There are bison in Slough Creek. This did not surprise, the whole premise of my coveted tag this year is mostly older bulls who spend the summer and early fall up on the verge of the subalpine. The bison in Slough Creek are very large, also not a surprise, but a pleasure and something of an intimidating wake up to be able to spend a few cumulative hours watching a few dozen nap, eat, and piss. Almost all the bison up that winding green creek were big, like the one above, and more than satisfactory in every way.
The packrafting also did not disappoint. Slough’s been on my list since before I knew boating in the park was banned. As Forest notes the wood gets excessive not far above the Lake Abundance trail crossing, which is a pity, as the mile below that was just fast enough, continuous, and with great sight lines a clean read and run feast of boulder dodging and over the head splashes. Of course, I lost track of the beeps amidst my excitement and the water roar, and turned the GoPro off rather than on for this stretch. It was the sort of intro that made the ensuing calm float immersive as the adrenaline haze slowly cleared.
Then, for the second time in the last three floats, I put a hole in my boat. As with a few weeks ago, I’m not quite sure what I hit. Unlike a few weeks ago, I got the tube, and detection started with wondering if I had a poor temper, then a minute later realizing that air was leaking in a way which could mean only one thing. Ever since I got my cargo fly I’ve become more and more comfortable with stuffing more and more stuff in it, up to and including a whole boned out deer and more regularly, trekking poles inside my backpack. On this trip belt material testing had my toting my Revolution, and I put trekking poles, frame halves, cross stays, and tripod inside my packbag, which in turn went inside the user-left side of the boat. That I got a few small holes on this side 1″ above the tube line is I deem evidence that I shouldn’t stuff the boat with pokey things, save perhaps on moderate and full rivers where the risk of hitting bottom is minimal.
Nothing that Aquaseal can’t fix. And thankfully I was almost at the park boundary, where the law would have obliged me to pack up anyway.
There was never much doubt in my mind, but it was nice to confirm that bison do in fact regularly go north of the park, and in decent numbers. Now only to go back at the end of summer, confirm they are still there, and muster the growing and very solid crew in for a monstrous packout. I can’t think of many better places for it.