The Thaw

It’s happening. The Middle Fork of the Flathead is at 3000 cfs, compared to 850 last weekend. Compare the following to this photo. Snowpack decreasing = spring.

I woke up early this morning, out of hunger more than anything, but also to watch some cycling.  An inch of fresh snow sat in the yard, and the sun was coming out.  I did what I told others to not do, and went boating instead of skiing.  It was what I wanted.

I borrowed M’s MSR snowshoes rather than ski, which was a wise choice.  Though a lot of the snow was bound to be awful no matter what.

Numerous moments of crotch deep postholing, even with the ‘shoes on.

I believe this should be called underflow.  A good hip flexor and quad workout.

What was a skiable trail last weekend is a stream this weekend: remarkable.

The trail goes that way, though I bailed on my goal of going all the way to the lower Nyack camp and headed off to find the creek at this point.  A choice which led to even more “fun.”

This is not Nyack Creek.  I thought it might lead to it, but the steady current sieved-out into willow thickets and under snowbanks.  Snowshoes back on, boat back away, more postholing and occasional breaking into flowing water of unknown depth under 2-3′ of snow.  Conditions which, quite frankly, suck, but I had never experienced an only partly thawed seasonal swamp before, so the route redeemed itself with educational value.

I was excited to finally reach the real creek.

Lower Nyack is a classic packraft float.  Except for (because of?) some really, really big wood jams.  Downstream goes off to the right of the above photo.  I got some good practice in ferrying onto micro-beaches, pushing the raft ahead as I postholed along, and seal launching off snowbanks.  Other than that it was nice, fast class 1 with plenty of logs in, on and mostly underneath the water to keep me on my toes.  The wood relented (for the most part) before a series of twisting oxbows, and relented entirely not far above the old bridge site where I put in on the way out last weekend.

The blessing that made all this silliness enjoyable was the warm spring sun, which aside from a few snow squalls shown all day, and made the drysuit I brought unnecessary.  I’ve skied a few of the lines you can see above this winter, but until today had yet to see any of them, from a distance and top to bottom.  I’m not hanging up the skis just yet.


2 thoughts on “The Thaw

  1. wow
    another great trip with the packraft. Can’t wait to use my one, which arrived last week, but we have not such great rivers and landscapes here in germany as you have. I’m a bit jealous.

  2. Thanks XX. In the continental US the Glacier/Bob Marshall area is packraft central.

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