Box Elder, 160 CFS
Left my accounting class early to go buy some carabineers from Climb Axe since I was down a pin kit from last year. A little nervous for my first creek of the season especially since the eddyflower description of Box Elder doesn’t make it sound like a walk in the park. Went home and took my time organizing my gear for the trip. Went down the mental check list of things I would need on the trip.
  • · Boat, Dagger Nomad 8.5
  • · Dry Suit, Kokatat GMER
  • · PFD, Astral Green Jacket
  • · Paddle, Werner Carbon Fiber Power House
  • · Pogies, Wild Wasser Greenlander
  • · Elbow Pads, NRS
  • · Skirt, Langer
  • · Back up hand paddles, RiverHolic Pro-kayak
  • · Rope
  • · Fleece
  • · Shoes
  • · Game Face
  • · Dry box with Sanyo Xacti camera, memory card, lighter
  • · Sleeping Bag

Loaded the boat on my make shift rack, A Paco Pad and three straps.

TEAM FORD

I headed up to Laramie WY to meet David Schmitt, who got me on this trip. We had a “few” beers and made our way to his apartment to crash. We woke up ate some grub and met up with Jason Baker. We loaded gear and squeezed into David’s truck. By squeeze I mean I was in the middle of the one bench seat shifting while David drove, not a lot of breathing room. A little over 2 hours later we were at the take out.

Mike Perry, Glenn Watt, and Spencer Mauk were there waiting for us. We scouted the portage of the middle gorge since we intended to get down the whole canyon. After some talking with one of the ranchers, shuttle was set. We left Spencer’s car at the middle in case we were pushed for time and had to hike out at the end of the upper. We geared up, jumped the barbed wire fence and started our float.

The run starts out as an 80 feet per mile slow dance, then moves to a 120 feet per mile boogie, and before you know it the canyon is boxed in and you’re doin’ the class V break dance. The beginning rapids are some fun class III-IV slides, but before you know it we’re eddying out at Triple Scoop. Everyone gets out to scout it, and Mike, Jason, and myself decide to fire it up. We hike up snap our skirts on and peel out. Unknown to me Mike was following 6 feet behind which made some awesome head cam footage. Everyone is greasing their lines, until we’re all waiting for Glenn to come down. 5 minutes go by and we’re all wondering what happened to him up stream. I run up to check on him and he’s stand on the shore boat vertical, draining water tapping his head to let me know he was ok. Glenn had gotten caught up in the mank above the drop pinned flipped and was pinned underwater. He swam and didn’t get hurt so everything was good. He snapped on his spray skirt and rocked the drops.

DSchmitt on the first drop of Triple drop

Photo: Glenn Watt

The next drops were Class IV+ called The Chronic. This section has a lot of low consequence drops, but it’s a little more continuous than the other sections of the run. With high spirits we pull into the eddy above Wild Turkey. I can’t say enough good things about this rapid. It starts off with a 4 or 5 foot boof to a slide with a sharp right hand turn into the main part of the drop. The main part of the drop is comparable to a ski jump, really fast entry and then it levels off launching you into the pool below. This is probably one of my favorite rapids I’ve run since boating.

Spencer and a Bird at Wild Turkey

Photo: Glenn Watt

Everyone runs the drop cleanly and we move on down river towards gut buster. Mike directs us into an eddy, and we all go take a look at gut buster. It takes all of about 1 second to realize that this drop is unrunnable at this flow unless you like getting shoved into a sieve or pinning vertically. We portage and pull up to electric slide. In hind sight the river left line goes at this flow, but the river right line looked a little more forgiving so Mike, David, Jason and I decide to get after it. Glenn and Spencer are portaging while Mike is lining up to drop in. I’m not sure who but someone dropped their paddle on the portage and Mike fires it up just in time to rescue the paddle. David hits it and greases; Jason holds my boat while I seal launch into the drop. Jason is last up and ends up in a “high brace” with his head underwater, but he saves it yelling, “That wasn’t a roll!”

Me on Electric Slide

Photo: Glenn Watt

LOAF! This drop is insane. 5 foot boof to slide to 7 foot boof to 20 foot falls with rocks in the landing. Mike gets in his boat and we all watch. He hits the first boofs and then plugs deep and gets an early season introduction to Chunder Town. He finally swims after a good fight and gets recirculate 3 times before Jason can rope him out from the 35 foot cliff above. All is good and we rope the boats down the cliff to get around Loaf while Mike catches his breath. Dung Ball is up next.

Dung Ball involves a little bit of a tricky entrance since the whole river left is one big sieve; the portage is through a cave. The drop itself is probably 10+ feet with a sieve to land in on the left or a clear channel on the right. Mike, David, and I make it right but Jason isn’t so lucky. Mike ropes him out of the sieve still in his boat and everything is fine. At this point it's getting late and we need to call it a day so we decided to hike out at the mid point.

David and Mike at Dung Ball

Photo: Glenn Watt

This is exciting, no one died and only one dry bag with a tripod and food in it is lost. Too bad we have this hike out. I didn’t realize how bad this hike out was going to be until I was sitting at the river and David points out the hike out. It’s a steep ravine up an 800+ foot canyon. The take out car is parked higher than the put in, elevation wise. This hike was the most hard core hike I’ve ever done with a boat. If you took a bad step, which happens, rocks will go tumbling. The only thing you can do when this happens is to yell “ROCK!” and pray to God you didn’t hurt or possibly kill one of your buddies below you. We all made it to the top after only a few mishaps such as Spencer dropping his boat. Spencer, Mike, and David got the cars and we all dreamed about some food and a warm place to sleep.

I want to thank Mike and David for making my first time in Wyoming pretty unforgettable. Enjoy the video by Mike Perry.




Box Elder Creek from Mike Perry on Vimeo.

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