During the summer of 2017 I recieved interest and commitment from seven other people to go on a week long trip through the Bob Marshall Wilderness area along the South Fork of the Flathead.
“The South Fork” beings at the confluence of Young’s and Danaher Creek just northwest of Ovando Montana. It winds its way through “The Bob” until it pours into Hungry Horse Reservoir near Kalispell. During its journey to Hungry Horse it is an untamed and wild river. Surrounded by The Bob’s 1 million square acres the river is frequented by bear far more than people.
Planning must begin early, as in a year in advance. For trips with rafts or requiring mules/horses those dates fill up fast. I booked and reserved dates in June of 2017 for July of 2018. The prime dates are usually the second week of July as that is when the water is generally high enough still for rafts, yet run off has subsided from its peak. Water level can be a big issue up there, too little water can turn the trip into one where you wished you had brought a pack raft instead of a boat.
While it is possible to just hire mules and do a drop float we elected to do a custom trip through an outfitter that included them bringing a boat and two people. They are also responsible for food and camp, setting up and cooking the meals each day. This offered us significant cost savings over hiring guides for fishing as it allowed us to put three people in a boat, and not have to pay for a guide during the day for fishing.
We are bringing a total of three boats, 2 13ft Aire 130R and a Hyside 10.5ft Mini Max. The frames will be stripped down basic whitewater frames. I had Down River Equipment in town make me some “custom” stern seats that are two dimensional for the packer to take in. With just a few weeks until departure we are making final preparations for has been a very long year of anticipation.
Saturday (Day 1)- Hike 20 miles
Sunday (Day 2)-Hike 8 miles and start floating
Monday-Friday (Day 3-7)- Float and fish the river
Saturday (Day 8)- Short float to takeout and return to Base
Sunday (Day 9)- Drive home