Bruce Wauer, Whitefish Real Estate, Northwest Montana Bruce Wauer Whitefish Real Estate, Northwest Montana
             
 

Bob Marshall Wilderness, August 2005

These photos were taken July 31 through August 6, 2005 during a pack trip that I took into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Known fondly as "the Bob" to us locals, it encompasses about 1 million acres of protected wilderness. The trip was run by the Rich Ranch, an outfitter near Seeley Lake, Montana. There were nine guests on the trip, including myself, and five staff members to cook, guide, and manage the livestock. We had a great time!

You can click on any of the images to display a full-sized image.

 

Day 1, North Fork of the Blackfoot Trailhead

We trailered horses, mules, and gear from the Rich Ranch to the trailhead. This facility is shared by all of the outfitters that run trips into the Bob.

 
 

Day 1, North Fork of the Blackfoot Trailhead

Mounting up for our first day of riding, 19 miles to the Camp Creek camp.

 
 

My Horse, Hawk

This is the noble steed who pretty much ran the show for the first few days, until I figured out how to communicate properly with him.

 
 

Day 2, Danaher Meadows Camp

This is the "stables" area of the camp. The mule train had problems on the ride out, and did not arrive until 9:00 pm. We had to set up camp and eat dinner in the dark. All part of the wilderness experience!

 
 

Day 2, Packing the Gear

The wranglers are packing up our gear for the day's ride. They actually teach a course in Wilderness Outfiting and Packing at the University of Montana.

 
 

Day 2, Packing the Gear

The packs are lined up in matched pairs in preparation for loading onto the mules. Balance is critical to animal safety and efficiency - the mules can carry in excess of 300 lbs.

 
 

Day 2, Leaving Danaher Meadows

The mule string leads the way to the next campground.

 
 

Day 2, Leaving Danaher Meadows

The line of riders follows the mule string into the trees, on our way to our next campsite, Camp Creek.

 
 

Day 2, Arriving at Camp Creek

Nearing the end of a 12-mile ride. We are all looking forward to sleeping in the same place for three nights!

 
 

Day 3, Camp Creek

This is Camp Creek, only a stones-throw from my tent. We caught a bunch of small, 6-8 inch cutthroat trout from here. To try to eliminate catching the 6-inch trout, I switched the largest fly in my box - and promptly caught the smallest one yet!

 
 

Day 3, Camp Creek Camp

This is our kitchen. The group to the left are playing cribbage - there always seemed to be a game going on. It was way too complicated for me to learn. Besides, I was busy fishing most of my free time.

 
 

Day 3, Camp Creek Camp

That's my tent in the front. Home for three nights, and quite comfortable. One morning it registered 36 degrees inside my tent!

 
 

Day 3, Camp Creek Breakfast

Breakfast every morning was around the campfire. We feasted on bacon & eggs, pancakes, fried potatoes, and biscuits from the dutch oven. Our cook for the trip, Peggy Cahoon, worked some real miracles. We ate like kings!

 
 

Day 3, Camp Creek Camp

Shooting the breeze around the campfire. One of the other guests brought a guitar, so we actually got to sing cowboy songs around the campfire!

 
 

Day 4, Daytrip to Pearl Basin

We left first thing in the morning on a 10-mile ride to Pearl Basin and the Chinese Wall. It was actually worth missing a day of fishing to see this place!

 
 

Day 4, Daytrip to Pearl Basin

We parked the horses and then took a short hike to the top, up to the left in this picture.

 
 

Day 4, On the Chinese Wall

Perched on the edge and looking north along the Wall. The Chinese Wall, so named because it looks like the Great Wall of China, runs north-south along the Continental Divide for almost 20 miles.

 
 

Day 4, On the Chinese Wall

Also known as the Lewis Overthrust, this wall is the result of the geologic upheaval in which Montana split "wide open" from Glacier Park on the north nearly to Yellowstone Park on the south.

 
 

Day 4, On the Chinese Wall

From the Haystack Mountain area west of the Continental Divide, the view of the 1,000-foot high Chinese Wall is virtually unbroken for nearly 20 miles. The Chinese Wall is home to eagles, mountain goats, and mountain sheep.

 
 

Day 4, On the Chinese Wall

Ralph Cahoon, the leader on our trip, shows us where we are on the map. Ralph is the one wearing the vest. His grandfather introduced him to the Bob when he was 5 years old, and he has been packing into it ever since.

 
 

Day 4, On the Chinese Wall

One of those Kodak moments you just can't pass up. They kept telling me to back up just one more step!

 
 

Day 4, On the Chinese Wall

The obligatory group shot. Our faces are in shadow to protect our identities.

 
 

Day 4, Views From Pearl Basin

Just some of the great views as we left the basin.

 
 

Day 4, Views From Pearl Basin

We saw some mountain goats off to the left of this picture as we were leaving the basin.

 
 

Day 4, Views From Pearl Basin

The last shot before leaving the basin. Just a short 10-mile ride back to camp and another of Peggy's superb suppers!

 
 

Day 5, Fishing at the Confluence

Youngs Creek and Danaher Creek join to form the headwaters of the South Fork of the Flathead River. The area is referred to by our guides as "the confluence". We stopped for some fishing on the way to our next camp. Finally caught some larger cutthroat, about 14 inches.

 
 

Day 5, Forest Service Cabin

This gentleman was in the Bob to spray for noxious weeds. He was sharing the cabin with some biologists studying amphibious species in the area.

 
 

Day 5, Hole in the Wall

The large cave in the upper left is known as Hole in the Wall (no relation to the Hole in the Wall Gang of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fame). The river below is Youngs Creek.

 
 

Day 5, Hole in the Wall

Just behind the Hole in the Wall, on the next ridge, is the Jumbo Mountain Lookout Post. The gal that was manning the post for the summer had been there since June.

 
 

Day 6, Youngs Creek Camp

This is Youngs Creek, near our camp. Fishing was not too great here, so we rode back to Hole in the Wall and fished from there most of the day - and caught some whoppers!

 
 

Day 6, Youngs Creek Camp

Breakfast around the campfire - you just can't beat the taste of bacon and eggs around the campfire.

 
 

Day 6, Youngs Creek Camp

This is the corrals at the camp, maintained by the friendly folks from the Rich Ranch.

 
 

Day 7, Youngs Creek Camp

Packing up for the last time. I got to where by the last day I was able to have my gear and tent packed up in less than 30 minutes. I was never late for breakfast!

 
 

Day 7, Youngs Creek Camp

Taking a final look around before hitting the trail. We all really hated to leave.

 
 

Day 7, Leota Park Hunting Camp

This is the hitching post at the Rich Ranch hunting camp at Leota Park. We stopped off here for a break on our way out of the Bob. The Rich Ranch runs hunting trips from September through November out of this camp.

 
 

Day 7, Leota Park Hunting Camp

Leaving Leota Park. That is Leota Peak rising up on the right. The Flathead Indians used to camp in this same meadow when they visited the area. You can still see tepee rings in some places.

 
 

Day 7, Leaving the Bob

I turned around to take this picture of the signpost marking the entrance to the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

 
 

Day 7, Pyramid Lake

Our last landmark before the Pyramid trailhead, where we loaded up the gang and drove back to the Rich Ranch for a nice farewell dinner.

 
 
 
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The Bob Marshall Wilderness

The Bob Marshall Wilderness was named after early forester, wilderness preservation pioneer, and Wilderness Society cofounder Bob Marshall. This region was set aside as the South Fork, Pentagon, and Sun River Primitive Areas in 1941, and designated as wilderness in 1964. Here is one of the most completely preserved mountain ecosystems in the world, the kind of wilderness most people can only imagine: rugged peaks, alpine lakes, cascading waterfalls, grassy meadows embellished with shimmering streams, a towering coniferous forest, and big river valleys.

The Wilderness, which includes the North and South Forks of the Sun River and the Middle and South Forks of the Flathead River, runs for 60 miles along the Continental Divide, with elevations ranging from 4,000 feet to more than 9,000 feet. A huge escarpment called the Chinese Wall, a part of the Divide, highlights the Bob's vast untrammeled beauty, with an average height of more than 1,000 feet and a length of 22 miles. The Chinese Wall extends into Scapegoat Wilderness to the south. The Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex (which encompasses Bob Marshall, Scapegoat, and Great Bear Wildernesses) is habitat for the grizzly bear, lynx, mountain lion, wolf, black bear, moose, mountain sheep, mountain goat, elk and a variety of other birds, mammals and plants.

You'll find more than 1,000 miles of trails, from well-used maintained trails to primitive trails having less maintenance as you travel deeper into Montana's largest Wilderness.