Saturday, August 29, 2009

Rocky Mountain Update - New-ness in Wyoming

Photo: ES

To quote the Big Lebowski, "New Sh!t has come to light man," and not in relationship to Bunny being kidnapped here but to a new mecca for wilderness creek boating.

There our some uh, concerns here though and we need to address them before we move on. The area in question is located on the Wind River Indian Reservation. The Wind River Mountains located on the Reservation are sacred to the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. They are sacred to us as well. Before attempting any of these runs there is a set protocol which must be followed and which is summed up below.

You MUST obtain the proper permits for ALL days you are on Reservation land. A backcountry fishing license is required for you to access these areas. You can purchase your licenses at various places on the reservation and in many of the surrounding communities including Lander and Dubois. Click Here for a full list of purchase locations.

The legality of actually kayaking here is controversial. Please use caution. A rescue situation requiring outside assistance would certainly jeopardize our access. The Shoshone think we are crazy for running these rivers but they are also impressed with our skill and ability to SAFELY navigate them. One of their main concerns is that they do not want to have us getting injured and/or dying on their land. These are SERIOUS class V expedition style runs, even if they are only one day long. The Wind River Wilderness is as unforgiving a landscape as exists in the lower 48.

Do not draw attention to yourselves. NO GUNS. NO WHITE MAN FIRES. NO DOGS. NO CHASING THE WILDLIFE. USE LEAVE NO TRACE BACK COUNTRY TECHNIQUES AND BE KIND TO EVERYONE YOU ENCOUNTER, ESPECIALLY THE LOCALS. We are guests on their land, never forget that for a moment. I will hunt you down myself and scalp you if I find out you blew our access for some idiotic reason.

And now with the obligatory scare tactics and reservation issues out of the way, where and what are we even talking about?

This is what and where we are talking about! Photo: ES

There are now three classic runs which have recently been opened up on the Wind River Reservation that, for all intensive purposes, are the best wilderness creek boating in the Rockies. Seriously. I know hard to believe but if you are willing to work for it you will be justly rewarded.

Case in point, Fraser Tear tearing it up on the NF Little Wind. Photo: Aaron Mulkey

The North Fork of the Little Wind River was added to the areas must-do list in mid-July by Brady Johnston, Austin Rathman, Andy Blakeslee and myself. This little gem can be done in a day and has relatively easy access for the Winds. It also has potential to become an overnight classic as there is more gradient upstream of what was accomplished this past summer.

Fraser Tear again, in Larry, the first of the Three Stooges. Photo: Aaron Mulkey

Rathman in Double Duece. Photo: AM

For the complete story of our adventure go to Boofington Heights HERE

For some more beta and more of how to get this thing done go HERE

OK. So great there's this awesome little run there, with some sweet waterfalls and beatuiful granite bedrock. But what else right?

Austin moving on to the SF Little Wind. Photo: AM

Austin lead the charge to finally get these runs done and once we had knocked of the NF he was more than ready to accept the more difficult challenge of accessing the SF. He coerced Aaron Mulkey and Tom Sunderland into first getting a taste of the Nf and then on joining him to get the SF done. And they got it done in epic style!


Austin on Gadgets Go Coaster. Photo: AM

Tom on Atro Orbiter. Photo: AM

To read the full report of their one day, what should definitely be a two day adventure go HERE.

So now you've got these two amazing cali-style granite overnights in the same drainage, which is enough to have most packing their bags and heading north to WY. But wait, there's more! These could really serve as just a warm-up for the main event, one drainage to the north!!! BULL LAKE CREEK!

No Bull. Kyle McCutchen, Haagen Daazen. Photo: Ian Garcia

The NF Little Wind requires about 2-3 miles or so of hard hiking and a minor portage. The SF Little Wind requires 5 miles of hard hiking and few major portages. Bull Lake requires 20 miles of hiking and more than a few MAJOR portages. It is a mission. But for the true class V wilderness paddler it is one of the best. When you hike 20 miles, over two passes, from a 4WD road already deep in wild reservation land, to the base of the Continental Divide, you are officially out there. It's just you and your compatriots, the grizzlies, the trout, the eagles and the stouts. It is simply amazing country and for all the trouble the whitewater had better be good right. It is, damn good too.

Ian Garcia below the Class V Sneak rapid. Photo: ES

Ian Garcia in the Jim Bridger Double Slide. Photo: ES

For a good report on a Bull Lake mission go HERE.

So there it is. The case for the southern half of the Wind River Reservation being the best area for wilderness creek boating in the Rockies. Where do you think the best wilderness creek boating in the Rockies is? (OBJ will not be accepted as an answer to this question).

ES

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