“A large volume of adventures may be grasped within this little span of life, by him who interests his heart in everything”
Exploring is an addiction of mine, and no matter how many well traveled paths I follow, it seems there is always a rough side trail leading me another direction. Sometimes these trails lead to great creeks and waterfalls or simply lead to nothing but hiking with a loaded boat. Fortunately, they are all rewarding in there own way and seem to keep me looking for the next unexplored creek.
A friend of mine Joe Josephson (aka JoJo) who spends a lot of time running around the Beartooths told me to check out Broadwater Creek, high in the upper Clarks Fork drainage. His words were, “I’m not sure if its runnable, but it’s got a lot of water”. Its hard to just grab the gear and go on everyones tips, but this one felt good. After checking it out on Google Satellite it looked promising.
Google map looks like slides and steepness!
I figured it was only an hour and half drive, and the hike in would be about 2 miles. There looked to be a trail leading into the upper lake that followed the creek and would hopefully allow us some short windows to view the creek.
Tom Sunderland, Randy Binder, and Matt joined the team. We took off around three in afternoon which was wasn’t our smartest decision, but we thought we could hammer out the hike and run pretty quickly.
After a few creek crossings and some 4 wheeling we found the takeout and started hiking. From the quick view of the lower creek the water looked low but doable, and looked like it might have some hope of being a good run.
Once we hit the lake we started realize that wood was an issue. There wasn’t a standing live tree to be seen and a fire which I believe was part of the 80’s Yellowstone fire scorned the area and numerous trees lined the banks like dominos. The area was solid granite with domes escaping out of the meadows and rising to the sky. Our hopes were high that the upper reaches would reward us with granite slides and waterfalls. As we got closer the upper gorge had neither and was very typical of other stretches of the Clarks Fork, carved granite gorges with boulder drops, wood and big boofs.
Our dreams of slides and falls diminished quickly while the remoteness and beauty of the area quickly consumed us. Soon the wood would also consume our boating efforts and we all got our fair share of sketchy faries above log jams and trying to negotiate the limbo under numerous logs. A few of us got to wrestle with some logs and do some underwater belly dancing which is always good to practice.
The first gorge ended up running really well and then we hit the first meadow which felt more like a lake and then we were able to paddle the first half and then the portaging started. Like a fly crawling across a web we negotiated our way thru heavy downed timber, chest high jungle bush and granite boulders. For almost an hour we moved down stream eventually reaching a maze of timber as the creek bled into small veins below the steeps of the second gorge and into the second meadow.
Check out the horizon line, there was no fact the creek was steep and gorgeous
Finally back in our boats and very thankful to be back in water we moved across another gorgeous lake/meadow and dropped into the third steep section which provided fun read and run class 4 with the occasional log limbo to keep it spicy.
Not a classic run, not a run I will ever do again, but a run that took me on an adventure to explore an area I otherwise would not have seen. The views were gorgeous and worth just hiking into to see alone. I don’t regret hiking in and boating at all it was fun and its always fun to get off the local runs and see something new.
Its like hunting, some people hunt there entire lives without that big trophy. I can say I have hunted for new creeks and new ice climbs for almost 10 years and have been very successful and fortunate in my hunts. The hunt is what keeps me going!