While eating cookies and watching the sunset at my excellent ridgetop camp this past Saturday, I decided what the Bob Open course will be for next year: Benchmark to Black Bear. Details are in the tab, above. I’ve thought all along that it would change every year, to keep it interesting for me and everyone, with favored courses revisited should the tradition continue. There are lots of access points for the Bob, and so much varied terrain, that there’s no reason to not make every year quite distinct in character.
This year was a great intro to the Bob, with the full spectrum of high desert, open rivers, high passes, and treed valleys on display. The shuttle around to the start from the finish was a pain, but there is just no way around that. The finish was about as convenient as it could get, save for Greg and Dan who had to road-hobble on exploding feet. This last part is crucial, and my first and preferred option (Monture to Teton Pass ski hill) got shelved because getting out from that finish, and especially hitching to it should you bail, would be a serious nuisance. In this case, hitch, float, or walk down to the Isaak Walton and ask to borrow their phone.
In some respects this new course will be easier, at least insofar as snow is concerned. Most of the options are much lower than the 2012 course, and the Bob generally becomes lower altitude going north, at least at valley-base level. Fewer people will (or should be) carrying snowshoes and the like. The possibility even exists, provided we get especially dry conditions, for a conherent attempt via mountain bike.
On the other hand, the water obstacles are exponentially more substantial. No one had any mandatory tough stream or river crossings this year. Almost everyone will have one next year. This is quite intentional, and I will do everything I can in the future to make the various stock bridges as inconvenient as possible. They’re unavoidable, but out of character with the spirit of the event. If you’re thinking about participating next year but lack experience making unbridged crossings of streams at the height of melt off, get some in the next nine months. If after studying the maps for this route you’re not worried by water, you are a fool. Yes, packrafters will have a much easier time in 2013.
It’s been remarkable how many locals have come out of the woodwork to comment on this, in several cases stopping me in the street to ask questions. Many of the follow-ups say, in essence, that it’s a neat idea but would be a lot more fun in July. My response is that anyone who wants to organize an unsupported trail run across the Bob is free to do so. It won’t be me.
Time to start your research.