow channel I swam in the morning. The wide river took a lot of energy and hard-paddling to cross between the inside of the turns. The alternative was to hit the huge 5′ waves at the edge of the bedrock walls. I got better at it after the first few turn, when realizing that I needed to begin paddling back across the current very early. When I finally arrived at the Upper Twin Creek Boat launch, I was very tired, and very happy to be away from the mercy of 20000 CFS.
Amy arrived not 10 minutes after I, and we drove back up the reservoir. We stopped to run up to the Firefighter Lookout and got some views of the Swan Range. Drank a quick $2.50 Bud Light at the bar in Martin City while watching the locals play horseshoes.
What’s the takeaway? I was not that well prepared for this trip. I forgot to check trail clearing reports, and probably would have encountered more issues up to Whitcomb (Trail creek – not for stock, Green MTN – not clear). Hardening the will to continue despite setbacks would have helped too. Packrafting is certainly a spectacular way to see the Bob, and I cant wait to come back. A July trip might be in order if I can find the time and stomach the drive. I definitely need to attempt the Open another year as I don’t want to end with a bail.
Setbacks and bail aside, I had a fantastic trip. Floating was challenging, but very fun. The walking went by quickly and easily. With the exception of my backpack (which needed a design change) and trekking pole, all my gear worked well worked well. 3000 calories is probably still a bit much (45/40/15 Fat/Carbs/Protein), though I’d probably shift a few more back to carbs for some quick energy throughout the day. I did miss having an insulating layer, but a rain jacket did the trick just find when I was cold before/after sleeping. The new shoes got pretty shredded in the deadfall though. Lost a lug to a sharp stick, and will need to aquaseal the edges to get more than 100 miles out of them, though there will probably be less dragging on the edges now that I’m back on cleared trails. Only one mroe small hole in my thin pants which shrugged off sharp sticks easily. Snowshoes remained unused.
Amy and I are still on the road, and I’m working remotely from Jackson, WY after we got our fix of both geothermal activity and congregating bipedal mega-fauna in Yellowstone. Seeing the rivers running through the park made me sad that I couldn’t blow up the Yak and catch the car again a few miles down the road.
I was glad to meet everyone again, and I’m glad that there were no bad incidents. Hopefully we’ll get to meet again next year. More photos here.Jun 1, 2018 at 1:55 am #3539529
Thanks for the write up Adrian. You did great. There’s so much to be prepared for that it’s hard to be up to speed on everything – like last year when I unknowingly took a trail that hadn’t been maintained in years and I never even found it for about 6 miles amongst all the deadfall – I hurt my knee jumping through all that. As frustrating as these situations are, they usually provide some lasting wisdom.
I remember Derek L. being unimpressed with the deadfall on the Corporal/Sargeant trail in 2015. I was through there that year too, but it was way after dark so I was in slow mode anyways and didn’t notice the wood as much. I did put a good rip in my rain pants jumping over that wood – and bashed a knee that hurt until the end.
Nice job getting back into the boat so quickly. That’s good you practiced it. Between you, me and Will, we tallied 4 swims this year. Maybe a BMWO record?Jun 1, 2018 at 1:59 am #3539530Dan MBPL Member
Thad- or anyone else in benchmark area-
the michigan/colo crew is out at benchmark at 7:00 P.M. thurs- if anyone in the area is available they would be glad to pay for a ride – three bodies plus large dog — call me at 574-340-2111 and I’ll put you in touch, thxs, dan
I would but I’m back in indianaJun 1, 2018 at 2:03 am #3539531
So glad to hear that- Phew! Sadly I’m back to work tomorrow :(Jun 1, 2018 at 4:02 am #3539556
Great TR Adrian, you’re right there was no chance I was sleeping under my boat with your great homemade tarp calling out to me.
Dan, by my count we’re actually at 5 swims if we’re counting both your near-impaling and my idiotic swim in basin creek!
Just posted my overly long trip report here: https://backpackinglight.com/forums/topic/bob-open-2018-2
The formatting is all messed up because it was copied from word, do any of you all know how to edit a post? BPL won’t let me for some reason.Jun 1, 2018 at 4:05 am #3539557
Will: The edit button is just above your post (top right) in a faint grey. Thankfully yours isn’t the first post in a thread, so you should be able to edit it.
For swims, I’ve got two for me (Moose Creek, MF Flathead), one for you (Basin Creek) and then one for Adrian (Spotted Bear). Am I missing one?Jun 1, 2018 at 4:18 am #3539561
Huh, the button is greyer out, I’ll try to edit it tomorrow.
Were you counting my swim on what I thought was a granite feeder but now think is Morrison? I have that, mine on basin creek, your near impaling, your MF Flathead, and Adrian’s Spotred BearJun 1, 2018 at 4:22 am #3539562
The edit button just looks greyed out. It should work. If you can’t edit the button isn’t there at all. Try clicking it.
I didn’t realize you had two swims…..nice work….I hear all the cool hikers go for two swims :)
Just starting your T/R now….Jun 1, 2018 at 4:43 pm #3539626
It was nice to stay relatively calm in the moment. If I recall, I came within 3 ft of the wall as I jumped on the boat, but luckily the hydraulics as the current turned left again were not crazy, otherwise I’m sure I would have flipped again.
Will–great report. It was a great effort to push all the way to the finish. I’m guessing you had some issues similar to what I experienced two years ago. How do your ankles look? Swollen at all?Jun 1, 2018 at 7:08 pm #3539657
The ankles are fine, my left midfoot which is the side I had the issue on is pretty well puffy though, and the tendon over the medial top has an unpleasant rubbery sort of grinding feeling when flexed.
What happened to you two years ago?Jun 1, 2018 at 7:23 pm #3539663
Just some pretty extreme inflammation in my ankles and pain at the front of my lower leg–likely from downhill walking with a pack. It took over a month to completely disappear.
Even with only 46 miles of walking this year, I still had a little swelling in my ankles, though that may have been from all the sidehilling after losing the trail.Jun 1, 2018 at 7:27 pm #3539664
Gotcha yeah that front lower leg pain sucks. How long did you take off running afterwards? Also how much time did you spend practicing reentering a flipped boat? Sounds like you were pretty confident after your flip which is something i’d like to cultivateJun 1, 2018 at 8:52 pm #3539687
Pretty much zero time off running, though that probably didn’t do anything to help. After a week or so, easy running for 40 minutes or less was mostly pain free. Anything faster or longer and it would get irritated. I raced a half marathon <4 weeks after the Bob and was going great until mile 7, at which point the pain skyrocketted and I decided to jog it in.
I’m not sure confident was the right word. Perhaps more of a realization that the time to getting back in my boat was the only variable I could affect at that moment. Taking things one step at a time too:: holding onto everything, getting horizontal in the water, getting down stream of the boat, flipping it, getting on, getting in….all of which could have been avoided with two strong strokes before hitting the hole. Something that is not innate as a novice paddler.Jun 3, 2018 at 5:10 pm #3539981
Trip report is up:
https://intocascadia.com/2018/06/03/bmwo-2018-double-swimmer/Jun 3, 2018 at 6:48 pm #3539997
nice write-up Dan :); to answer your question- I think one would have been very hard pressed to finish this year without a raft; not for the miles, but simply for getting across big water- we lucked out on a few unfordable crossings by finding a suitable log, but I’m sure that luck wouldn’t have held throughout
I agree with your assessment that operating near one’s limits is both challenging and rewarding at the same time
MikeJun 3, 2018 at 8:46 pm #3540009
I had such a hard time getting across Lick Creek even with a raft, that I started to wonder if most routes wouldn’t go at all. Lick Creek was fast and steep, and I had to ferry across perfectly to a small eddy, or I would have been going for a long spicy paddle downstream.
I should have spent more time looking for logs. Moose Creek probably had one if I looked around, and Lick Creek may have as well.Jun 4, 2018 at 2:59 am #3540077W I S N E R !BPL Member
Cool reports folks, thanks.Jun 6, 2018 at 2:29 pm #3540541
a buddy of mine at work showed up with a copy of the local Lincoln paper and lo and behold, an article on the Open :)
I’d link it online, but looks like you need to purchase a subscription
hope this readable
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