The Bob is a legendary place. Hunters, anglers, backpackers, paddlers, and modern-day mountain men seek out the remote rivers, high-country basins, and lofty summits of the nearly one-million acre wilderness area.
Until recently I had only penetrated the Bob Marshall Wilderness on a few occasions, and then only by a couple of miles here and there. Last week a couple of friends and I embarked upon a long-awaited trip into the heart of the wilderness, a float trip on the South Fork of the Flathead River.
|Meeting the mules.|
Our group wasn't particularly interested in a no-frills pack-raft style river trip (although I can see the appeal). Instead we had larger one-man rafts (Outcast Catarafts and a Water Master), dry bags, real food, and beer packed in by mule train. To save a few bucks, and because we are able-bodied young men, we backpacked the twenty-seven miles to the put-in, rather than ride in on mules ourselves. We shouldered packs at the Pyramid Pass Trailhead, and worked our way through the Youngs Creek drainage. At the end of a hot, dusty trail we met the mules at the mouth of Gordon Creek.
Re-entry was painful, quite literally. Not only were we coping with the conclusion of one of the sweetest river trips any of us had ever done, we were humping out every bit of our gear on our backs - rather than those of mules. Sure, we'd lightened the load by consuming all of the food and beverages, but we still had our river gear - namely the boats - to contend with. Due to a section of gnarly, high-risk whitewater (Meadow Creek Gorge) that none of us cared to run, our takeout was three long miles from the trailhead parking area. We could have enlisted the services of horses or mules to pack our gear out, but being young and dumb we toughed it out.
The post-trip funk is nearly over, but I can't stop looking at the photos and wishing I was sitting on my boat somewhere between the White River and Salmon Forks, cracking a cold one and watching my buddies double up on cutts. Here's to you Bob Marshall.
|Hooked up near the White R. confluence.|
|A lucky guy with a big bull trout.|
|A beautiful moment.|
|Lower White River.|
|A flawless westslope cutthroat.|
|Quite a treat.|
|Trout, spuds, a bloomin' onion, and dutch oven goodness.|