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2015-08-03  
Bob Marshall Loop, MT
mini location map2015-08-03
95 by photographer avatarGrottoGirl
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Bob Marshall Loop, MT 
Bob Marshall Loop, MT
 
Backpack avatar Aug 03 2015
GrottoGirl
Backpack47.50 Miles 10,059 AEG
Backpack47.50 Miles5 Days         
10,059 ft AEG
 
1st trip
Linked none no linked trail guides
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Originally, we had been planning to go to Glacier NP to do a backpack but a wildfire had started along our route so a couple weeks before we started to plan a trip to the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Since we have started packrafting, we wanted to include that in our itinerary. I put together a really aggressive agenda which included 4 long days of backpacking and two days of packrafting. It wasn't very realistic. What I learned is that with a map you can change your agenda and still have a great trip!

Day 1 we hiked Harrison Creek to Silvertip Creek. The trail had been 'cleared' but was extremely brushy. In one spot I had to break up some webs in order to plow through the brush. I wanted to avoid the spiders we saw! :scared:

Once we gained the majority of our elevation we got amazing views of the surrounding limestone cliffs. We also could see down into the Silvertip drainage and the trees were amazing. The forest was vast.

When we got into Silvertip Creek we looked for the trail going up to Ibex Mountain. My GPS and the map I used to plot our route showed that the Trail went off from one of the last switchbacks. We fumbled around in that area looking for it but the forest was so dense we had to give up, besides it to past 8 PM and we were tired. We continued down the trail and found that the Ibex trail was actually right at where the trail crossed the creek. We had had a long, grueling day and we decided to make things somewhat easier going forward.

Day 2 we had a well deserved sleep in. Then we discussed our options and I managed to convince everyone to go check out the area I was calling the Shelf near Ibex. I had done a lot of research on that area using Google Earth and I just had to check it out! We had discussed just day hiking up there and then returning to our Silvertip Creek camp but I felt that the trees in the creek area were creepy and I wanted to stay high up where it was more open. I knew if we did it as a day hike I'd be very disappointed. The map showed markings for creeks as perennial so we felt confident there would be water. So, the decision was made to camp up high. We went up to the valley/shelf on the east side of Silvertip next to Ibex and Wall Cliffs and spent night 2. When we got up there, I sort of freaked. The first two drainages were dry! I was starting to figure that we would have to continue on our journey and not stay up high. I was getting depressed, I wanted to stay up there! We hit the low point of the valley/shelf and finally found that a drainage coming from the other side had water! Yay! The Shelf was my favorite campsite of the trip! The views were amazing. I even saw a Pika! Nighttime was a different experience for me. I often stay up a bit later because I can't sleep. With Grizzly Bear on the brain I found that I felt limited and therefore was often in bed at the same time as everyone else. However, on this particular night I was so hungry I ended up going to where we stashed our bear canisters to grab a midnight snack.

On Day 3 we followed an old route along the valley to the south. The maps all showed a trail going into Wall Creek, however, I never saw where the 'trail' on the map tips down into Wall Creek. I was told by a ranger that the trail is longer maintained so I guess that is why it might be hard to spot. The route we followed had long stretches where it was followable and then suddenly it would disappear! We ended up bushwhacking down to the trail near Juliet Creek. While we were bushwhacking you could hear us each start a song and sing what we could remember and then fade off. Then someone else would start a song. At one point, Joel was rapping! All of this was so that we didn't accidentally startle a Grizzly. Once we got to the trail we got confused by a well defined horse trail not on the map and ended up at a horse camp in the basin where White, Pedro, and Rooney creeks merge (we embarrassingly hiked the wrong direction). We followed another horse trail to get back on track heading South on the trail along White River. We hiked to the junction with the Pagoda Pass trail and then searched for a camp. I didn't want to stay in the creepy trees but it was starting to seem that was our only option and then we found an awesome meadow!!! :y:

We had to do a short bushwhack over a couple ridges to the White for water. I can't believe how clear that water is!

Our camp consisted of a kitchen on one side of the meadow. Then on the other side of the meadow at the edge was our tents. The trek to the kitchen was nearly two football fields long. That seemed to be very appropriate for Grizzly Bear country!

That night we found we were extremely hungry. We had been carrying food for 6 days and our new agenda was only 5 days. So we started to eat the excess! It was as exciting as most dinners are the last night of a backpack (you know what I'm talking about!). And to think we still had another night to splurge!

In the morning on Day 4, Joel got up to start our breakfast while I packed up our tent. I decided to peak out of him and saw that he had a friend! A doe! She hung out with us for a while during breakfast but then at some point she decided it was time to do something else.

The next morning went up and over the Pagoda Pass and then traversed the top of a canyon and down Helen's Creek to the Black Bear Ranger Station. We camped across the river from the cabin. We went to check out the cabin using the wood suspension bridge that was created for the pack teams. We found that the ranger's cabin was closed up (maybe it's only open during Hunting season?). We did find a really cool old phone that could be used to call the other stations but we didn't actually make a call (does short and long mean anything to anyone?). I also spied that there was an outhouse. After dinner, I asked Joel to go check out the outhouse with me as I needed to go and I didn't feel like digging a hole. We got across the bridge and saw a herd of elk! They ran off before I could get a good photo. But it was awesome to see them near the cabin.

We headed out on day 5 in our packrafts and floated to the take out spot. We saw our first two people right after we launched. Imagine going 4 full days without seeing anyone!!!! The South Fork of the Flathead River was very amazing. The water was clear, the rocks were smooth and colorful. It was beautiful! The water low and was running at ~400 CFS which was perfect for our rafts and skill level. There was still some challenges of small rapids, some that were even pretty complicated for us. One of which I got the pleasure of running with a small duck family. I was scared the ducklings wouldn't make it but they kept together and were successful!

Close to the end of our float, I upset my raft taking pictures of a small moose and drown my GPS! That was an awesome experience well worth the death of my trusted companion of over 4 years. When we finished floating we unpacked our stuff to dry it out really well and then hit the trail for the last 3 miles our a trip. We hiked as fast as we could and deemed the trail back to Meadow Creek TH the most miserable trail in the Bob! It was extremely dusty from all the horse travel.

While we didn't get to Glacier. I was very happy with our trip to the Bob. It was very challenging and we saw a lot of awesome wilderness. I hope I get to go back someday maybe to check out some caves in the limestone!

Note: trip mileage is minus the 8 miles of floating on the river that was posting in my GPS Route.
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