Tuesday, August 19, 2008
“A large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life, by him who interests his heart in everything”
Exploring is an addiction of mine, and no matter how many well traveled paths I follow, it seems there is always a rough side trail leading me another direction. Sometimes these trails lead to great creeks and waterfalls or simply lead to nothing but hiking with a loaded boat. Fortunately, they are all rewarding in there own way and seem to keep me looking for the next unexplored creek.
A friend of mine Joe Josephson (aka JoJo) who spends a lot of time running around the Beartooths told me to check out Broadwater Creek, high in the upper Clarks Fork drainage. His words were, “I'm not sure if its runnable, but it's got a lot of water”. Its hard to just grab the gear and go on everyones tips, but this one felt good. After checking it out on Google Satellite it looked promising.
Google map looks like slides and steepness!
I figured it was only an hour and half drive, and the hike in would be about 2 miles. There looked to be a trail leading into the upper lake that followed the creek and would hopefully allow us some short windows to view the creek.
Tom Sunderland, Randy Binder, and Matt joined the team. We took off around three in afternoon which was wasn’t our smartest decision, but we thought we could hammer out the hike and run pretty quickly.
After a few creek crossings and some 4 wheeling we found the takeout and started hiking. From the quick view of the lower creek the water looked low but doable, and looked like it might have some hope of being a good run.
Once we hit the lake we started realize that wood was an issue. There wasn’t a standing live tree to be seen and a fire which I believe was part of the 80’s Yellowstone fire scorned the area and numerous trees lined the banks like dominos. The area was solid granite with domes escaping out of the meadows and rising to the sky. Our hopes were high that the upper reaches would reward us with granite slides and waterfalls. As we got closer the upper gorge had neither and was very typical of other stretches of the Clarks Fork, carved granite gorges with boulder drops, wood and big boofs.
Our dreams of slides and falls diminished quickly while the remoteness and beauty of the area quickly consumed us. Soon the wood would also consume our boating efforts and we all got our fair share of sketchy faries above log jams and trying to negotiate the limbo under numerous logs. A few of us got to wrestle with some logs and do some underwater belly dancing which is always good to practice.
The first gorge ended up running really well and then we hit the first meadow which felt more like a lake and then we were able to paddle the first half and then the portaging started. Like a fly crawling across a web we negotiated our way thru heavy downed timber, chest high jungle bush and granite boulders. For almost an hour we moved down stream eventually reaching a maze of timber as the creek bled into small veins below the steeps of the second gorge and into the second meadow.
Check out the horizon line, there was no fact the creek was steep and gorgeous
Finally back in our boats and very thankful to be back in water we moved across another gorgeous lake/meadow and dropped into the third steep section which provided fun read and run class 4 with the occasional log limbo to keep it spicy.
Not a classic run, not a run I will ever do again, but a run that took me on an adventure to explore an area I otherwise would not have seen. The views were gorgeous and worth just hiking into to see alone. I don’t regret hiking in and boating at all it was fun and its always fun to get off the local runs and see something new.
Its like hunting, some people hunt there entire lives without that big trophy. I can say I have hunted for new creeks and new ice climbs for almost 10 years and have been very successful and fortunate in my hunts. The hunt is what keeps me going!
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Just in case you wondered why they called it Stix and Stones!
Boof the log, rail slide the right wall, 2 quick strokes away from the sieve, and split the two logs and tuck. Ahh yes, Stix and Stones was holding to its name of sketchy class 5 drops with marginal lines.
Its a good thing I didnt have this view before probing it for the young lads. I told them after I ran it "nice and clean" and that it would be tuff to hit the log and they both followed with some type of log interaction of various degrees.
Stix and Stones lies high in the upper Clarks Fork River a little over an hour from Cody, Wyoming, and has been on my list of runs to get on for quite sometime. This section of water lied untouched for quite some time after a group of Jackson paddlers reported horror stories of numerous portages and drop after drop filled with wood.
About 5-6 years ago kayakers began to wander into its depths again with only curiosity guiding them. Some found the drops and crystal blue waters inviting, and others found numerous portages and swarms of mosquitos. We found that the portages weren’t that bad, eight in all, and for the most part the mosquitos were the worst part of portaging.
When we put on, the Clarks Fork gauge was reading about 1100cfs and we found the flows to be at a minimum flow. I really do believe you could get in there at some pretty high flows, maybe 3000 on the Clarks Fork gauge and will hopefully get a chance to test that theory next season.
You better come to Stix and stones ready to fire up some marginaly runable drops and get comfortable with wood. It sucks when you factor in dealing with the blood sucking mosqutios to run a drop. I took two young guns with me Tom Sunderland and Randy Binder, both having a great year firing it up in their first class 5 season.
This was the put in drop which looked like it would be runnable with much higher flows.
Mid way thru the first gorge of big drops stacking up on eachother. This section that was super fun!
Great pools between drops in the lower half of the run
Lower Chicken Head Falls
Tom was pretty excited about this drop, instead of giving it a thumbs up he gave it the air hump!
Randy getting ready for the boof on one of the 15 footers
What I like to call " The Money Shot" Randy catching me styling Chicken Head Falls
We all agreed the run was super fun and the drops just keep getting better "Oh Yeah" and they get cleaner!
Thanks to Randy and Tom for shooting great photos.