As I sit here now, I do regret not trying it because I could have pulled it off. Six Montana paddlers took a five day backpacking and packrafting trip into the Bob Marshall Wilderness to float about 56 miles of the South Fork of the Flathead River in mid-July. Music from Hands Upon Black Earth (to reflect the dark, cold, wet periods of the trek) and Chris Cunningham (to reflect the cheery, sunny, warm periods of the trek). Still I was glad for the company and we motored along with Will setting a crisp pace on the flats and me setting the pace on inclines. Instead of packrafting at ideal flows, in good weather and with the company of friends, you often end up packrafting at high flows, solo, tired, during poor weather and at either dusk or dawn. The trick is to keep the slope near that, and not hit spots that are substantially steeper still. With another hour of daylight I might have risked it, Â but the pragmatic decision was obvious, so I turned my focus towards completing the still stunning 2 miles on the ridge to the Pentagon drainage. 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. 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. Hardest hit was my inflatable life jacket which was no where to be seen. I figured I’d likely have to blow up the boat anyways to cross the Middle Fork Flathead in a couple miles, so if I could take a few miles off my feet here that would help. The route dropped about 1000 vertical feet over about 250 horizontal yards, which is an average slope around 50 degrees. Post by Tori.newburn » Tue May 12, 2020 3:11 pm Packrafting the Flathead River in Montanaâs Bob Marshall Wilderness. Seven of us left with Steve âDoomâ Fassbinder, an experienced packrafter and guide, to run the North Fork Flathead for thirteen miles to the confluence of the Middle Fork downstream. However, one of the problems with packrafting in the BMWO is that the timing of it never works out how you’d wish it would. Story by Eric Hanson, Photos by Jacob Moon. I regularly get lured into participating in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Open: a point A to B; plan your own route; wilderness event in the Montana Rockies during challenging off season conditions. 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. 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. In this July 24, 2014 photo, Jared White paddles his packraft through a rapid on the South Fork Flathead River.in Mont. Where to go: You can go packrafting wherever a trail leads to a body of water. Packrafting the Flathead River in Montanaâs Bob Marshall Wilderness. Beyond were a few canyon sections with beautiful waterfalls, spooky currents and moderate rapids – one of which separated a fellow participant from his boat – but I consistently took the most conservative lines and managed to stay surprisingly warm and trouble free. Backstory. As a side note, several other participants would go on to execute high passes well after darkness on this night and my hat is off to them. An hour later at 8 PM I reached my departure point from the ridge, still regretful I wasn’t doing the full ridge but not seriously considering it. I was concerned about the packrat though. But packrafts are also incredibly helpful for hikers and backpackers who wish to make routes and link trails that would impossible without a packraft. Length: 38 miles. 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. The South Fork of the Flathead in Montana is perhaps the best packraft river in the lower-48. Packrafting for Beginners. Enter your email to receive notifications of new posts. See more ideas about Packraft, Rafting, Adventure. Always good to read this report and the blog in general. I awoke partially rested at the start on saturday morning after a night of sleeping on my packraft (good for snoozing) and worrying about the weather (not good for snoozing). As I reached the edge of the precipice, it was clear that an impressive vertical drop awaited. Good to hear from you, Jim! 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 first BMWO was back in 2012 and I finished the 110 miles totally beat after 66 hours. Story and Photos By Heather Balogh The plane sputtered through the water and smoothly sailed into the distance, leaving the five of us standing on the banks of Circle Lake, watching our only link to civilization fly in the opposite direction. The latter was the route with good style, but now with heavy rainfall and diminishing daylight hours I reset my ambitions to just completing the former, which in itself looked dubious with the potential for snow, rain and white out conditions on the likely corniced ridge. Those 8 miles passed quickly in about an hour, and I reached my take out at Soldier Creek around 10 AM. In brief though, I was glad to arrive at the finish in good shape both mentally and physically. 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