Tom in the packraft

The South Fork of the Flat­head Riv­er is home to the wildest cut­throat trout fish­ing in the Amer­i­can West. The riv­er flows 40 miles through the Bob Mar­shall Wilder­ness — Mon­tana’s largest — and has some of the clean­est, clear­est water you will ever see. The only way to access it is by mule or by foot, and trails to the con­flu­ence are at least 20 miles. Due to its remote­ness, it receives light fish­ing pres­sure and the result makes for some of the most-will­ing trout in the world. Here are the result­ing pho­tos from a five day pack­raft­ing trip in pur­suit of those wild fish. Enjoy!


Greg and Tom hiking 20 miles over Young's Pass


Shot 1: Greg and Tom hik­ing 20 miles through burnt for­est in the Bob Mar­shall Wilderness.

 

Tom floating opposed to mountain on Young's Creek


Shot 2: Float­ing opposed to moun­tains on Young’s Creek toward the S. Fork of the Flat­head confluence.

 Tom fishing in the distant mountains


Shot 3: Fly fish­ing in the dis­tant stormy mountains.

 

Tim grabbing a cutthroat


Shot 4: The wildest cut­throat trout in the world in hand. 

 

Tom in the packraft


Shot 5: Pad­dling a pack­raft 40 miles down the emer­ald waters of the S. Fork of the Flat­head River.

 

Greg and Tom peeling into green current


Shot 6: Approach­ing the take­out at Mead­ow Creek Gorge’s Class IV water.

 

Packbridge over our last camp


Shot 7: Pack­bridge to the final camp with a wisp of campsmoke in the trees. 

The fish­ing lived up to the pre-trip hype. We hooked up on the sec­ond cast and it nev­er quit. The riv­er, too, sur­passed expec­ta­tions and lent itself to a tru­ly wild trip. The long hike, light­ning storms, log­jams, low water, nar­row gorges, and excel­lent fish­ing all led to long days end­ing in exhaust­ed din­ners around the camp­fire. The Bob Mar­shall Wilder­ness is big coun­try. It’s remote, wild, and aus­tere­ly beau­ti­ful. You have to real­ly want it to get back there, but once you do, for all these rea­sons, you’ll find your­self fly fish­ing in heaven. 

By Tim Gib­bins

 

Ranch­ers have been liv­ing and work­ing along the Rocky Moun­tain Front in Mon­tana for well over a cen­tu­ry. It’s a rugged land­scape where the North­ern Plains meet the Rock­ies. Griz­zly bears still wan­der out onto the prairie. Wolves still howl along the ridges at night. Ranch­ers and small towns still stake their claims in this wild landscape. 

Com­mon Ground, the beau­ti­ful short doc­u­men­tary from the tal­ent­ed film­mak­er Alexan­dria Bom­bach takes a close look at the per­son­al­i­ties grab­bling with mod­ern issues in this stun­ning land­scape. Through inter­views with ranch­ers and out­fit­ters, Bom­bach pro­vides a uni­fied voice for the rur­al peo­ple who live along the Rocky Moun­tain Front and how they feel about the 400,000 acres of pub­lic land that is unpro­tect­ed and faces the threat of development. 

Local ranch­ers, sports­men, and con­ser­va­tion lead­ers have teamed up with state politi­cians to pro­tect the wide-open spaces, mas­sive moun­tains, and abun­dant wildlife along with the her­itage of the work­ing com­mu­ni­ties that live with­in this land­scape. The leg­is­la­tion is known as the Rocky Moun­tain Front Her­itage Act, and it’s in Con­gress now. 

Com­mon Ground is one of this year’s select­ed films at the Moun­tain Film Fes­ti­val & Tour, is sure to win the minds and hearts of peo­ple who advo­cate for wilder­ness preservation. 

By: Tim Gib­bins

 

Snowboarders in Yellowstone

This past March sev­er­al friends from Boze­man, Mon­tana trav­eled out to Cooke City, Mon­tana to explore the back­coun­try ter­rain. For any­one with a thirst for nip­ple-deep pow­der, it’s the place to be.

Six­ty miles from the near­est town, Cooke City is on the bor­der of Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park, and from the looks of it, it offers the back­coun­try expe­ri­ence of your dreams.

Check out this video of Todd Kir­by, Mark Rain­ery, Ian Dodds, Nathaniel Mur­phy, and Shane Stalling shred­ding the Mon­tana back­coun­try. Over the course of two trips, and four days, video­g­ra­ph­er Eli Wein­er cap­tured the rid­ers send­ing back­coun­try boot­ers, boun­cy pil­lows, and gnarly lines.

It does­n’t get any bet­ter than this.