The first BMWO was back in 2012 and I finished the 110 miles totally beat after 66 hours. Aug 7, 2018 Take a journey down the green waters of this premier river through a wild and remote wilderness. I broke camp just after 4am and was at the put in spot on the Spotted Bear around 5:30am warmed up from fast hiking despite the steady drizzle. I planned to put in 5 miles downstream at Dean Creek. The South Fork of the Flathead River in Montana is one of those classic packrafting trips my husband and I had been scheming about for years. The river looked more sporty that I was hoping it would with the rain of the last 24 hours obviously driving up the levels, but likely manageable. Most notable was the time a blister on my pinky toe expanded under the pounding of my footsteps until it encapsulated the entire toe in one big blister. from Dan Hagen Plus . in Packrafting, Trip Report, Photography, Camping. … I’ve previously suffered the ill effects of opting for a red trail in both 2013 and 2017. I had purchased my maps from Cairn back in 2012 when they first came out. Once on top, I would follow that ridge with the option to descend after two miles into the Pentagon drainage (where a trail would await), or continue on ridges all the way to the Spotted Bear River at Dean Creek. I could have legitimately gone for a jog the next day, which is something I can’t say of any previous BMWO. Back in 2012 my blister strategy was simply to let it happen and keep walking, which resulted in a supremely painful final 24 hours. Packrafting the Middle Fork of the Flathead River - YouTube The Flathead, in northern Montana, is part of the National Wild and Scenic River System. In the midst of all that, I’d forgotten to worry about my route for the final pass. By dropping off here, I had 1.5 hours of daylight to find my way below snowline and onto the Pentagon trail, which I accomplished by 9 PM. Packrafting for Beginners. It is also very remote. Our crew– comprised of Will, Amy, Shannon, Drew, and myself– had been planning this trip for months. Maybe next year I’ll plan a really hard pass for 2 AM just to challenge myself. Making 1.5 MPH when you wanted to make 3.5 MPH is disappointing, but if you slow further to 1 MPH or 0.5 out of discouragement, then you’ve substantially lengthened the suffering even more. Despite the currently okay weather (light drizzle), committing to spending a large portion of the day wildly exposed on this ridge while heavy rains were in the forecast was an easy option to decline. Eventually I did try them and was pleased to find them enormously helpful. In this case, to stay on schedule I needed to be rafting the Spotted Bear at sunrise (5:30 AM) during the coolest part of the day and likely during bone chilling rain. That year I never even found the trail. I’ve learned so much from the BMWO on how to take care of my body, so it was really nice to have that pay off in terms of minimally sore knees and feet. Enter your email to receive notifications of new posts. Other packrafts exist, but they are either too fragile for moving water use in a wilderness setting, or too heavy. Back on trail, my focus shifted to the next obstacle: packrafting the Spotted Bear River. Getting over a pass and back onto terrain I can handle in darkness or bad weather is always a relief. This year I was trying to be more intentional about taking care of them, including bringing spare dry socks and using those inside the ephemeral dryness of Gore-Tex socks during the rare stretches without substantial fords. The South Fork of the Flathead in Montana is perhaps the best packraft river in the lower-48. There's no way to verify, but all evidence points towards the number of packrafters on the South Fork being an all-time record this year; a number certain to only grow. With the dropping temperatures, I was worried about handling rain – or perhaps snow – on the high ridge. The water was swift and cold, and the weather could not have been better. Packrafting opened up a world of adventure for me. Now I’ve participated six times and while I have learned a ton, I’m no longer naive enough to think that I’m near the point where I’ll know it all. Those 8 miles passed quickly in about an hour, and I reached my take out at Soldier Creek around 10 AM. July 15, 2019. by John Nestler. In brief though, I was glad to arrive at the finish in good shape both mentally and physically. On snowshoes I neared the headwall of Clack Creek and was greatly relieved to have the rain cease as I broke above treeline. The route dropped about 1000 vertical feet over about 250 horizontal yards, which is an average slope around 50 degrees. Rafting & Paddling the South Fork Flathead River Floating the South Fork of the Flathead River is perhaps one of the finest floats anyone can do in the lower 48. Below is the route I executed, with the mode of travel colored coded by purple (on trail), red (off trail) and blue (packrafting), and with dotted orange showing high alpine routes that went unexecuted. This time around I was ensnared by a mistake from the map maker. Even the calm sections had enough power to pick you up and take you away. This 5 or 6-day fishing excursion is a once in a lifetime opportunity to fish the famous South Fork Flathead River drainage. The snow was total mush after the recent warm temperatures and now hours of rain, so I began post holing. At the moment Alpacka packrafts are the only game in town. It was a steep downhill slide to the pool, but if I had learned anything about backcountry fishing, it was that pools like this are worth fishing. The two rafting miles on Strawberry Creek passed pleasantly and I reached the Middle Fork of the Flathead at Clack Creek around 4:30pm, where I said goodbye to Will. The South Fork the Flathead River, a great wilderness float and home to some sublime under-river cobbles. It was immediately obvious this was going to be a horrible alder bash, but back tracking now was out of the question so I turned to the task at hand. I had taken one look at that section while planning my route and concluded that it was impossible.”. I've been getting lots of questions concerning what … The 2019 course started near the NE corner of the Bob at the Swift Reservoir, and ran 50 miles in a straight line to Swan Lake, with routes on the ground in the range of 80 – 95 miles. The river grew steadily sportier and larger, with the latter not being my preference. Meadow Creek gorge is pretty fun packrafting at low water, and the silver lining of 2015 is that it’s in good runnable … As I sit here now, I do regret not trying it because I could have pulled it off. If I stop coming to the BWMO, it won’t be because the event no longer challenges me. I’ve realized the hazard of this, which is the first step in staying safe. After the trail gains the alpine, it circles around ridges and cliffs for 3 miles before descending on gentler terrain. The rat sampled a variety of my stuff sacks, as well as the buttons on my InReach satellite device. Still, it’s clear to me the learning is nowhere finished. Flow: 4,300 – 3,400 cfs @ MF Flathead West Glacier Gauge. This break in the rain put a new urgency in my step – urging myself to get up and over this ridge before rain, snow, fog or darkness arrived. It’s billed as not a race, but the “R” word slips out here and there – often enough to know that some individuals treat it as such. Packrafting is particularly popular with canyoneers, who drop into slot canyons where the only way out is a river or lake. Unfortunately this would be another year where my optimistic plans were waylaid by the important distinction between red and black trails on the Cairn maps. Soon after, Will and I put into Strawberry to packraft (downstream of Trail Creek). See more ideas about Packraft, Rafting, Adventure. 6 friends set out into Montana’s legendary Bob Marshall wilderness to float and fly fish the pristine South Fork Flathead River. In particular, we found a clever path through the otherwise mostly continuous snow by hugging the edge of the Gateway Creek gully: Once back on good trail, the much feared rain started and we quickly reached Strawberry Creek. Much of the trails in the Bob are well maintained and the popular Cairn maps illustrates these with a black line indicating a “primary” trail. Good to hear from you, Jim! Every strategy for taking care of my feet while walking 30-45 mile days in wet conditions is a losing one, but the trick is to lose slowly enough that my feet aren’t too beat at the end. The South Fork of the Flathead River in Montana is one of those classic packrafting trips my husband and I had been scheming about for years. With that weighing on my mind, I started briskly down the trail at 8 AM glad for company from Will, who put in a tremendous effort last year to finish hours ahead of me. Once again, I am congratulating myself for not being in the BMO. Heavy rain started but I was comfortable on the protected porch and was able to partially dry some gear near a fire while I semi-napped on my raft in my 20F quilt. We had camped at the confluence that forms the South Fork and as we ate fish tacos and smoked pipes, we pondered what might lie down-river. Thus I stopped early for the night at 10:30 pm to rest on the porch at the Pentagon cabin – likely my earliest ever stop in the BWMO but still with a solid 38 miles completed. It is very scenic. Additionally, I wanted to link the valleys together with interesting passes to add a challenge with the potential reward of a short cut if successful. Otherwise I’ll slow dramatically to a pleasant pace. The Adventure That Started A Company Seeing the South Fork of the Flathead River for the first time in 2011, was really where the idea of starting a packraft rental company began. Unfortunately, I saw that they turned south, and then west. 6 years ago. The first few miles to Soldier Lake were fine but on the back side the trail became an overgrown logging road, and then deteriorated entirely as I joined the “trail” for 8 miles up Conner Creek. The final mountains – the Swan Range 1st, 2019 – on the South Fork River.in... 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