2016 Bob Open analysis


18 folks started the Bob Open this year, a new record.  Near as I can tell, 12 finished.  As has been the case in the past, most of the chat has been over at BPL, but posting there now requires a small fee, which may require a change of venue.  Point being, anyone can show up for the Open, and no one has to say anything either before or after.  The following is my conjecture and my conjecture only, based on incomplete information.  No one, not even those of us who showed up, will ever have the complete picture.  Thankfully.

Everyone finished their traverse by hiking up Little Salmon and Palisade Creeks to Lion Creek Pass, then down Lion Creek.  Folks with boats had the luxury of floating the fast the easy Swan River to the Cedar Creek bridge, while those on foot had one of several dirt and paved (ditch) road walks to the finish.  The quickest finish was Les and Micah from Helena, purely on foot, in ultrarunner/hiker style, and in not much over 48 hours.  Reportedly they navigated the snowy and not-obvious Lion Creek pass in the dark, which must have been adventurous.  Slowest finish belonged to John and Thad, also from Helena, whose 4 day 7 hour route included an afternoon relaxing and spin fishing in Big Salmon Lake.

Saturday morning at Bean Lake everyone headed west up the Dearborn River, save Derek, who took a road and prairie route to the Benchmark road, by all accounts both expedient and foot crushing.  He made the Indian Creek patrol cabin on the West Fork of the Sun River by late that evening, for 46 foot miles.  Most of the Dearborn pack continued over the pass into Straight Creek, where some continued straight (both boating and walking) while others headed west over Elbow and Observation Passes to Danaher Creek.  The remainder of the field headed west and then south, taking Whitetail Creek into the headwaters of the North Fork of the Blackfoot, before taking the Dry Fork of the Blackfoot into Danaher Meadows.  I think the Elbow and Observation route was the quickest, if you had a raft to float Danaher and the South Fork.  The Teton Trio made the Basin Creek cabin, 48 miles of hiking, by midnight.  I floated from around the same location down to Little Salmon in seven hours, starting at noon on Sunday.  I also think everyone missed the boat by going over Lion Creek pass.  Taking Bunker Creek to Inspiration Pass and the Napa Point trail was I think the quickest finish, with fast boating miles to the Meadow Creek takeout, and much faster walking over the Swan Divide.

As has been the case in the past, and will doubtless remain the case in the future, connective tissue and joint issues caused the majority of bails.  The Bob Marshall in spring provides a unique combination of hard-packed trail miles and soft, uneven mud, snow, and deadfall.  Combine these two with 12-16 hour stretches on the trail and the legs are bound to suffer, and any chinks in ones training.

The Open will continue on Memorial Day weekend in 2017, with a similar or slightly longer course.


2 responses to “2016 Bob Open analysis”

  1. Hoping to get more details from Les and Micah over beers here in Helena- heck of a push by those guys!

    In addition to relaxing and fishing at Big Salmon, Thad also found a new dog- aptly renamed Bob :)

    1. Can’t make that one up.

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