Beartrap Canyon, MT 4000-5000 cfs - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 05-28-2009   #1
 
Bozeman, Montana
Paddling Since: 2006
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Beartrap Canyon, MT 4000-5000 cfs

Anyone run beartrap at 4000-5000cfs in a raft? I ran it a couple of times at 2000 cfs. How about compared to the Lochsa at 17000 cfs. Just did that, and it was fun. I wasn't really intimidated by it......

Thanks,
Dr

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Old 05-29-2009   #2
River Gypsy
 
Swannanoa, North Carolina
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peakseeker View Post
Anyone run beartrap at 4000-5000cfs in a raft? I ran it a couple of times at 2000 cfs. How about compared to the Lochsa at 17000 cfs. Just did that, and it was fun. I wasn't really intimidated by it......

Thanks,
Dr
If you go, please take pictures. I need Beartrap pics for the guidebook that I'm working on.

Thanks!

Leland
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Old 05-30-2009   #3
 
Bozeman, Montana
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I ran it last year at 4200, the sink is certainly much bigger but manageable. I got spun and ran it backwards (in my 14' raft) but better than broadside. I've never floated the Lochsa so sorry can't compare.

Double drop (optional rapid above powerehouse) was tough, and at that level greenwave wasn't an option for me. PM me if you want to hook up for a shuttle.

Leland-what kind of guidebook?
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Old 05-31-2009   #4
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by peakseeker View Post
Anyone run beartrap at 4000-5000cfs in a raft? I ran it a couple of times at 2000 cfs. How about compared to the Lochsa at 17000 cfs. Just did that, and it was fun. I wasn't really intimidated by it......

Thanks,
Dr
I've never run Beartrap, but since no one else is jumping in, here's my gut feelings based on a bit of research I did last year about running Beartrap. Let me emphasize the "gut" in case someone with experience with both posts and knows differently.

It doesn't sound like it is comparable to the Lochsa. A couple of Class IV's (Beartrap), vs 10-12 in a row (and many would rate them higher-Lochsa) on the Goat Range section only.

But it does sound like the couple of big rapids are big, with some moves required. And, there's no road following

Shoot, you're in Bozeman, check out the local shops. And search the Buzz, there was some talk of it last year. TGR also has a lot of Bozemanites on-line.
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Old 06-01-2009   #5
River Gypsy
 
Swannanoa, North Carolina
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Originally Posted by Lexi-bell View Post

Leland-what kind of guidebook?
The River Gypsies' Guide to North America. It's a destination paddling guide to the best 25-40 runs from class III-V+ in each of 9 regions around the continent, and info on camping, showers, internet, grocery and beer stores, finding paddling partners, etc. It will include hundreds of color photos, and will be around 400 pages.

Coming March of 2010.

The River Gypsies

Leland
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Old 06-01-2009   #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
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It's definitely possible but I probably wouldn't recommend it. I stay away once it gets over 3500+-. That river is a whole different monster at 4000 versus 2000.

Double Drop which you do not have to run (but can) is above the powerhouse and is currently running 2480. It looks pretty inocent from the road but at that flow the second drop has a tricky hole that likes to flip boats FAST. If you're oar powered I'd suggest putting a couple of paddlers up front to give you a better chance of punching through. If you swim it will hurt and if you flip the raft you will most certainly break gear. I have seen more carnage in Double Drop than all of the other rapids combined.

Below the powerhouse the river is running at 4110 and thats a big, pushy flow. Whitehorse rapid is straightforward and actually gets kind of flat at flows that high. Pretty much just put it in the middle and keep it straight. There is some meat on river left that isn't runnable at lower flows though. Scout trail is river left.

Kitchen Sink will get your attention. Stay off the big pillow on river right as the river bends to the left at the top of the rapid. Everyone flips there eventually but the swim really isn't too bad if you follow the raft line and keep your feet up. Scout river right.

Greenwave is a piece of cake. The top of it has multiple entrances. Far river right is probably the easiest but at the current flow you could punch right through the two big rocks in the middle. At the bottom the safe line is on river right. If you're feeling cheeky just punch right over the top of the green wave (can't miss it). The hole below the wave can pull you back into it and flip your boat so that's another good place to have a couple of paddlers for extra speed. Big recovery pool so no worries about swimming here. Scouting is a bitch and I've never done it. If you are so inclined you can scramble down the rocks on river right for a scout. Once you're through Greenwave you've got about 4-5 miles of flat water so bring lots of beer.

Keep in mind that if you get hurt noone is coming to rescue you. You'll have to make it to the takeout on your own power. Both banks are lined solid with poison ivy and the rattlers are out (and in very high population) so look where you step when you're scouting. Be safe and have fun.
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Old 06-01-2009   #7
 
Durango, Colorado
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Beartrap gets big and fun over 4000. As the former river ranger on the Madison including Beartrap Canyon, I've run it many times at all water levels up to about 4500 and hiked in to look at the sink at about 5500 (very difficult looking). Double Drop and Kitchen Sink are the two biggest concerns. The rapids, remoteness, and scenery are all pretty different than the Lochsa. Looks like they're keeping the flow at about 4100 now. Big, fun, and not too scary yet. Enjoy.
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Old 06-01-2009   #8
 
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Just got off both runs. The Lochsa is easier - especially the lower, and has fewer consequences. We ran Double Drop blind. Our two sotar cats and our kayaker did fine. My 14' raft with no gear and one passenger flipped quickly. Had I known about that hole or scouted it I might have been able to skirt it and would have certainly pulled instead of pushing into it - but honestly it didn't look bad - until we flipped We didn't damage any gear, but had a nice long swim.

Kitchen Sink is V- or V in my opinion at this level. We had 5.5ish on the gauge on river left below the damn - looks like 4100 cfs on the USGS gauge. It's a powerful and fast rapid. I made the line but only by the smallest of margins. I missed a single stroke after breaking the top wave, otherwise I did what I wanted and barely missed two large, powerful, violent holes. One cat made the line look easy. The other cat flipped in the bottom hole but thankfully the rower landed clear of the hole - after flipping in mid-air - there is that kind of power and speed going on here. He put one tube in the hole, the other was in the current - he pirouetted and flipped in the vertical position. Our kayaker, a solid class V boater, missed the top move and plugged the top hole. He stayed composed and re-surfaced upright and paddling - a swim in the top hole would be ugly and there was wood on river right. He nailed the rest of the line. Go with a solid crew, be ready to swim, and drink a bootie at the end of the day.
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Old 06-02-2009   #9
 
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Originally Posted by raftus View Post
Just got off both runs. The Lochsa is easier - especially the lower, and has fewer consequences. We ran Double Drop blind. Our two sotar cats and our kayaker did fine. My 14' raft with no gear and one passenger flipped quickly. Had I known about that hole or scouted it I might have been able to skirt it and would have certainly pulled instead of pushing into it - but honestly it didn't look bad - until we flipped We didn't damage any gear, but had a nice long swim.

Kitchen Sink is V- or V in my opinion at this level. We had 5.5ish on the gauge on river left below the damn - looks like 4100 cfs on the USGS gauge. It's a powerful and fast rapid. I made the line but only by the smallest of margins. I missed a single stroke after breaking the top wave, otherwise I did what I wanted and barely missed two large, powerful, violent holes. One cat made the line look easy. The other cat flipped in the bottom hole but thankfully the rower landed clear of the hole - after flipping in mid-air - there is that kind of power and speed going on here. He put one tube in the hole, the other was in the current - he pirouetted and flipped in the vertical position. Our kayaker, a solid class V boater, missed the top move and plugged the top hole. He stayed composed and re-surfaced upright and paddling - a swim in the top hole would be ugly and there was wood on river right. He nailed the rest of the line. Go with a solid crew, be ready to swim, and drink a bootie at the end of the day.
Wow that sounds pretty fun, yet you want to be on your game. The Lochsa definitely does have a reduced "penalty factor" if you flip/swim (at least the lower section) at these recent higher flows, when the rocks are covered and most holes washed out.

I have to get down to the Beartrap someday, so close, so far.

Perdido- does it run well through the summer, being dam controlled? Like July/early Aug? I'm sure it doesn't saty at these high flows, but does it stay at fun/boatable levels?
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Old 06-02-2009   #10
 
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The trap will stay floatable year round as minimum flows have to stay above 1000 but the fun quotient goes way down once the river drops below 1800-2000. 2000 is a nice, fun, wet, medium risk flow and this year we should see the river stay at or above until mid July or even a little later I'd guess. As soon as runoff above the dam is over they will shut the dam down to about 200-250 and Double Drop will become unrunnable in anything except a kayak or ducky. The powerhouse should have 1200-1500 running through it all summer long this year.

Sometimes in mid-late August when the weather gets hottest we get another high water event. If the water temps get above 70* and the forecasted air temp is above 90* for the following day they will open the dam and pulse the river daily in an attempt to cool the water for the benefit of the fish (it works). When pulse flows are happening they will usually run the river at 3000-3500 from 6AM until noon and Double Drop will again be runnable. At noon they will cut it to minimum flows. At high flows six hours is more than enough time to get through all of the rapids. I've even lapped it during pulses. If you don't scout and keep moving you can make the entire 9 mile run in a raft in about 2.5 hours at high flows.
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