Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 04-09-2015   #1
 
Denver, Colorado
Paddling Since: 2011
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Upper Middle Fork of the Flathead River

Im doing Gates of Lodore in late June and I have the over a week off after so looking into rafting trips in Wyoming and Montana for late June/early July and I came across this Upper Middle Flathead trip. I've already searched around for some info but I still have some questions about it that maybe some of you Buzz' guys can help me out with.

So you have to fly in to Schafer Meadows in a little bush plane to start the trip, I found some aviation companies that take groups into the area but my main question is how the hell do I get 4 passengers and my gear into a tiny plane? I have a 14' Rocky Mountain Raft with a double rail raft frame w/ decking and the biggest Yeti cooler that could fit, and 10' oars. The raft by its self is heavy and does not pack down that small, and while my frame can be broken down its still a lot of frame.

Is it possible to pack my set up into a little plane? Or am I better off renting/buying a collapsible frame or set up?

Also, some of the beta says this river is class IV, but this all seems to be very dependent on flow. The river seems to have a huge variance in flow from 1,000-15,000 cfs. Does anyone have more detail as to what level is to low and what level is too high? I'm very comfortable on class III+, I raft different rivers in CO almost weekly but don't know if this river is actually harder than stuff here.

If anyone has other advice on nice Multi-day river trips (either no permit or possible to get a permit trips) in Wyoming/Montana or even Idaho I would be interested. Thanks, Tres

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Old 04-09-2015   #2
 
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Boise, Idaho
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Why dont you look at the North Fork of the Flathead. Canadian boarder to pPole Bridge or on down to West Glacier. Class II , III water. No fly in required. Lots of big brown bears.

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Old 04-09-2015   #3
 
Boston Mountains, Arkansas
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We did that trip a couple years ago, awesome, awesome trip. For some perspective: we had 7 people, 2 super pumas with oar frames, and a 16' paddle raft. At least 4 trips in the plane to get all that stuff in. We had no food/drink that required coolers. It can be done in two days but we figured an extra day was worth it given how difficult it is to get there.

It was "normal" flow, I think. Only a couple of big, technical rapids as I recall. Just a beautiful river.

Go for it if you have the time and the group is willing to split the cost of flying in.
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Old 04-09-2015   #4
 
Helena, Montana
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My brother in law did it with two or three other people last year. I think they just rented pack rafts, so that might be a good option if you can get by with less gear and food than you're accustomed to. If you're a fisherman at all, it'll be well worth the expense and trouble of getting in.
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Old 04-09-2015   #5
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It's one of the most beautiful runs I've ever been on. Only hiked in from granite so can't help with plane beta other than to say, people had big rigs on the river and red eagle says 1000lbs/5 passenger max. At 5500 it was barely a whitewater flow and barely CL IV through the harder gorges (2 or 3 from granite creek, rumors of 1 more upstream). 10,000 is probably a solid CL IV run. Keep in mind the gauge is 30 or so miles below takeout and at the 5500 flow we were floating on about 2K or less. The rafters we talked to were saying it was less than 1K at put-in. Even on my warm July 4th trip a drysuit was mandatory safety equipment because of the water temp. Expect bugs and bears.
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Old 04-09-2015   #6
 
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Boise, Idaho
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glenn View Post
It's one of the most beautiful runs I've ever been on. Only hiked in from granite so can't help with plane beta other than to say, people had big rigs on the river and red eagle says 1000lbs/5 passenger max. At 5500 it was barely a whitewater flow and barely CL IV through the harder gorges (2 or 3 from granite creek, rumors of 1 more upstream). 10,000 is probably a solid CL IV run. Keep in mind the gauge is 30 or so miles below takeout and at the 5500 flow we were floating on about 2K or less. The rafters we talked to were saying it was less than 1K at put-in. Even on my warm July 4th trip a drysuit was mandatory safety equipment because of the water temp. Expect bugs and bears.
This sounds like a "must do" for the river bucket list.

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Old 04-09-2015   #7
 
Helena, Montana
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Originally Posted by Whetstone View Post
This sounds like a "must do" for the river bucket list.

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The water color alone is enough to make you drool...

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Old 04-09-2015   #8
 
Durango, Colorado
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Red Eagle flew myself and my partner, plus our two kayaks and gear into the meadow for 425. Even at low flows it was a great trip. The scenery is hard to beat. Bring a fishing pole and take your time time. Excellent trip.
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Old 04-09-2015   #9
 
Boston Mountains, Arkansas
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Didn't get too many great shots but here's one.
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Old 04-09-2015   #10
 
pocatello, Idaho
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Another river to add to the list. Dang. I better get started crossing more rivers off.
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